Conservatory Design – What You Need to Know

Conservatories, orangeries, sunrooms, atriums or glass houses — whatever you call it. They are undoubtedly a very beautiful and modern, yet traditional extension for your house.

A conservatory essentially consists of the following—

1) Glass roofs, walls, doors and windows. The material used here is not the normal glass, but special safety glasses that are single, double or triple glazed.

2) Frames in which the glass is to be set. Frames may be made of wood, aluminum or plastic (UPVC). They may be simple and elegant or designer and exotic.

3) Opaque material like brick, stone or wooden walls and panels used in some places to create different look, as well as to increase privacy and security.

4) Flooring may consist of cement, ceramic tiles or wooden floor boards.

5) Locking system and child proof handles.


All conservatories are basically permutations, combinations, modifications and improvements of these elements.

A house is a product of an architect’s imagination and its inmates’ lifestyle. Ditto for an orangery, that becomes as much a part of the house. The following factors need to be taken into account while designing or choosing a conservatory:

1) Purpose: It is important to clearly define what the conservatory is going to be used for. Originally, it was used to grow tropical plants, safeguarding it from extreme weather conditions. Gradually, it became popular as banquet halls. Today, it is used as a cosy living room with a view!

The design, location and materials will vary according to the purpose. If plants are to be kept, flooring that allows for water spillage should be used.

2) Location: An atrium can be built on any open empty space around our house. South facing sunrooms are preferred for more sunlight and warmth. North facing atriums require more insulation. It is practical to have the conservatory open towards the garden. Building it as an extension of the kitchen or dining area is useful. Creating it as an entrance lounge is savvy.

3) Budget and Finance: Budgets have veto power on conservatory decisions. Research the market well for different types of conservatory and material prices. Check the promotions and offers that are available. Watch for guarantees and quality considerations. Cheap financing options from banks and housing societies are also common. Fix an appropriate budget that can accommodate your dream conservatory. Size and materials can be varied to suit budgets.

4) Design of the existing house: An atrium should blend in completely with the present house and should not look like a forced extension. The colour of the conservatory, the material of the walls and the shape of the roof should ideally match that of the house.

5) Size of the conservatory: The size should be in sync with the size of the house, budget and the requirements. Sunrooms need not be too big as the transparent roofs and large windows give an abundance of light and an impression of spaciousness.

6) Placement of doors and windows: Wise placement of the door that opens towards the garden or pathway can enhance the utility and decor of the atrium. Windows opening in the direction of the breeze increase air circulation. The entrance of the orangery from the house should be wide. This allows the light to spread into the house. Also provides easy accessibility and a good view.

Some predefined standard conservatory designs are as follows—
a) Edwardian/ Georgian conservatories are simple rectangle shaped sunrooms with pitched top and dwarf brick walls. Ideal for both plants as well as living rooms. Dwarf walls help conceal furniture. Long window sills provide shelf space.

b) Gable fronted conservatory gives an exotic look with curved roof frames, in the shape of sunrise. High roofs give a sense of space.

c) Victorian conservatory has the roof glazing spread out in a circular shape like the playing cards held in one hand. This allows sunlight from all directions.

d) Orangeries that have high brick walls and pillars tend to gel more with the house. They are like a brightly lit room of the house.

e) Lean – towards atriums have a low pitched roof. They are contemporary, practical and low budget. Are good where high roof conservatories are not possible.

f) Bespoke conservatories are tailor made to the requirements of the owner. They can be made economical or elaborate. Innovative layouts include P-shaped, L-shaped and T-shaped. These shapes allow the conservatory to be used for dual purposes at the same time.

It is very much possible to design conservatories by altering the above patterns and adapting it to suit your requirements. So which one is your dream conservatory?

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