Posted on: March 22, 2022 Updated on: March 31, 2022

When we got together with Lou Davies from Box 9 Design to launch Bert’s Boxes a little over six years ago, we hoped we’d created something that would become a style-led solution for people who needed extra space for whatever reason. What we could never have anticipated was how many of us were going to have to start using – and viewing – our homes totally differently just a few years later.

Once the pandemic hit, bringing with it a new at-home working culture for a huge number of people all over the country, adding extra room to the home ceased to be just a nice idea – in many cases, it became a necessity. We saw an increase in demand for our prefabricated standalone spaces, and we adapted the range to mirror the shift, with the launch of our Study Box – a smaller version of our original boxes, designed with a home office set-up in mind – in 2020.

Both these, and the larger, classic Bert’s Boxes, are environmentally friendly and technologically advanced ways to add much-needed extra space to the home and have proved invaluable to the families who have installed them. But aside from their practical qualities, what we think makes them really special is that each one is a design piece in its own right. After all – if you have a lovely property, why would you put something ugly in your garden?  

Whether you need a standalone living area or guestroom, have decided the time is right to build the ultimate home office, or you’d like a place to get creative, such as a workshop or studio, these customisable, architect-designed spaces could be the answer. We asked two recent clients about how their Bert’s Boxes have changed the way they use their homes...

Anna Ferguson

Why did you choose to install a Bert’s Box in your garden?

When we bought our house in 2015, it had a wooden hut at the bottom, which had bags of charm but had sadly rotted over the years. We’d pulled it down in summer 2019 and started discussing a garden office after the amount of at-home working that year brought! We saw Bert’s Boxes in a newspaper article and loved the fact they had reclaimed wood and felt like a much more luxurious and practical version of our old cabin. We went to see the one at The Pig in the South Downs and decided that we’d go for it.

What kind of Bert’s Box do you have?

We have reclaimed timber on the outside and inside walls, and black and white Bert & May tiles. The style of the windows matches the Crittall-style windows at the back of our house so ties it all together nicely.

How did you find the process from start to finish?

As we don’t have access to the garden except via the house, we weren’t able to have the box craned in, so it had to be built on site. On top of that, the earth in our garden is very soft and clay-like, which meant that the usual ground-screws were unable to work. This was quite complicated as it meant we had to pour a lot of concrete into the foundations to support the box, whilst also protecting the surrounding tree roots.

Lou [from Box 9], an engineer, and our landscape gardener all worked together to find a solution. It was unfortunately more costly in terms of the ground preparation and landscaping time involved, but ours was quite an unusual case. Once we resolved the issue of the foundations, watching them build it in the garden over ten days was really satisfying.

What does the space provide for you and your family?

We use it mainly as a home office but have set it up with a large comfy sofa and drinks fridge full of beer and wine. Both me and my partner use it for work (we have to take turns as we both want to be in it!) and occasionally our greyhound joins us as he likes lying on the heated floor! If homeworking diminishes and as our little boy grows up, we can imagine it becoming a really cool hang out space for a teenager.

What does a Bert's Box provide over similar products?

It felt incredibly unique to us, and we liked that we could make it our own with the choices. Everyone who’s been in it comments on how lovely it is.

Nicola Oaten

What kind of Bert’s Box do you have?

We have a two-bedroom Bert’s Box with one bathroom and an open-plan living area. The kitchen has a soft concrete worktop, which manages to seamlessly stop the run of cabinets looking like a kitchen. Huge windows run all the way along this section affording stunning views to the forest. The timber floors run through both bedrooms and Bert & May classic tiles adorn the bathroom and main living space. A log burner ensures it’s cosy when needed with overall warmth from reclaimed timber - central to the Bert & May aesthetic. It’s luxurious-rustic.

Why did you choose to install a Bert’s Box?

Flexibility and aesthetics. When delivered in a seamless manner they make adding accommodation to most properties a cinch. The hardest obstacle is the crane access.

How did you find the design process from start to finish?

Choosing the finishes is easy with Bert & May, which made it a fun process. As an interior designer I wanted to take out the hassle and choice! I loved it immediately and it looks extra good in a beautifully designed garden (which mine is thanks to my friend Marcus Barnett).

How do you use the space?

One of the bedrooms – the largest one at the end – is actually used an office/workspace – handy during the last 18 months! Sometimes you need your own space...

Another great thing about ‘the Box’, as we call it, is its versatility for so many design styles. Furniture and styling wise I can have hours of fun changing it up. I have a serious furniture collecting habit so I’m always trying different things out!

What does a Bert's Box provide over similar products?

Quality of finish, and cool, classic, and timeless design that fits into so many places. Town, country, beach – even a ski resort! It doesn’t look anything like most products on the market!

Nicola Oaten is the founder of Bear René design. Find out more at bearrene.com


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