9 expert tips to transform your greenhouse from messy junkyard to rustic retreat

Hannah Stephenson reveals how to banish the greenhouse clutter and create a horticultural haven instead.

If you’re tripping over compost bags, battling with broken pots and spent seed trays and can’t find a tool in sight, your greenhouse may be in need of a serious makeover.

Smart gardeners can create a space that’s not only useful for growing plants but acts as an extension of their home – a stylish, comfortable bolthole through the warmer months and beyond, with the help of a little furniture, cushions, wall art and some nifty tidying accessories.

Pretty watering cans can be ornamental and practical (Hannah Stephenson/PA)
Pretty watering cans can be ornamental and practical (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Where to start with your makeover? Follow this greenhouse guide for inspiration, including tips from garden styling pros and Richard Baggaley, director of The Greenhouse People (greenhousepeople.co.uk)…

1. Create a potting corner

Create a potting corner in your greenhouse (iStock/PA)
Create a potting corner in your greenhouse (iStock/PA)

To prevent clutter in your greenhouse, carefully plan your layout and segment the space into purposeful areas. Create a potting corner next to where you grow your fruit and vegetables to make planting more efficient and to save space.

This area needn’t be dull. Place seed packets in a brightly coloured tin to store them safely and add a pop of colour to your greenhouse. Rather than leaving tools in a chaotic heap, a row of hooks will keep everything off the floor and neatly stored.

2. Be bold with plant choice

Cacti love greenhouse conditions and are on trend (iStock/PA)
Cacti love greenhouse conditions and are on trend (iStock/PA)

The greenhouse needn’t just be a space to nurture seedlings. Exotic and tender plants will thrive in the warm environment and brighten up the space.

Fill your greenhouse with a range of desert and succulent plants like cactus, agave and crassula. These easy-care plants flourish inside a greenhouse and are very on-trend.

If botany is more your style, orchids are among the most beautiful and exotic greenhouse plants. They require a high level of humidity though, so store your misting bottle nearby to keep your orchid healthy.

Orchids add colour to the scene (iStock/PA)
Orchids add colour to the scene (iStock/PA)

Tom Barry, managing director of Hartley Botanic (hartley-botanic.co.uk), adds: “Architectural tropical and subtropical species are still very popular with both homeowners and gardeners alike.

“These plants look dramatic and add height within a greenhouse which works well when combined with bench-level succulents and cacti. For colour, and to add an exotic look, orchids in pretty ‘sweet shop’ colours can be grown in individual pots.”

3. Create a cosy nook

Bring your own personality into your greenhouse style (Julia Currie Photography/PA)
Bring your own personality into your greenhouse style (Julia Currie Photography/PA)

Acclaimed author and botanical stylist Selina Lake (Selinalake.co.uk), who styled for Alitex (Alitex.co.uk) at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, suggests you update tired items such as old chairs, metal furniture or plant pots by adding a pop of colour with paints. A simple bench can be turned into a sumptuous day bed with a mass of comfy cushions.

4. Use insect designs

Insect designs are in fashion (Julia Currie Photography/PA)
Insect designs are in fashion (Julia Currie Photography/PA)

Entomology, or the study of insects, is the new botanical trend, adds Lake. Get the look by having a go at drawing bugs on greenhouse windows using a chalk pen.

Add prints and posters in frames or clipped to bare walls and use a wire washing line for another display.

5. Go for a natural look

Think about natural materials (Julia Currie Photography/PA)
Think about natural materials (Julia Currie Photography/PA)

‘Upcycling’ is the word on everyone’s lips – and for a good reason. With items sourced from second-hand shops, or even junkyards, it’s easy to go boho on a budget. Simple changes like a lick of paint on wooden furniture or changing the handles on drawers can have a huge impact, says Baggaley.

In line with environmental issues, forgo plastic items for furniture and accessories made from natural materials such as metals, rattan and bamboo.

6. Find space to sit

Re-use old furniture for a shabby chic look (iStock/PA)
Re-use old furniture for a shabby chic look (iStock/PA)

Baggaley advises: “Add comfort to your glass-walled structure with seating and soft furnishings. Textiles will instantly soften the space and make it feel inviting.

“Be aware that these will fade under the concentrated sunlight, so shop for items with a vintage-inspired design or are second hand to accomplish the shabby-chic look.”

7. Make use of mirrors

Mirrors can make your greenhouse space look bigger (iStock/PA)
Mirrors can make your greenhouse space look bigger (iStock/PA)

Add mirrors inside your greenhouse to reflect light and the sight of your beautiful plants, Baggaley says. Careful placement will give the illusion of more space but do consider what it will be reflecting. Try to reflect the leafy interest in your greenhouse, rather than watering cans or plastic pots.

8. Use your greenhouse as a gallery

Become an artist in your greenhouse (Julia Currie Photography/PA)
Become an artist in your greenhouse (Julia Currie Photography/PA)

To add further interiors-inspired touches to your greenhouse, wall art is a great option to make the space ooze personality and feel more like a home.

Get creative and create your own works of art to display. You could decorate a canvas with cuttings from garden magazines, known in the art world as ‘decoupage’, for garden inspiration as well as decoration.

9. Create a herb haven

Hang and dry herbs in the greenhouse (iStock/PA)
Hang and dry herbs in the greenhouse (iStock/PA)

Drying herbs in a greenhouse is ideal as they dry quickly under the concentrated sunlight, add scent to the space, and look decorative.

Lavender, sage and thyme retain their fragrance when dried – just try to keep them out of direct sun. They dry quickly, so check periodically and package for storage as soon as they are crisp.