Greenhouse ideas: 16 ways to get the most from your garden glasshouse all year long

With these greenhouse ideas, your glasshouse will be so much more than just a space for growing plants, fruit, and veg

greenhouse ideas
(Image credit: Alitex)

Whatever the size, shape, and style of your garden, you can guarantee there are greenhouse ideas out there that are right for you. From ornate glass palaces the Victorians would be proud of through to compact lean-tos and multi-tasking combis, there are all manner of smart designs available. They also double up as handy work and storage spaces, display areas, and, when illuminated, as magical night-time features.

What’s more, greenhouses can be turned into luxe garden rooms. From creating a quiet chill-out spot nestled in amongst the plants to adding in some home comforts and even re-imaging the space for entertaining, there is so much potential with these elegant structures.

Create a sheltered haven for you and your plants with these 16 greenhouse ideas

Our round-up of gorgeous greenhouse ideas will have you feeling inspired in no time.

1. Turn heads with a modern black structure

Alitex greenhouse

(Image credit: Alitex)

Most people think of greenhouses as white, or maybe green, but black is a gorgeous alternative hue. The tone will naturally recede into the background, so it’s ideal if you want to create the illusion of space in a smaller plot. Plus, it will also help the colors of surrounding flowers and foliage to pop.

This structure also incorporates red brick, which softens the look for a timeless appeal. Containers of jolly blooms provide a warm welcome, while the gothic finial up high adds even more character.

Need more advice on garden color schemes? Our guide has you covered.

2. Create a tranquil tea room

summer greenhouse interior from alitex

Enjoy a relaxing cup of herbal tea in your garden retreat

(Image credit: Alitex)

A greenhouse filled with flowers can be the perfect retreat for a cup of calming herbal tea. Even better if the herbs are freshly picked from your herb garden!

Just ensure you’ve got somewhere comfy to sit with plenty of cozy cushions, and a small table or stool to place your favorite mug. Add a soft, flowing curtain from above as a pretty finishing touch – it will offer an extra feeling of Zen as it gently sways in the summer’s breeze.

And if you’re looking to extend the tranquil vibes, why not apply some of our Zen garden ideas outdoors as well?

3. Curate a place to show off homegrown blooms

cut flowers on display in Alitex greenhouse styled by Selina Lake

Create a seasonal display

(Image credit: Alitex/Styling: Selina Lake)

Growing flowers from seed is made infinitely simpler with the help of a greenhouse. And once you've nurtured your seedlings and they’ve flourished into beautiful blooms, it's lovely to have the opportunity to show them off.

Create a space in your greenhouse for a seasonal flower display, and you'll be able to really appreciate the results of your hard work. A second-hand table or chest can make the perfect platform (and can always be upcycled with a lick of paint), then experiment with vintage bottles and other containers for vases. 

A show of dahlias and sunflowers like this is bound to make any onlooker smile.

4. Use the space after dark with soft lighting

Alitex greenhouse with pendant lights

Glow up your greenhouse

(Image credit: Alitex/Styling: Selina Lake)

One way to instantly extend the use of your garden is with outdoor lighting ideas, and this applies to your greenhouse, too. 

By wiring it up to an electrical outlet (hire a professional to ensure this is done safely), you can install all kinds of stylish designs. We adore this mix of pendants, complete with vintage-style bulbs and colorful cords for an eclectic and eye-catching style.

Fairy lights, wall lights, and even solar-paneled lights can also be used to boost the ambiance and practicality factor. Or how about some flickering LED tealights in lanterns to really set a relaxing mood?

5. Relax in a cozy, tropical-style retreat

a greenhouse used as a garden room seating area

Layer architectural foliage around a seating space

(Image credit: Alitex)

The leafy, oxygen-rich surroundings of a greenhouse can be restful, lower stress levels, and help you recharge. It’s also great for a change of scene – well away from a busy household and the same four walls. 

Position large palms and ferns where the sun comes through, so they filter and soften the glare and cast a gentle, dappled light instead. Love the idea of an exotic planting scheme? Find out how to create one with our tropical garden ideas

6. Choose a design to reflect your style

modern aluminium style greenhouse

Cultivar has a great range of greenhouse styles

(Image credit: Cultivar Greenhouses)

A greenhouse doesn't have to feature ornate ironwork and fussy finials. If your preference is for sleek, clean lines then don't worry. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from that will fit with modern garden ideas.

