Decorating ideas for a contemporary conservatory January 8, 2018 20:02

Decorating ideas for a contemporary conservatory, glasshouse and everything in-between...

Stylish conservatory furniture by Denys and Fielding


The word 'conservatory' can conjure up a bit of a nightmare: sweltering glass box in the summer, baltic conditions in the winter. But, conservatories have come along way since the seventies, and have slowly, but surely, been losing their "Margo and Jerry" suburban persona. Now, you can opt for a sleek, minimalist glass extension through to an oak framed rustic style addition, and everything in between. Pinterest has had us drooling over a whole host of conservatories and extensions in recent months. Here is the lowdown... 

Why have a conservatory?  

As well as bringing in a whole lot of lovely light, a conservatory can add that little extra room to a house, even in the smallest of areas. Conservatories also act as an ideal bridge between indoors and outside, often providing lovely views to the garden. In fact, their heritage is linked heavily with gardening - originally used to provide protection to shrubs and herbs. Many people still use them to enjoy the extra light and heat that is provided to tender plants. Adaptable to your needs, a conservatory can double up as a seating area, dining room, play room - in fact, the list is endless. 


Glass Extension by HUT, London

Glass extension or conservatory? 

Perhaps, in a bid to shrug off that old reputation, or just to purely describe it more accurately, 'glass extension' is now a term regularly used by architects and builders. It appears interchangeable with the term 'conservatory' - although the latter typically has a lockable door between it and the main house. The conservatory also tends to have more traditional connotations - a pitched glass roof, short, brick walls, or floor to ceiling glass walls. Meanwhile glass extensions are maximalist on the glass front, minimal on the structure - think steel supports often underpinning strong, modernist shapes - angular square and rectangular glass boxes. To the right of your screen is a gorgeous example by London based Architect's HÛT. The glass extension provides a wonderful new dining room for owners. The brick interior wall blends indoors with outdoors, as does the brick built bench running the length of the wall. Meanwhile, the continuous flow of the flooring and lighting makes it clear that this glass extension is a contemporary, but fitting addition to the existing home. 

While we're at it, lets cover  off two other types of 'indoor / outdoor' room: the Orangery and the Sunroom. The term orangery harks back to an age where growing and owning citrus fruit was a symbol of wealth and status. An orangery was often a separate building - positioned away from the main house, located in a spot that was perfect for making the most of every sunbeam. As its name suggests, an orangery would traditionally house citrus fruits - growing gorgeously exotic fruits to 'wow' visitors to the Estate. Orangery's often have less glass than a conservatory or glass extension. The shape of the roof is often different too - with a flat roofing area around the perimeter of the building. 

Sunrooms are hotspots - warm, sunny rooms, usually integral to a house with a solid roof. The ceiling is often interspersed with windows for extra ventilation and light. 

Planning regulations differ for each type of addition to your home, so it is worth consulting with an architect or conservatory fitter before undertaking any work.

Aren't conservatories a little cold in winter? 

Not necessarily. Many suppliers now use clever techniques and technologies to improve insulation and energy efficiency. This includes glass that has a special coating to insulate during the winter, and deflect heat in the summer. There is also 'self cleaning' glass, to make smears, mould and stains a thing of the past... or at least reducing the regularity of the chore. 

How do you go about decorating a conservatory? 

That all depends on how you intend to use the space. For us, it's all about comfort, colour and style. If you are worried about a conservatory feeling cold, there is no better way to inject a sense of heat than by adding rich, warm tones to your decor. Add lush, green houseplants and you'll start to blur indoors with your garden, creating a sense of continuity to your space. Opt for furniture that is flexible - dining tables that can reduce down in size as well as supersize when you've got a crowd in; garden chairs that can be put away, enjoyed outside when the weather is warm, and good looking enough to use indoors as well as outside. 


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