There are many different ways to keep your backyard office warm and cozy during winter. Winter can be a difficult time for you and your backyard office if you are not prepared enough. Not only will you be cold and miserable if unprepared for winter, but you will also be less productive in your backyard office.
The key things to consider when keeping your backyard office warm is proper insulation, windows and doors, flooring, interior materials, curtains, and electrical equipment such as heaters and air conditioners. I will expand more on these items throughout this article.
Steps can either be taken during the construction of your backyard office or if you already have an existing backyard office. Obviously, it’s better to plan ahead and prepare your backyard office for all four seasons. However, do not despair if you’ve already had your backyard office built and now find it unbearably cold during the winter. Read on to find out how exactly to prepare your backyard office for cold winters – both during and post-construction.
DOORS AND WINDOWS
Doors and windows can be taken into account during construction or even after your backyard office has been constructed. It will obviously cost more to remedy your doors and windows in an existing backyard office as in most cases it means replacing your existing doors and windows with new ones.
DOORS – WHAT TO LOOK FOR
- A solid door – this is mainly for your front door or any door that leads from your backyard office to the outside. Wood is generally the best material used for solid doors.
- Door sweeps and weatherstripping – these are inexpensive applications for the bottom of a door. The purpose of weatherstripping is to block any cold drafts from entering through the gap between the bottom of a door and the floor.
- Door snakes – these are even less expensive than weatherstripping. However, door snakes are a more temporary solution. It’s essentially a weighted tube of fabric usually filled with sand and it needs to sit flush against a closed door for it to work. I prefer the weatherstripping solution, as these can be annoying at times when opening and closing a door.
WINDOWS – WHAT TO LOOK FOR
- Double glazed windows – the best form of insulation for windows. A double glazed window is a sandwich of two panes of glass with an air gap between them. The gap of air acts as a powerful insulator. These are also quite pricey, usually more than double the cost of a standard window.
- Window film – this acts as a DIY double glazed window at a fraction of the cost. You can get window film kits at most hardware stores and they’re also available online. The application is easy, all you have to do is apply double-sided/two-way tape (usually included with the window film) to the inside of your window frame, stick the film to the tape and use a hair dryer to dry and set the film. Another great tip is to use bubble wrap first and then apply the film over the bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is not the prettiest solution but it does make a huge difference. This cheap solution is available at Amazon.
- Thick curtains is another way to keep your backyard office warm and cozy during winter.
Proper insulation is an important factor not only in keeping your backyard office warm during winter, but also keeping it cool during the summers. Insulation is best applied DURING the construction of your backyard office, as it’s usually applied between the studs in walls.
Fiberglass wool is probably the most common type of wall insulation. I say this because I (and many other architects) specify this type of insulation for almost all the projects we do. Other alternatives are:
- Foiled back insulation.
- Bubble wrap – very cheap but very risky, especially if there are electrical appliances around.
- Insulation boards.
Insulation boards could be a great solution if you already have an existing backyard office and you do not wish to tear into walls to install fiberglass wool insulation. These insulation boards can be applied to your existing interior walls. You can either paint over them or leave them as is – most of them have neat finishes and will look pleasing without a paint job.
A floor can get EXTREMELY cold during winter. At times I can feel the coldness right through a thick pair of work boots. And you’ve probably guessed it already, that the type of floors I’m speaking about is hard floors. This is usually a tiled or hardwood floor.
Ideally, you want to have insulation installed between floor joists. However, if your backyard office is already built then this would be a problem.
I’m not going to suggest heated flooring or anything drastic – although, how awesome would that be?! And I’m not going to suggest you fully carpet your backyard office floor, unless you already have, in which case you don’t have much to worry about as far as your floors are concerned.
The simplest solution would be to throw a thick rug on your floor. This won’t totally eliminate coldness from your floor, but it’s definitely better than nothing. And, when summer comes you can simply roll it up until the next winter. Plus, a nice looking rug often adds a touch of class and sophistication.
Do not underestimate the power of layers. Remember we spoke earlier about double glazed windows? Well, layered clothing kind of acts in the same way. The extra layers of clothing will add to the warmth, but the air between those layers acts as insulation and will keep you warm and toasty right throughout the day.
The best clothing materials that will keep you warm in winter are:
All materials around you will play an important role in how warm you feel. Below I will go over a few simple suggestions that you can use to make your backyard office feel much more warmer and cozier during the winter.
Wood is the best furnishing material for warmth. Since most backyard offices will be constructed with wood, it would make sense to have wooden window and door frames as well. These might not make that much of a difference to the temperature around you, but the aesthetic look alone will just psychologically make you feel warmer.
Try to avoid silver and steel in your furniture e.g. desks, shelves, chairs etc. Some of you may want a more industrial feel to your office, but just remember that steel can make an office seem cold. Wood, on the other hand, will make your office seem warmer during winter and it goes well in the summer too. Wood is also an excellent choice for floors.
