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20 Genius Conservatory Ideas to Suit Every Home

lean-to Conservatory Ideas can create lots of extra space for your home
Lean-to conservatory by Vale Garden Houses (Image credit: Vale Garden Rooms)

Our round-up of conservatory ideas will help you create a beautiful room with a view that seamlessly extends into the garden. 

Adding a conservatory to your home will not only boost your living space but allow you to enjoy your garden all year round. 

First, it's important to distinguish between conservatories, sunrooms, orangeries and glazed extensions. Conservatories need to have at least two thirds of the room's roof and a minimum of 50% the walls made of glass to fall into this category. 

Orangeries generally feature a flat or mansard roof with a glazed lantern for extra light while sunrooms often have a solid roof and large panels of glazing. These distinctions are important regarding Building Regulations, but the ideas associated can be generally carried from project to project. 

Depending on your style of home and your budget, these multi-purpose glazed extensions are available in a range of configurations, from off-the-shelf options to fully bespoke designs.

Conservatory Ideas: What is the Best Use for a Conservatory? 

"Considering the functionality of the room at design stage is paramount — traditional uses for a conservatory include a living room or dining room but they have evolved in recent years to include creating space for a larger kitchen extension and, during the pandemic in particular, as a home office," advises Karen Bell, sales director at David Salisbury

"A conservatory will add multi-functional living space that can be used for a wide variety of uses," she adds.

"A bespoke conservatory can be designed to suit almost any style of property, from period or listed buildings to more contemporary-style homes. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a conservatory is the abundant volume of natural light that will fill the room during the day. Conservatories are often added to the rear of properties that were previously quite dark, suffering from low light levels."

1. Use a Modern Conservatory to Create a Connection with the Garden

conservatory living space with flooring and patio area

(Image credit: London Tile Co)

One of the biggest draws of adding a new conservatory or upgrading an existing one is the instant link it forms between the house and the outdoor spaces. 

A mid-way sanctuary, conservatories offer the best of both worlds, and modern advancements in glazing and insulation mean they can be suitable for use all year-round. 

Here, matching indoor and outdoor porcelain flooring tiles means that when the patio doors are opened, the boundaries are blurred and the space feels beautifully light and open. 

2. Build a Small Conservatory to Make a Big Impact

white small conservatory with pitched roof and patio area

This townhouse conservatory is by Vale Garden Houses. (Image credit: Vale Garden Houses)

Light is the best way to open up a small space, which is why compact conservatories often appear more spacious than they are and can sometimes work better than building an extension.

A smaller conservatory cost will also be lower than a traditional brick-and-block extension and will come with a fraction of the disruption and disturbance. 

Small designs work well with terraced homes and cottages, but it is best to give them a purpose. They make the perfect light-filled hobby room, a spot for reading or even a home office design.

3. Add an Orangery to a Period Property

cream timber conservatory with sash windows and patio doors

This bespoke orangery design with a glass roof by Vale Garden Houses. (Image credit: Vale Garden Houses)

Classic orangery ideas tend to be sympathetic to the existing property, blending in with the look and feel of your home. An orangery is a more substantial building that has less glass and more structured walls. They tend to have a solid roof with a large glazed roof lantern in the centre. 

Look at including colours and materials that complement, and pay attention to the overall design and roof style.

“Where possible utilise matching building materials for the base works — reclaim or handmade bricks, stone, flint facings and render, all need to be appropriate to the building and the area in which you reside,” says Lisa Morton, director at Vale Garden Houses.

4. Opt for a Pop of Colour in a New Conservatory

dining room in a conservatory with pendant light

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Manufacturers can add colour to your conservatory frame to match your existing home, or to create a striking contrast. Natural shades and muted greens are a popular choice for period properties, while grey and white tend to be better suited to modern houses. 

“If you’re looking to add colour into your conservatory, PVCu or timber are now widely available in an array of colours and finishes and can even be made with wood grain details. With the option of choosing a dual colour combination, homeowners are allowed to add colour into their conservatories in a variety of ways,” says Ryan Schofield, managing director of Thames Valley Window Company.

5. Discover Alternative Materials to uPVC

relaxed sitting area in a conservatory with blinds

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

While uPVC is the most cost-effective option for a conservatory's structural material it isn't the most long-lasting of choices. Modified timbers like Accoya or oak frame conservatories provide a characterful and sustainable alternative, but often come with a hefty price to match. 

Softwoods like larch or Douglas fir also require more maintenance than a homeowner might want from a larger structure, although could be styled to match a period home with painted timber windows. 