Contemporary-styled models tend to make the frame the prime feature and often highlight the carefully designed proportions, roofline, and doorway with bi-colored finishes and a mix of rounded and squared-off aluminum profiling. Far from dull, these slick and neat structures let in plenty of daylight, still feature plenty of ventilation, and blend in seamlessly with pared-back, urban-style settings.

7. Get the best of both worlds

shed and greenhouse combined in one design

(Image credit: Gabriel Ash)

If you love gardening but don't have room for a greenhouse and one of the best sheds, try one of the latest concepts in greenhouse design – a combi. Part glasshouse, part shed, it's the perfect arrangement for making sure storage, work, and growing space sit neatly and conveniently side-by-side. 

There are a few different arrangements available, so shop around before finding the best for your site. If you are after a structure with a square footprint then a gable-fronted design – that is split into half shed, half glasshouse along the central ridge – is a tidy option. 

Room for a longer, narrower unit? Then try a format such as this design above, where the front-facing greenhouse leads on to a rear potting shed. Built from western red cedar and featuring a characterful aluminum shed roof, you can choose whether to have one or two external swing doors. 

8. Make use of the space at the side of your house

lean-to greenhouse with water butt

A lean-to greenhouse is a useful, space-saving solution

(Image credit: Bailey-Cooper Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

Adding a narrow, lean-to greenhouse is a great way of utilizing wasted space. Pretty simple to install (as long as you have a drain and pipe-free stretch of external wall and paving) these off-the-peg designs can add character to a rather dull area, too. 

Think carefully about how you are going to use the glasshouse. If you need storage, a design with solid, dwarf walls will conceal less-than-lovely essentials, while still leaving room for shelving or wall-hung plants above. If it's a grow-space only – say for growing tomatoes or citrus plants – then a fully-glazed model is definitely the better option.

Don't forget to add a water butt to one side too, to up your sustainable gardening credentials.

9. Opt for a small space wonder

Ikea greenhouse mini shelves

The Hyllis unit from Ikea is perfect for balconies and courtyards

(Image credit: Ikea)

Looking for great balcony ideas? Even with a tiny space, you can still get growing as there are plenty of neat units available with fitted translucent covers. 

Often designed as modules, these multi-purpose designs can be configured to best fit your space. Line them up to create a practical long run of work surface with plenty of easy-to-reach plant space beneath. Or, stack them to create a vertical 'garden' – perfect for tumbling plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers. It's a great way to make use of a narrow but tall outside wall. 

Install them either as freestanding or attach directly to the wall – a must in windy or exposed sites. Think carefully about shelf design, too. Many products feature slatted shelves, allowing daylight to filter through, while others are made from a more rigid, weather-resistant galvanized steel, like these ones pictured above.

10. Zone your greenhouse

greenhouse used for growing plants

(Image credit: Cultivar Greenhouses)

If you want to get more from a larger greenhouse, then consider adding a partition. Designed to split the interior 50/50 or 35/65 with an internal door, it will give you the flexibility on how to best use your space. 

Go for two different temperature zones – creating microclimates for different plant types. Or, use one area as a workspace complete with potting bench and storage and the other as a display and chill-out zone with decorative shelving and a few home comforts. 

Blinds in the chill area will reduce glare, while a rug and integral lighting will help cozy up the space. 

11. Add luxe appeal 

greenhouse used as an outdoor living room space

We love this stylish setup from Hartley Botanic

(Image credit: Hartley Botanic)

With some clever planning and attention to detail, a large greenhouse like this one can double up as a spectacular entertaining space that's perfect for fun garden party ideas

Essentially a light-filled outdoor room, it can add a surprisingly glamorous and quirky edge to sociable suppers, evening drinks, and parties. If you are lucky enough to have power and heating installed, there is no reason not to have fun re-imagining this area. 

Consider adding practical features such as a sink, cupboard, and prep space – maybe by refitting surplus or salvaged kitchen fittings – to design an outdoor kitchen. You can always opt for a portable camping sink with pump and disguise it within smart cabinets if you don't want the hassle of fitting pipework. 

Plants can easily be hung from overhead beams or displayed on tiered stands to help free up floor space. Add a dramatic chandelier, a few reflective garden mirrors and other decorative accessories and watch the space come alive as evening falls.

12. Wow with a barely-there design

modern greenhouse with slimline frame and sleek glazing

This Structural Greenhouse from Pure Greenhouse comes with optional self-cleaning coating, solid oak or reclaimed brick base, and stylish glass shelving

(Image credit: Pure Greenhouse)

Love the thought of an uber-contemporary style? Then how about a glasshouse that simply blends in and virtually ‘disappears’ into its surroundings? Thanks to advances in frameless glazing techniques and the use of super-strong, thick glass, these designs are simply stunning and ideal if you want your outside space to feel as uninterrupted as possible. 

