Bird house design ideas: 11 cute styles that will attract wildlife to your garden

Welcome feathered friends to your plot with these bird house design ideas – from rustic looks to colorful styles

bird house design ideas: bright colors
(Image credit: Adie Bush/Cultura/Getty Images)

Want to welcome more wildlife to your garden? Then these bird house design ideas are for you. Every plot can benefit from the sense of life, movement, and color that fluttering feathered friends bring, and their homes can make a stunning feature, too.

Watching birds is a peaceful and relaxing activity for all ages, but providing a bird house is also beneficial to them in an environmental sense. With the bird populations sadly declining, it's good to offer a helping hand by providing a safe place for them to nest. 

There are tons of styles that you can go for, so it's easy to choose a design that will blend beautifully into your plot. We've rounded up some of our favorite bird house design ideas to get you feeling inspired – just keep scrolling to see for yourself.

And if you're looking for more tips, don't forget to check out our wildlife garden ideas.

1. Fix it to a fence

bird house design ideas: hung up on fence

Pep up your fence by attaching bird house design ideas

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson/Future)

This bird house is a real show-stopper. Attached to a blue-grey fence behind, it feels cool and sophisticated and complements the industrial-style shelves nearby beautifully. 

Its pointed, tiled roof adds tons of visual interest and we love the black banded details too, which are used to hang it up securely. It's not just a home for birds – it's also a stylish focal point.

Love the look? Head over to our garden fence ideas for more inspiration.

2. Opt for an understated palette

bird house design ideas: white and green bird house with bunting

Try a mint and white color scheme

(Image credit: Sussie Bell/Future)

A lovely choice for cottage garden ideas, this simple bird house still makes a pretty impact with its soothing tones of mint and white. Hung from a leafy tree, it makes a great spot for birds to nest (and bunting strung up nearby adds a perfect finishing touch).

The hand-painted style adds to its laid-back charm. To recreate the look, why not try painting a plain, wooden design yourself? That way, you can decorate your bird house design ideas to suit the color scheme of your plot. Head over to our best exterior wood paint buying guide for our top picks. Remember to choose non-toxic varieties to keep your bird house design ideas safe for inhabitants.

3. Paint your bird house design ideas in bright colors

bird house design ideas: brightly colored birdhouses being held up

Bright colors add a playful touch

(Image credit: Adie Bush/Cultura/Getty Images)

Bird house design ideas can be used to add a burst of vibrant color to your garden – just take a look at these bold designs. Hot pinks, ocean blues, lime greens and sunny yellows all make playful picks that are great for family garden ideas.

Get the kids involved by teaching them about the native birds and keep watch together. It's a great way to help them learn about nature and the sight of birds flitting in and out is good for everyone's wellbeing.

4. Go for classic details and yellow tones

bird house design ideas: yellow and white house on stand

A lemon-yellow bird house with white details makes a pretty addition

(Image credit: Brent Darby/Future)

This little yellow home is perfect for small visiting birds and adds a whimsical charm to any plot. We adore the miniature details, from the trellis and window frames to the adorable scalloped roof.

Raised up on a stand, it's kept safely out of harm's way, without taking up too much room. Plus, its freestanding nature means its super versatile – simply pop along the back of a border or in a quiet spot near your patio ideas for a splash of sunny color.

5. Look for minimal designs

bird house design ideas: terracotta balls by Green&Blue

(Image credit: Green&Blue)

These gorgeous bird house design ideas are great for modern plots. Made of ceramic, they offer a stylish, sculptural shape that is inspired by the natural form of bird's nests.

They are the perfect size for small nesting birds such as blue tits, coal tits or marsh tits and will keep predators out. Hung from a tree, they make a simple yet stunning statement.

If you're a fan of the look, then our modern garden ideas feature has more designs you'll love.

6. Add plenty of rustic charm

bird house design ideas: rustic style in tree

Rustic bird house design ideas blend beautifully amongst the trees

(Image credit: Peter Cade/Stone/Getty Images)

This style is wonderful if you fancy something a little more natural for your bird house design ideas. However, it still has plenty of adorable details – just look at that sign! Tucked safely amongst the branches of a well-established tree, it's the perfect spot for smaller birds to nest in.

When attaching a bird house to a tree, try to avoid using nails as they can cause damage. Instead, the RSPB suggests to use a nylon bolt, or a piece of wire surrounded in an offcut of hose and then wrapped around the branch or trunk. Remember that trees grow thicker over time, so if you're using the latter approach, you may need to adjust it every couple of years or so.

7. Attach wind chimes for a sensory delight

bird house design ideas: windchimes

Soft wind chimes make a lovely addition to bird house design ideas

(Image credit: Rachel Weill/UpperCut Images/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Wind chimes are a lovely addition to sensory garden ideas, providing a soothing sound in the breeze. And, the smaller ones can actually attract curious birds, so why not incorporate them into your bird house design ideas?

These simple designs above look utterly adorable and will offer gentle tones as birds fly in and out. Avoid going for larger, louder chimes though, as these can startle your feathered friends and keep them away.

8. Try angular shapes

bird house design ideas: triangular wooden design from Rockett St George

(Image credit: Rockett St George)

A minimal, triangular shape like this oozes with Scandinavian style and will look great hung up on a white-washed wall or fence. It's a pared-back look, but its subtle details make it a sophisticated choice. We particularly like the stained black roof and the small metal plaque.

