Do you feel like your garden is a whole lot of wasted potential? You have all of this outdoor space and yet feel like a sardine in your home. Well John Sherry from Garden Rooms (gardenrooms.ie) met countless people with this problem too and decided to offer the perfect solution! John was the first in Ireland to introduce the outdoor living concept that Garden Rooms are known for. A chicly designed space that can be used as home offices, music studios, home gyms and even art studios and come in different shapes and sizes. All of the Garden Rooms are built to last a lifetime, that's what makes them a perfect solution to extending your home living space while also enhancing your outdoor one!
We had a chat with John Sherry about how he has perfected his craft and his journey from selling office desks to being the leader of an entirely new industry in Ireland! Read on to get to know John Sherry at Garden Rooms!
We are intrigued to know what inspired you to set up your business GardenRooms.ie back in 2003 - can you tell us a bit about your background and how the business has evolved over the past 20 years?
In the nineties, I was working in the office furniture industry, at a time when PCs were becoming popular in the home, and we were selling a lot of home desks. I wanted to see if I could service this sector more, so, in 2003, I imported four log cabin home offices from Estonia, and erected one at the back of my parents’ house. It became our first showroom and we had crowds of day-trippers every weekend! That’s when I knew we were on to something special. We were up and running and had our first sale within 6 weeks.
Over the years, the company evolved, moving away from log cabins, towards the architecturally designed Garden Rooms we are known for today. One of our most significant moments was the introduction of the CUBE range back in 2014, establishing our brand in the luxury end of the market. It opened the door to a whole new market, and we haven't looked back since.
I think the growing demand for garden rooms over the years, is partly due to the trend for open plan living, popularised by Dermot Bannon 20 years ago. Finding a quiet spot in the home has become increasingly difficult. A garden room addresses this problem by offering a private, distraction-free space, away from the main house.
Another big change we’ve seen since starting the business, is the phenomenon of kids not leaving the family home until their late twenties. With degrees, masters and gap years, you can't have 3 adult children all crowding the house and a Garden Room becomes a much-needed sanctuary for family members to escape to!
But the biggest game changer for us, was COVID-19. Before the pandemic, working from home was the reserve of the self-employed and freelancers, now it’s the norm for many of us. After spending 20 years explaining what these buildings were for, it suddenly felt like we were an overnight success.
All this means our number of competitors has grown massively since 2020, with 24 new entrants to the market, which is wonderful. And as the market has grown, so has the quality and design, as well as the clients’ expectations. When we first started, I used to say that every 2nd or 3rd house in Ireland will have a Garden Room of some sort one day. I think over the next 20 years we will really start to see this happening. It has become as important as a utility room for the modern family and I would like to see our brand continue to hold its position as innovators and leaders in the luxury end of the industry.
There are clearly so many great purposes a garden room can serve, probably the number one use that springs to mind is working from home, and as you've mentioned especially since the Covid pandemic struck they have become almost synonymous with home offices. However to get our readers imaginations flowing, what is the most unusual use you have come across for one of your garden rooms?
We’ve been asked this question a lot over the years, but the reality is most people are using them for home offices, home gyms, teen rooms, music rooms, art studios and hobby rooms. The strangest enquiry we ever had was to use a Garden Room to carry out alien autopsies in Leitrim! But this never materialised.
Wow! I bet that was an interesting day in the office getting that enquiry! The garden room photos on your website suggest you have a good appreciation for interior design. When did you first become interested in design?
I started to get into interior design 10 years ago when we designed our CUBE model and I have been hooked ever since. I love mid-century classic, and feel I have found my place in this period.
It certainly shows in the beautiful wood cladding, very 1970s Californian! Aside from all things Garden Rooms, what does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day would start with some meditation and then I go on a forest walk most mornings to waken my senses. When I’m fully rejuvenated, my work day begins. Each day is different as I could be working on research and development one day, then out with a potential customer the next. No two days are the same which is what makes the role so interesting.
And to help our readers get to know you a bit better...What's your favourite food? Your favourite place to go on a day off? And your favourite piece of furniture and why?
My favourite food: goat’s cheese salad.
My favourite place to go on a day off: I have a farm in Monaghan that I love getting up to. It’s where I get to unwind and use my hands for a change. Every season brings its own energy on the farm so you are never bored.
Favourite furniture: I love the Hans Wenger Fishbone chair in a natural oak colour. I always smile when I see this design. I love the simplicity and the curved arm detail.
A Mid Century classic! Can you please give us an insight into the behind the scenes when someone orders a garden room - from that initial meeting, through to the installation on site. And how long does it all take?
We start with inviting the customer out to our showroom. This allows them to experience the exceptional quality and finish of our Garden Rooms and to see which design is most suitable for them. After this, we arrange to meet with them at their home. We ensure a lot of time is spent discussing the layout of the room, its location and the functionality of the space. We discuss whether it will be seen in the garden as a statement piece, or hidden away amongst the foliage. And we consider how the sunlight will affect the room. Once we decide on all of this and agree on the best design for our customer, we provide a floor plan and detailed quotation. When the customer is on board, it takes 7-8 weeks before we start, and our projects are completed over a 3-week period.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I would have to say, the success of the company over the last 2 decades – building over 2000 garden rooms, celebrating 20 years in business and being able to say we are market leaders in every aspect of the industry – has all been the highlight of my career. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and it’s so exciting to be a part of innovation in this sector.
Any exciting plans for the future you can tell us about?
Our CUBE range is nearly 10 years old, so we are planning on bringing out a new CUBE model to celebrate its success. The CUBE has become a modern classic in its time. So, we are looking at taking the core ingredients of this design and making it more contemporary for the next generation of Garden Rooms customers. All will be revealed soon.