Letting maximum light through to the rest of the garden and casting minimal shade, they are also great if you wish to surround the structure with planting or don't want to block the sun from reaching neighboring patio ideas.

13. Introduce home comforts

greenhouse used as a pretty outdoor room decorated with vintage style furniture and accessories

An uplifting greenhouse interior that's full of color

(Image credit: Alitex/Styling: Selina Lake)

With daylight levels dropping in autumn, it's worth soaking up every drop of mood-boosting vitamin D that's on offer. Creating a second living area in your greenhouse may seem extreme, but with a few cozy and colorful touches it can pay off, even if it's just for a few hours each day. 

You don't necessarily need to invest in some of the best garden furniture – instead, you could scour your home to find key pieces that can be easily relocated. A conservatory bench piled high with throws and cushions can create a comfy sofa, for instance. Or, the outdoor dining table could be moved inside and teamed with mismatched chairs. 

Add in a radio, favorite plants, and some framed pictures, and the result could be a homely snug for all the family. 

14. Go for versatile staging

greenhouse shelf packed with succulents in terracotta pots

Cultivar's fold-down staging is practical and stylish

(Image credit: Cultivar Greenhouses)

Greenhouse shelving – or staging as it is professionally known – is essential as both a work surface and display space for plants and seedlings. There are times, however, when it can get in the way, taking up valuable floor space and proving too bulky and awkward to move. 

Look for companies that offer flexible options such as this fold-down staging shown above. Designed to be lifted or lowered as needed, it’s perfect if you need to accommodate tall-growing tomatoes or to shelter a tall citrus tree or two over winter.

15.  Display plants in style 

small green painted greenhouse used for growing plants

(Image credit: Forest Garden Products)

Short on space but still want to show off your favorite blooms? A mini greenhouse or raised cold frame could be the answer. With a minimal footprint and multiple glazed sides, these neat structures work well on a patio in pride of place next to a shed or just occupying a sunny corner. 

Designed also to protect tender plants or seedlings from harsh conditions or low temperatures, choose from lean-to, raised, and standalone designs. One of our favorites has to be this one above. With opening doors on all four sides, every inch is accessible so you can tend and rearrange your plants whenever you wish.

16. Splash out on a plant theatre

wall greenhouse from Wilstone

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Want to impress with your ever-growing plant collection? Then take a tip from the Victorians and show them off in style with a plant theatre. Ranging from small, glazed carry cases inspired by 19th century Wardian cases favored by botanists to larger, more ornate designs, there are options out there to suit your space. 

The larger designs include numerous adjustable shelves, outward opening doors, and plenty of ventilation and are intended for display rather than practical workplaces. But it's the mirrored back panels that create the real impact. Reflecting light and creating the impression of depth, the effect is mesmerizing. 

How do you style a greenhouse?

Stylist Selina Lake has plenty of top tips on how to transform a greenhouse into a gorgeous living space. 

For fall and winter, she suggests creating a lounge area to ensure you can enjoy the great outdoors and all the seasons have to offer despite the cooler weather. 'To keep it compact, opt for two armchairs and a coffee table to set the scene. A wood burner, or if you have access to electricity, an electric stove, adds warmth – in terms of both ambiance and temperature.

'Once you've arranged the furniture, add some accessories – a vintage standing lamp, a basket filled with rolled blankets ready to cozy up with, and some cushions to add color to plain fabric chairs,' she says.

Selina also suggests choosing a rich color palette for the cooler season. 'Autumn is the season of abundance in the garden, and this is especially true when it comes to color. Plaster pinks, rust tones, deep greens, and mustard yellows are all prevalent, and pair perfectly with deep dark earth hues such as charcoal black and rich browns that are commonly found at this time of year.' Have fun channeling the scheme through soft textiles and tactile accessories for a cozy and aesthetically appealing space. You can extend the theme to your winter patio ideas, too.

And for the warmer months? Think pastels, vintage vases of freshly-picked blooms, terracotta pots filled with springtime bulbs, gingham tablecloths, and beautiful glassware filled with ice-cold drinks – perhaps made complete by a garnish of edible flowers.

alitex greenhouse with wood burner

The Alitex Ickworth Greenhouse styled for the cooler months by Selina Lake

(Image credit: Alitex/Styling: Selina Lake)
Jill Morgan
Freelance writer

Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.