When it comes to keeping warm, I don’t blame you for instantly thinking of a fireplace. Let’s face it, nothing beats a cozy fireplace on a cold winter’s day. However, they do tend to make you feel lazy and can be counterproductive in a workplace. The problem is when I think fireplace, I think relax. Personally, I wouldn’t have a fireplace in my own office.
If by chance you do have a fireplace that you’re not using, be sure that you cover the front opening to block any drafts and cold air coming down from the chimney.
If your backyard office has windows, you should open the drapes every time there’s sunshine outside. As soon as the sunshine disappears, close the drapes to seal in all the heat. When you’re done for the day, make sure to close the drapes so that the heat remains sealed overnight. Do not underestimate the amount of heat this trick will provide for your office during the winter.
As an architect, I almost always orientate houses and other buildings so that the windows face north. The northern side receives the most sun and those windows should ideally have a shading device like a roof overhang or a simple awning. Shading devices will guard the windows from the harsh summer sun. During winter, the sun’s angle is much lower and the shading devices will allow the sunshine to come through.
Skylights are also another alternative but they are costly. I personally would not recommend a skylight for a backyard office. Besides the costs involved, I do not think skylights are necessary because a few windows will let through more than enough sunshine to heat up a small office space.
Surrounding yourself with an aesthetically warm environment will trick your brain into feeling warmer. I’m not a psychology expert, but tricking your brain is something that many of us do on a daily basis and most of the time it’s on a subconscious level. Just a few simple aesthetic changes in your office can really provide a warm and cozy environment for you to have a productive day.
Color can make a big difference to the “feel” of your office. Try to incorporate warm colors into your office and if you do not wish to paint the interior then you can incorporate these colors in other items such as throw pillows, chairs or curtains. Examples of “warm” colors are:
The above colors bring the sunshine inside even if it’s overcast and raining or snowing outside. Browns, chocolate, and earthy colors also radiate feelings of warmth.
Rough and chunky textures tend to exude warmth too. I’m often requested to choose these types of textures for my clients who want a cozy, snug space. Cut pile rugs and rustic furniture are the most common recommendations from clients and I must admit that I often recommend it to clients who want cozy spaces but have no real idea on what to go for. I love the look of these textures and they do add a touch of class as well.
You could also fill your office with wooden items. No need to overdo it though, a few simple items will do the trick. Desk organizers, sculptures, and lamps are a few examples.
I left electrical appliances for last because they often require that you spend a bit of money. Also, if none of the above steps apply to you, or it’s already in place but you just want an extra layer of warmth in your backyard office, then read on for the best recommended electric heating solutions – that don’t break the bank either.
- Space Heaters – One of the best and easiest ways to heat up a small space. There are different types, shapes, and sizes available. For a backyard office, however, a small portable space heater will work perfectly. Look for something with low thermal conductivity, the last thing you want is for you, your clients, or a pet to burn when touching the heater.
- Electric Blanket – I know that this is usually associated with bedrooms but I find an electric blanket can add so much warmth and coziness to your backyard office too. There are various ways that you can use your electric blanket. You could place it over your chair before sitting down, this will give you heated seating. You could lay it over your desk and this will give you a more subtle warmth. Or, you could simply wrap it around your body, old school style! – When there are no clients around, of course.
- Heated Seat Cushion – If you’re not a fan of electric blankets, then you’d want to consider heated seat cushions. These are great because they not only heat up your chair but they also provide back support. This is a perfect solution for someone like me who suffers from lower back pain as well.
- Heated Slippers & Gloves – Yes, heated clothing apparel exists. I myself was taken by surprise when I came across things like heated slippers and gloves. I would not usually recommend this, but this is a blog about backyard offices and that comes with certain perks!
I did some research on Amazon and found the best products available. Products that check all the boxes and have great customer reviews! You can check these out below:
- Lasko Ceramic Space Heater – the most popular one on Amazon. Perfect for tabletop or under the desk. My personal favorite is the Dr Infrared Portable Heater – It’s much more expensive than a regular space heater, but man I just love the simple and retro look and feel of this baby.
- Luxury Fleece Electric Blanket – According to customer reviews on Amazon, this blanket is lightweight, heats evenly (without hot spots), and is soft to the touch.
- Heated Back Support – Amazon customers say that this heated back support keeps them toasty for a full working day and forces them into a good posture.
- For heated slippers, you can either go for a microwaveable pair or an electric pair. Both of these have great reviews on Amazon. Do not forget to check out the fingerless USB heated gloves. There are full gloves available as well but I would not recommend them unless you’re planning to climb Mount Everest. The fingerless gloves are way better for the office, especially when typing or writing, or anything else really.
As you can see, a few simple changes can make the world of difference in keeping your backyard office warm during winter. As mentioned in the article, it’s better to have planned beforehand how your office will cope in winter. But, I hope I provided enough examples to also make your existing backyard office warmer during the icy cold winters.
I hope you have a warm and productive office this winter!