Aluminium is a strong contender for the contemporary appearance and uninterrupted views of a uPVC conservatory and has the benefit of being a strong, durable material. 

6. Update Conservatory Interiors with Character and Personality

bookcase in a modern sunroom conservatory and roof lantern

(Image credit: Vale Garden Houses)

Existing conservatories can often be left to date due to their ancillary nature to the rest of the 'more permanent' spaces inside the house. However, considering conservatory interior ideas while designing the structure of your new garden room will make all the difference when it comes time to enjoy it throughout the year. 

Consider decoration of the dwarf wall, interesting conservatory lighting ideas and modern flooring choices. 

Taking it's cue from sunroom ideas, this space masterfully adds a pop of colour and personality with a full-height bookcase full of personal items and books. A similar effect can be produced in a conservatory with freestanding units or a characterful shelving display along the exterior wall of the main house. 

7. Match Conservatory Flooring to it's Purpose

black grey conservatory structure with view of garden

(Image credit: Thames Valley Window Company)

Conservatory flooring ideas should be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. 

As the conservatory sits between the interior and exterior zones of a house it must always be durable and ready to take on heavy footfall. Porcelain and stone tiles are great options for spaces with a lot of through-traffic as they're quick and easy to clean — plus they can be matched with exterior anti-slip options for a seamless transition onto the patio. 

While carpet can offer a warmth of conservatory living rooms, they have the potential to get wear quickly, so be sure to research the best carpet types for your room. 

LVT and laminate options are often a smart choice for conservatories as they're more cost-effective, easy to maintain and can come in a range of styles. 

8. Consider a Glass Box Extension

modern conservatory extension with dining area and bifold doors

(Image credit: Thames Valley Windows Company)

If you're considering replacing conservatory with an extension, carry over the best elements you enjoyed about the garden room, such as views out to the garden or a contemporary finish. 

An extension will be a more permanent addition so include stylish conservatory designs, such as floor-to-ceiling glass walls which will look stunning from every angle and bifold or sliding patio doors to retain that connection with the outdoors. 

Glass extension ideas can come in all shapes and sizes and for a range of budgets — they might be a good compromise between a long-lasting structure and a garden room. 

9. Make the Roof a Feature in Your Conservatory

Traditional Conservatory to brick house

This Victorian style conservatory in Norfolk has a characterful glass pitched roof. (Image credit: Vale Garden Company)

If your conservatory is looking tired or feels cold and unpleasant to inhabit, opt for a conservatory roof replacement to give it a new lease of life. 

This could be with a solid roof featuring roof lanterns or roof lights or a fresh design which suits the style of your home more. 

Insulating a conservatory roof in this way will create a more welcoming room that doesn't fluctuate in temperature in summer and winter — while reducing energy wastage. 

10. Create Instant Wow-factor with a Large Glazed Kitchen Extension

kitchen conservatory with glazed roof and sitting area

Use a glass extension to extend your house and kitchen area like this design by  Westbury Garden Rooms (Image credit: Westbury Garden Rooms)

A large glazed extension is perfect for creating a multipurpose living space, especially if you're accustomed to a glass garden room but are weighing up the benefits of choosing an extension or conservatory

Ideal for a light and airy kitchen, adding a kitchen conservatory extension will open up your house to create a social space, with garden views — perfect for cooking and entertaining come rain or shine. 

11. Install Blinds to Keep a Conservatory Cool

green blinds in conservatory living area

Multi-functional, Perfect Fit Roller Blinds from Swift Direct Blinds  (Image credit: Perfect Fit Blinds)

Curtains don't often match the modern appearance of a conservatory and obstruct the views outside, but to make the most of your space, you will want to focus on adding conservatory blind ideas or window films to create shade, as well as privacy.

Electric blinds are a great way to cover a glass ceiling area that is hard to reach, but can become expensive as there will be a lot of glass to cover. You can however get poles to help you manually open roof blinds to keep costs down.

12. Add a Heat Source to a Conservatory for Year-Round Use

dining room conservatory with a radiator and a view

(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

Heating a conservatory might seems counter-productive as so many of us have memories of sweltering summers in a glass box, but as more modern conservatory structures are better insulated, adding a heat source will encourage use during colder winters as well. 

Whether it's underfloor heating, a radiator, or a log burning stove, adding a source to stay warm in the winter is a great idea for all glazed structures. 

This is especially important to rooms designed to be used in the evenings, such as a living or dining room. 

13. Build a Lean-to Conservatory

Lean to conservatory with seating area and radiator

Lean-to conservatoires work for all style of houses. (Image credit: Getty)

The most popular conservatory is a lean-to conservatory with a single, angular sloping roof. Often referred to as a modern-day garden room, it is a simple and affordable design that can be adapted to suit both period properties and modern homes.

