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How to feel at home in an orangery


Words by Bertie Russell

Transforming spaces

Orangeries and conservatories are glazed extensions to a main house. Traditionally, an orangery would have a solid roof, perhaps with a dwarf wall or dividing columns. On the other hand, a conservatory would have a fully glazed roof, making for a brighter but less insulated space. Either way, they can transform a property by filling the downstairs rooms with light and bringing the outdoors inside.

An orangery or a conservatory might be used as a kitchen, a dining room, or a reception room – all of which will influence the design. However, here are five tips for maximising the potential of this space.

Take care of the temperature

The more glass in your extension, the more likely it will be cold in winter and warm in summer. Double or even triple glazing can offset this effect, but the interior also plays an important part. If you’re worried about the cold, underfloor heating and a carpet could make the space more snug. Alternatively, if summer heat is the problem, blinds and air conditioning can ensure the temperature stays cool.

Plant lots of plants

Orangeries and conservatories are designed to be air tight, which can turn them into humid spaces. This can be avoided with a ventilation system, or else by opening a window. However, a more attractive solution is decorating the space with plants that absorb moisture from the air. Good examples include spider plants, peace lilies, windmill palms and Boston ferns.

Soften the furnishings

The more hard surfaces in a room, the louder the acoustics. This means that a dropped phone or raised voice will create an echoing noise. Conservatories and orangeries can be particularly noisy if they have tiled floors and windows without curtains. To dampen these sounds, it’s a good idea to fill the space with soft furnishings. Consider lining the floor with rugs and making sure the sofas and chairs are covered with cushions.

Deliberate decoration

When thinking about how to decorate an orangery or conservatory, there are a few principles to bear in mind. First, this room will likely be one of the lightest in the house, meaning neutral colour schemes are possible as there’s less need for bold shades. Second, given the closeness to the garden, consider fabrics that create a sense of connection, either through floral patterns or a natural palette. Third, furniture made from organic materials will also link to the outdoors, which is why rattan and cane chairs are often popular.

Look after the glass

Much of the pleasure of an orangery or a conservatory comes from being near to nature while staying inside. Therefore, it’s important to have a beautiful garden or view for the extension to enjoy. It’s also important that the glazing is kept clean to maximise the sense of light and space. Put simply, the clearer the glass, the closer the outdoors.


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