The front panel detaches to make for easy cleaning once your birds have finished nesting, and there's also a handy hook on the back for simple installation. Functional and stylish, what's not to love?

9. Up the romance with heart-shaped details

bird house design ideas: heart shaped

This bird box is full of charm

(Image credit: Photo by Rafa Elias/Moment/Getty Images)

Add a homely feel to your garden by incorporating heart-shaped details into your bird house design ideas. By keeping a natural finish to the materials, the look will feel rustic rather than kitsch and blend beautifully into your plot.

Hang from an apple tree for a charming scene, or in one of the best flowering trees. Complete the romantic vibe with some of our best cottage garden plants nearby.

10. Go chic with grey

bird house ideas: white small bird box from Garden Trading

(Image credit: Graden Trading)

Go for stylish grey hues for bird house design ideas that have a touch of elegance. This lovely design provides a safe nesting spot for little birds and looks great, too. 

It's crafted from spruce wood, and painted in non-toxic stains. What's more, the front can be removed, making upkeep simple. The clean lines make it a good choice for contemporary spaces – simply attach to a wall or tree with the useful loop on the back.

11. Add a tropical twist

bird house design ideas: watermelon style

Put a fruity spin on your bird house design ideas

(Image credit: Education Images/Contributor/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

If you're a fan of our tropical garden ideas, then this bird house design may be the one for you. It's fun, it's fruity, and it will look fabulous positioned around other brightly-colored features, tree ferns, and (if you're lucky) a pool.

It's a refreshing twist on more classic designs, and the wooden perch makes a nice addition.

Why is it good to provide nestboxes for birds?

bird house design ideas: yellow house with blue tit

Welcome wildlife with your bird house design ideas

(Image credit: Jörg Lücking/EyeEm/Getty Images)

As well as making our gardens more enjoyable places to be in, nestboxes are good for providing some much-needed support to wildlife. Sadly, 'birds all over the UK are declining, with 40 million birds vanishing from our skies in the past 50 years,' says the experts at the RSPB. 'This includes some of our beloved garden birds such as starlings and house sparrows who are losing their natural nest sites fast. Larger birds are also struggling as trees are felled or blown over, and buildings are knocked down or converted.' A decline is happening in the US, too.

'The good news is that well-designed and well-placed nestboxes can replicate holes in trees or buildings and so provide a much-needed boost to that parent looking for a place to raise their chicks,' they continue. 'Putting up a birdbox also means you might get to see a whole family of birds growing up!'

Want to help more wildlife in your plot? Find out how to grow a butterfly garden.

How do you make a simple bird house?

bird house design ideas: blue box with white detail

This blue-hued beauty is a soothing choice

(Image credit: Mark Scott/Future)

'Making a bird house can be a really fun way to care for your local birds,' says the RSPB. But, it's important to make sure it's safe and in the right position for them.

'Chemicals in wood can be harmful, for example, and it's important the wood is thick enough to protect the chicks from both heat and cold.'

There's lots more information and a step-by-step guide on the RSPB website, but here are some starting points from their team to help you add one to your garden:

  1. Do you have the right materials? The wood must be thick enough (at least 15mm) to insulate the nest box from both cold and heat, and to stop the box warping in the wet. You can use exterior-quality plywood (for a light box) or, for something sturdier, hardwoods (such as oak and beech) or soft wood (such as pine, but this will deteriorate more quickly). We also do not recommend using CCA pressure-treated timber, since the leachates may harm birds. Softwood boxes should be treated with a non-toxic water-based wood preservative, but make sure to only apply this to the outside of the box and not around the entrance hole. Whatever you use, make sure the box dries and airs thoroughly before putting it up.
  2. What size? The next thing to consider is what birds might come stay in your lovely bird house, as different species have different needs. Blue tits, for example, need an entrance hole of 25mm and a nestbox around 150mm wide, while starlings and woodpeckers need an entrance hole of 45mm and a 180mm wide nestbox.

Want to try your hand at building a home for insects, too? Our guide on how to make a bug hotel has straightforward, step-by-step advice.

What do you put in a bird house to attract birds?

bird house design ideas: dovecote amongst hollyhocks

A dovecote is a traditional feature that's perfect for country-classic gardens

(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography/Moment/Getty Images)

'The good news with a bird house is that once you’ve selected it and put it up in a safe location, the birds will do the rest,' says the experts at RSPB. 'Different species use different materials to build their nests so it's best to leave them to it rather than putting anything inside the house.'

'You can always go that extra step, however, by putting out nesting material in your garden or outdoor space – natural sheep's wool will quickly get snatched up, as will twigs and sticks, feathers, plant stems, or fresh cut grass.'

There's more information on how you can help out wildlife on the RSPB website. And, if you're looking for more advice on how to attract birds into your garden, take a look at our guide.

Do birds like swinging bird houses?

'Fixed nestboxes are more stable and secure, but not everyone has walls or trees they can fix them to,' says the experts at RSPB. 'In that case, you can hang nestboxes from branches by wire, and some birds, such as blue tits, are still likely to make good use of them.'

'They do make things a bit trickier for some birds (you can imagine the entrance hole becoming a rapidly moving target in high winds!), but they can sometimes help to keep predators away.'

You can find lots more ways to help birds and other local wildlife on the newly launched RSPB project, Nature on Your Doorstep.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.