“Lean-to structures are simpler in style than traditional conservatory designs, with large expanses of glass that make the most of outside views. These structures also pair perfectly with bifold and sliding doors and suit nearly every home,” says Ryan Schofield of Thames Valley Window Company.

"In addition, a lean-to conservatory can be designed to wrap around a corner of a property, extending dual aspects of the home. This is particularly attractive if outside space allows it and there are different views to be enjoyed. If extending a listed property, a lean-to style conservatory is also most likely to be looked on favourably by planners," adds Karen Bell, sales director at David Salisbury.

14. Finish a Conservatory with Beautiful Patio Doors

patio doors and blinds in a conservatory with large roof lantern

(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

When designing a new conservatory, one key decision to make is which type of patio doors to include.

Sliding and bifold doors are ideal for contemporary styles that need to be pulled back for a seamless inside/outside environment, while traditional French or Belgian offer a charm to match period properties. 

15. Avoid Overheating in the Summer

conservatory with patio doors and solar control windows

This Purlfrost product can be applied directly to a window with options for special finishes: tinted, reflective, heat rejection and UV control. (Image credit: Purlfrost)

With such large amounts of glazing, it's no wonder old conservatories can be unusable in the height of summer. However, taking this into consideration when designing or upgrading a conservatory is essential for a modern space. 

Looking for glazing which has a special coating is one way to combat overheating, while retrofitting solar control window films is a cost-effective option for existing spaces. 

16. Use Lighting to Set an Evening Ambiance

conservatory at night with outdoor lighting

(Image credit: Westbury Garden Rooms)

Although conservatories and orangeries will be flooded with natural light during the day, they can become dark and uninviting at night, so it pays to consider your artificial lighting design. 

  • Well placed, dimmable, wall lights will twinkle against the glass
  • The addition of softer table lights will create a relaxing, warm glow
  • Built-in, discreet spotlights can add directional lighting along walls and are especially suited to orangeries and glazed extensions
  • LED strip floor lighting is also a good choice along any steps or split level areas
  • Light your garden with outdoor lights to create something that glows beyond the glass

17. Use a Conservatory for a Light-filled Dining Area

invisible conservatory for dining room with plants

(Image credit: ercol)

Come rain or shine, experience the joys of eating outside with getting soggy by using a conservatory as a dining room. 

Elegant and effortlessly stylish, this modern dining room feels light and bright for a morning brunch, while the wired pendant light means the space is ready for dazzling on an evening with guests.

18. Add a Touch of Elegance with a Traditional Conservatory

side conservatory extension with sitting area and patio

Beautiful yet traditional this conservatory design, by Westbury Garden Rooms, looks wonderful with it's glazed walls and glass roof. (Image credit: Westbury Garden Rooms)

For something architecturally striking, an Edwardian-style conservatory often has a square shape and large glass panels, which gives a timeless yet stylish look.

Victorian-style conservatories, on the other hand, are elegant and spacious and feature a rounded bay frontage that allows for panoramic views of the garden.

Gothic and Victorian style conservatories often have a steeply pitched roof and ornate detailing. Choosing this style is an effective way to add an eye-catching design feature that suits period properties.

19. Decide The Right Position for a New Conservatory

grey brick conservatory with pitched roof covering

This dark grey conservatory by Vale Garden Houses, adds a contemporary finish. (Image credit: Vale Garden Houses)

Think about how and when a new conservatory will be used before deciding on its location. A south-east direction will make the most of morning rays while south-westerly orientations will capture sunset views, for instance. 

20. Embrace the Benefits a Conservatory can Offer 

conservatory with wellbeing as a focus

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Awareness of how our houses can affect our wellbeing has been steadily growing in recent years. From good home ventilation to spaces which spark a sense of relaxation, there are many ways in which home design can impact our lives beyond the obvious. 

Consider adding greenery to a conservatory, creating an oasis away from a home office, or introducing the theory of daylighting into the design.

Do You Need Planning Permission for a Conservatory?

Conservatories which are designed and built under the principle of Permitted Development (PD) rights do not require planning permission. Under PD, you can extend up to 4m on a rear extension and 4m in height. Under Prior Approval, the depth doubles. 

For side extensions, the conservatory will need to be less than half of the width of the original property, as long as it is adjoining an original house wall.

There are restrictions to these rules, which include if your home is listed (you'll need Listed Building Consent to make any changes to a listed building) or situated in a Conservation Area, or is a new build, where Permitted Development rights may be removed.

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.