Orangery or Conservatory? Understand the Difference Before You Buy

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When deciding between an orangery or conservatory, they may seem about the same. Click here to learn the difference so you know which is right for you.

Building an orangery or conservatory is one of the most cost-effective ways to add a few zeroes to the value of your home.

In fact, when they’re well built, these additions can increase the value of your property by as much as 5%. That’s not a bad investment, considering that they’re cheaper to build than traditional brick and mortar extensions.

Although they’re similar in many ways, there a few important differences between orangeries and conservatories.

Here’s what you need to know before you start planning one of these home extensions.

What Is an Orangery?

As the name suggests, orangeries were originally built to shelter citrus trees from the elements.

Traditionally, these glass-roofed buildings were separate from the house and considered part of the garden. In Europe, they became popular status symbols between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Nowadays, you can also build your orangery room as an extension of your house to create extra space and allow more natural light into the interior.

As such, they are popular for dining nooks, private entertainment areas or as a place to relax while soaking up the sunlight.

Some well-known orangeries are:

  • The Orangery at Kensington Palace which is now a restaurant
  • Margam Orangery in Wales
  • The orangery at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, once the largest in England
  • The Orangery at Versailles which is the world’s biggest

An orangery doesn’t need to be enormous to serve its purpose and size has nothing to do with why it differs from a conservatory.

What Is a Conservatory?

Just like an orangery, glass is the main feature of a conservatory room. By definition, a conservatory must have 50% glazing on its sidewalls and 75% on the roof.

Conservatories entered the history books in the 16th century when landowners built these type of greenhouses to keep their plants warm in winter.

Unlike orangeries, conservatories were often attached to the house. Like orangeries, the rich and famous were inordinately fond of these home additions.

It was only in the 1950s, that homeowners started adding sunrooms to their homes to keep themselves warm. Traditional Victorian-style conservatory construction resurfaced in the 1970s.

Some of the best-known conservatories are:

  • The Louvre Pyramid, based on conservatory design
  • Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory
  • The Eden Project in Cornwall
  • Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

Do conservatories and orangeries still seem pretty much the same to you?

Let’s get down to the finer details that set these two designs apart.

Design and Construction

Like all ground floor works, the foundations for an orangery and a conservatory are the same and depend on the lie of the land.

Above the ground is where the two construction processes go their separate ways.

Although you are free to design your orangery as you please, orangeries usually have more brickwork than conservatories do.

Most often, when the orangery is not attached to the house, it features an elaborate style of its own, rather than blending in with the rest of the house.

Typically, an orangery has four solid columns supporting a flat roof with a roof lantern in the middle.

If you build an orangery to join an existing structure, the lantern can also be against the back wall.

There are no rules about the size of the lantern or its positioning.

A conservatory roof consists entirely of glass panels, often with a gable. There is no rim of flat roof alongside the guttering.

This means you get the maximum benefit of the sunlight flowing into the room.

Materials Used

Conservatories typically consist of aluminum, uPVC, and timber walls and roofs. Orangeries are usually timber or brick constructions with windows.

Below the roof, windows and French doors make up the glass part of an orangery. Conservatories have sturdy glass panels.

Insulation and double or triple glazing for temperature control is a common feature in both cases and you also have the option to install self-cleaning glass.

There are a huge variety of designs to choose from, such as:

  • Victorian
  • Edwardian
  • Gable
  • P-Shaped
  • Lean-to
  • Lantern

If none of these suit your style, speak to your contractor about creating a custom-design of your own invention.

Why Build an Orangery or Conservatory?

With the bespoke options available today, it is common for both orangeries and conservatories to cross the line with regard to design.

Whatever you want to call your conservatory or orangery extensions they’re both excellent ways to add natural light and space to your home.

You don’t need planning permission to build them and the whole process can be complete within a few weeks.

There’s no limit to what you can do with your new home addition, provided you make provision for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

A conservatory can serve as an office, study, playroom, dining area, family room, guest room or for extra storage.

Naturally, you can also use them for their original purpose, which is protecting plants from the elements. Your glass-walled plant emporium is a great place to potter around among your prized specimens no matter the weather.

It’s pure bliss to spend time surrounded by expansive views of your garden, with sunlight streaming in from all sides.

Adding an extension to your home is far more time and cost-effective than relocating to a larger house when needed.

While a brick and mortar extension will do the trick just as easily, they can’t match the attractive wow-factor that a conservatory or orangery bring to your home.

Still Can’t Decide? We Can Help

It’s a highly personal decision whether to choose an orangery or conservatory when upgrading your home.

Basically, the choice boils down to what suits the design of your house, your personal preferences and how much light you want to let in.

Either way, we can help you to build the extension of your dreams.

Get in touch today to discuss a tailor-made solution for your home.

Warmseal Editor

Warmseal Editor

Head admin and editor of the Warmseal blog. Sharing all the latest news and information regarding Warmseal.
Warmseal Editor