Searching for conservatory ideas? Filled with light and offering a safe connection to the outside world, a conservatory is a lovely way to add space to your home. It’s a room designed for pleasure, where you can make the most of the early morning sun or draw down the conservatory blinds at night to listen to the rain from a cosy armchair.
Amy Cutmore, Digital Editor
26th October 2018
No longer the draughty, single-glazed flimsy constructions that were freezing in the winter and melting hot in the summer, modern conservatories are superbly insulated, secure and come in a huge range of designs.
Whether you dream of a pitched conservatory roof or seamless bifold doors that remove the barrier between house and garden, the modular nature of conservatory design means that it’s fairly straightforward to create a bespoke solution for your space.
While designing and building a conservatory may seem like a daunting task – it doesn’t have to be. We have all the conservatory design ideas and practical advice you need for creating a new room in your home for the whole family to enjoy.
Planning a conservatory
What type of building to go for
Victorian conservatories (with a bay front and pitched roof) and lean-to conservatories (a good budget option) are a couple of the most common types of structures available. Conservatories have always typically been separated by an external door, but nowadays, the big trend for open-plan spaces has changed the way that conservatories are connected to the home. For example, if you want to have a dining table in your conservatory, it’s far easier to serve food there if you can walk straight into it, rather than having to open an external door. It also makes your home appear bigger and makes the garden feel more connected to the inside of the property.
What about an orangery?
Traditionally, orangeries were built to house orange trees and other plants during the colder months. However, nowadays the term is often used to refer to a structure that’s similar to a conservatory, but with a more solid appearance, as there is usually some brickwork and a sturdier roof. A conservatory will typically have more than 75% of the roof glazed and an orangery less than 75% glazed.
Conservatories and building regulations
You don’t generally need planning permission when building a conservatory, unless you happen to live in a listed building or conservation area, though it is always worth checking with your local authority to make sure.
Conservatories that aren’t separated from your home by an external door are subject to building regulations, and will have to be checked by your local authority. Similarly, conservatories that are more than one storey high or larger than 30 square metres in floor area will also need to comply with building regulations.
Maintaining an even temperature in a conservatory can be tricky. In the height of summer, they may be overly hot because of all the sunlight and the rest of the time, they can feel very cold. Thermally efficient glass can help with loss of heat and is worth looking into if you haven’t yet had your structure built.
It’s important to bear in mind that heating in a conservatory should not be connected to the heating in your house, due to building regulations, so a separate system is necessary. Underfloor heating is a good option for its ability to produce even heat, though it can be expensive to install. Fan heaters and electric panel heaters are also suitable.
Choosing the right conservatory furniture is really dependent on how you would like to use the space, whether it’s as a lounge area, breakfast or dining room, or quiet reading area. You don’t have to purchase purpose-built, wicker conservatory furniture, though it’s advisable not to keep your best antiques in the conservatory because of the extreme sunlight and temperature fluctuations. Affordable pieces are the way to go. In fact, a garden bistro set would work well with some colourful cushions to make the seats more comfortable.
How to decorate your conservatory
You’re practically outside in your conservatory, so let your conservatory scheme be inspired by nature and decorate your space with beautiful botanical prints. Add plenty of real plants too for natural colour and greenery. A white scheme would also look really stylish, especially when combined with lots of leafy plants for a beautiful contrast.
With regards to conservatory flooring, tiles are a good option, especially if you have underfloor heating installed. Dark grey slate always looks fantastic and if you’re trampling in and out to the garden, you’ll be thankful that this material barely shows up any dirt. Also, because conservatories are naturally bright, you don’t need to worry about a dark floor creating a sombre environment. Paler stone-coloured tiles or bright patterns would also work well, so be guided by your tastes and preferences. Rugs will warm things up in winter.