The Gorgeous Garden Cabin that Doesn’t Require Planning Permission

Who doesn’t fantasise about building a space, separate to your home, where you can write that novel, attend to your hobby of choice or plonk guests when you have them to stay? Budgeting aside, the tricksy business of getting planning permission means that this concept largely remains the stuff of dreams. But creative design studio Bert & May, which started out as a business selling beautiful handmade tiles but has swiftly evolved into much more than that with its ‘spaces’ division, has come up with the delightful, eco-minded, Bert’s Box to change all of that. Technically classified as a mobile home, this pre-fab beauty, which was launched during the London Design Festival and comes in four different sizes, does not require planning permission according to planning laws and can be erected in just 14 weeks.

Bert's Box | Bert and May | The Chromologist

The box idea – which we’ll step inside in just a moment – evolved quite naturally from Bert & May’s first foray into spaces, Bert’s Barge. The barge came about because the company’s Creative Director Lee Thornhill was splitting his time between London, for work, and Yorkshire, where his home is, and had to live in a hotel each time he was in the capital. “I couldn’t afford and justify the rental cost for the amount of time I spent in the city,” says Lee. “Our Vyner Street warehouse backs onto Regents Canal and we had an empty mooring and it just hit me that this was a great way of using a space to create another form of housing. I love simplistic design so that informed the style as well as being able to use Bert & May materials like the wood cladding and the tiles.” Stylist Laura Fulmine worked on the interior of the barge, putting beautiful high-spec materials and products from the likes of Darkroom, Larusi and Agape, alongside core materials from Bert & May. It’s now available to rent as a unique hotel.

Bert's Barge The Chromologist

Much like the barge, Bert’s Boxes are built with high quality raw materials in mind and were designed “to provide an easy way of gaining space without the red tape of planning permission and the hassle of organizing trades people,” says Lee. “The boxes take 14 weeks to construct and can be assembled on pop-up foundations within a day. This means that essentially you can have a new home or an extension in under four months.”

Berts Box launches at Decorex from Bert & May 3


Berts Box launches at Decorex from Bert & May


As you can see the interiors are sort of high-class rustic cabins and as a mark of their desirability, there’s already a Bert’s Big Box newly erected at The Pig hotel in Hampshire. “We’ve also have had other orders from a family in the North of England looking to increase their property size, as their family grows,” says Lee.

The only potential problem we can evisage with having one is working out the best way of suggesting to your guests that they’ll be sleeping in your room while you retire to the outhouse. Anyone know the etiquette surrounding this?

Visit here to get the full scope of Bert & May’s projects, including new kitchens, here.


Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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