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Designing the perfect conservatory

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe


A conservatory is every garden enthusiast’s fantasy home improvement, providing a space that’s neither indoors nor outdoors. While in your conservatory, you’re just a step away from all the home comforts that you could ever need and the peace and solitude of your perfect garden. Surrounded by glass on all sides, you’ll be able to relax among your flowers whatever the weather. Although conservatories were traditionally used to house all manner of plants, these days the space is as much about homeliness as it is the great outdoors. A conservatory is a room for all weathers and every occasion, and will no doubt complement your lifestyle accordingly.

Tips for creating your perfect conservatory

Before you go any further, consider how your conservatory will be used. Are you keen to create a garden room that will house all manner of plants and flowers, or do you want to design an extension for your family home? Will you dine in your conservatory or use it for toy storage? What kind of plants will you house in here? Your intentions will go a long way towards shaping the space and helping you to finalise some of those trickier interior design decisions. Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to go out and get it…


Aside from choosing the size and shape of your new space, the kind of flooring that you lay is likely to be the most important decision you make regarding your conservatory. Will it be wooden or easily cleaned laminate? Will you opt for tiles or soft, smooth linoleum? What styles and colours will suit your theme best? It’s important to consider the kinds of activities that you’ll be getting up to in your new conservatory before setting your heart on a certain kind of flooring; what suits an entertaining couple may not be right for a family with young children. A heated floor is a luxury that will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors for a little longer each year. Rugs will add home comforts to a predominantly outdoorsy space.

Making use of natural light

Made predominantly from glass, conservatories are perfect for sun worshippers and those who like to spend their time surrounded by natural light; whichever way you look, you’ll be immersed in the wonders of your garden. While the enjoyment of streaming natural light is one of the best reasons to get a conservatory, there will probably come a time when you’d like a little more control over its brightness. Full-height shutters, and wooden shutters in all manner of shapes and sizes, are the perfect accompaniment to any conservatory, allowing you to manage the flow of light in and out of your conservatory. During the height of summer, shutters can be adjusted to add a little shade, and to encourage a breeze to circulate. In the winter, they will add an extra layer of warmth that will heat your home.

Heating and cooling

Shutters can be a fantastic way to control the temperature in your new conservatory; during the summer months, they will entice a breeze through your open windows, while trapping additional heat in the cool of winter. You may also want to consider the kind of glass that you’ll be using. Glass coating is incredibly popular and will protect your furniture and accessories from fading. Such a coating is also a great way to maintain a steady temperature. Besides glass, under-floor heating, small radiators, and heating systems can be used to warm your conservatory, and a ceiling fan and air-conditioning unit can be used to keep things cool.

Furniture and accessories

The furniture that you choose to fill your conservatory will depend upon the uses that you have in mind for this new space. A toy or storeroom will need plenty of clever storage options, while a study is going to require a desk and chair, with bookcases for good measure. Perhaps you’ll use this new room as a gym, and equip it with a treadmill or cross trainer. Choose furniture that’s going to complement your lifestyle. Your theme is essential when it comes to decoration and accessioning. Only you know whether a vintage theme, Mediterranean feel or contemporary design is going to work best.

These days, conservatories can be used for so much more than plants. On warm, summer days, your conservatory is a gateway to the great outdoors, perhaps housing the salad bar that will accompany your barbecue, or the wine bar from which your friends will top up. On those cooler, autumnal days, your new conservatory will be the perfect place for watching raindrops racing one another. Whether you use your new conservatory as a playroom, a study or somewhere to entertain, that new space will allow you to surround yourself with the elements. Don’t forget to take a little time to enjoy it as you intended.

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