The Extension Series The pros and cons of conservatories


With winter upon us daylight is increasingly on our mind as the days get shorter and shorter. Daylight, and sunshine, are at a premium and we begin to think about how great it would be to have a space in the house that would allow us to soak up both without having to wrap up in multiple layers of warm clothes or getting buffeted around by wild winds.

A conservatory or orangery would be a brilliant thing to have right now, wouldn’t it? Just think… You could relax in it during the winter and make even more of it during the summer months. If you plan well enough ahead, you could have one ready for next summer! Which is right for you and your home though, a conservatory or orangery? This month sees the first in a three-part series exploring the differences between them, the pros and cons, and some advice to help you decide which is best for your home.

The difference between a conservatory and an orangery

While both are home extensions, there are some fundamental differences between them. Orangeries pre-date conservatories and first made an appearance in the 17th century. Originally used by wealthy families to grow citrus fruits (hence the name), they functioned as a form of greenhouse. Built using bricks and glass orangeries blend into the existing property style more. Orangeries evolved into conservatories over time as glass began to replace brick for the walls. Conservatories therefore look quite different to the rest of a property and have the appearance of an ‘added-on’ structure. Their primary purpose is to let in the light and give a virtually unobstructed view outside.

Conservatories: the pros and cons

Conservatories are a way of bringing the outdoors inside, without having to deal with the elements. Built primarily of glass, they have an airy feel and can be more of an architecturally-designed addition to your home. You have the option of adding bi-fold doors and be able to step straight out into the garden. A conservatory offers more flexibility in terms of design as it does not have to follow the same style as your home and done well can add great value to your property. You are likely to need planning permission for any extension, so it is worth looking into what is required to help you decide what to do and how much money to set aside.

Conservatories will also have pitched glass roofs letting in the sun and warmth all year round. This does mean though that your conservatory’s aspect will play a big part in any decision. A south- or west-facing aspect will maximise your light and sun in the winter but could get a little too warm in the summer months. Ventilation options and bi-fold doors that can open and let in cooler air, or blinds, will be some things to consider and to be factored into your budget. An east- or north-facing aspect will mean cooler summers but colder winters, so heating will be a consideration. Regardless of aspect though, conservatories will require careful consideration of heating and cooling options due to the amount of glass.

Conservatories can be hugely versatile. They can be a simple extension to a kitchen or dining area, they can be used to create a children’s play area, or can allow you to reconfigure your existing space by moving your kitchen (and potentially creating a bigger one than what you currently have).

Next month we explore orangeries in more detail and take a look at their pros and cons.

If you would like more information or some advice on conservatories or orangeries our Parsons Joinery team can advise and install them for you. To make an appointment give us a call on 01273 814870 or email us at