How to design your perfect conservatory
A conservatory is a large investment but when done correctly can add a huge amount to your home from a place to relax, extra storage space or even a home office with a beautiful view of the garden. In this guide we discuss the various points you need to consider to design your perfect conservatory from what conservatory is right for your home, the planning and design process, personalising your conservatory to make it perfect for your needs and finally furnishing it in a way you can be proud of.
What conservatory style is right for my home?
Conservatories for small homes
As a way to improve space, you’d think all conservatories would be suited to smaller homes. However, those with small gardens may need to give more thought to the style and shape of their conservatory than anticipated. Square or rectangular conservatories are perfect for homes with alcoves or protrusions caused by earlier extensions or changes to the layout of the property, as they fit seamlessly with the shape of the home to create a more even appearance. Adding a domed roof to a conservatory is ideal for those with small gardens as they enhance internal space without dominating the garden. The benefits of classic conservatories include an unrivalled diversity of designs with various shapes and decorative finishes available. There’s plenty of variation in the material the conservatory is constructed from and the number of windows and doors you can have fitted. As these are usually built by connecting multiple panels of equal dimension you are effectively able to design your own layout, making the most of the limited space you have.
Conservatories for period properties
Alongside the spatial restrictions placed on conservatories by our properties, the style of dwelling also affects which conservatory will be best suited. Period properties often pride themselves on containing original features which mean modern conservatory designs using uPVC may look out of place. Instead, tiled roof extensions are a great option providing you match the bricks and materials to those already in use to create a seamless link from the original parts of your home. Alternatively, an orangery offers a happy compromise between tradition and modernity; providing an authentic period feature with all the benefits of modern manufacturing. If you’re unsure of the difference between a conservatory and an orangery, you may find this blog post useful: Orangery vs. Conservatory: What is the difference?
Conservatories for modern homes
Modern houses benefit from being able to incorporate virtually any style of conservatory but glass extensions are always a popular favourite. These allow plenty of natural light to flood your property and see large single panes of glass used as the main basis for the extension. Supporting frames are usually made from brick, contrasting the modern uPVC and aluminium materials that make up the structure of the conservatory; giving plenty of versatility to the design. Other benefits include seamless integration of your garden and living space as well as the advantages of double glazing.
How to plan your perfect conservatory?
So you know you want a conservatory which is very exciting but it can also be daunting. Planning your conservatory is a great way to minimise the risks of something going wrong and be informed to make the right designs.
What to consider during the planning process?
The first thing to look at is the space you have available to build in. Do you envisage the construction taking up a large part of your garden or patio area? Even if the outdoor space appears quite awkward, you’ll be surprised how it can be embraced and transformed by the right type of extension, but it’s always good to have a strong idea of what you would like to make the most of the specialist’s advice.
Depending on what way your house faces, different types of styles and materials will become more suitable for your needs. As you are not an expert in the pros and cons of each material, this is where a consultant becomes invaluable.
Style and Design
As taste is subjective, this is where you are likely to have the most fun. It is important you are happy with how the finished construction will look because you’re the one who’s going to be using it for years to come. Therefore, try and decide what is most important to you before you meet the consultant. Do you want it to look like it's been there forever or do you want it to make a bold statement? Do you want more brickwork or glass? Do you prefer the convenience of uPVC of the natural look of wood? Having a good understanding of your preferences will give you a great starting point when discussing your vision.
Planning permission is required by UK law in order to allow you to build on, or change, the use of land or buildings. You should seek a company that will assess your specific conservatory design and its location against current planning policies and guidelines to establish if planning, listed building or conservation consent is required from your local council. Also, check that if permission is required, the company you're dealing with will prepare full plans and submit them to your local authority on your behalf. Some companies will offer this for free but some may want to charge.
Complying with Building Regulations is actually a separate matter to planning permission. The majority of conservatories in England and Wales are exempt from needing an application but there are circumstances where an application will be necessary. Your company will need to prepare full working drawings (including full structural and heat-loss calculations where necessary) and submit them for approval, notifying your local authority at all key stages of the installation.
Timescales and disruptions
Building conservatories, when done right, is a highly skilled job that requires a great deal of planning and consideration. It is more important to be well informed and to plan correctly than it is to build a construction that you might not have permission for, which would be a great waste of time, money and effort. Therefore, it is very important to get the advice of an expert consultant who should advise you of any issues right away and give you a more accurate indication of how long your construction should take to install. The important thing is that you buy from a company who agree to not only keep you informed of any updates but that they deal with all issues on your behalf as they arise.
How to personalise your conservatory?
Investing in a conservatory provides a great opportunity to introduce an entirely new element into your home. In many ways a conservatory is something of a blank slate; the way it turns out very much depends on what you want to get out of it. This is particularly true of Everest’s bespoke conservatories, which we tailor specifically to your vision.
Choosing an overall style is just the first stage in personalising your conservatory though. How you furnish and accessorise your new space depends largely on how you intend to use it. If you want to create an area for rest and relaxation, then some soft furnishings such as a chaise longue or a small dining table can create a blissful and comfortable space. Because of a large amount of available light, conservatories are ideal places for indoor plants as well. Many people fill their conservatories with plants to create a luxurious indoor garden, combining the best elements of the outdoors with the comfort and warmth of indoors, all year round!
Consider what kind of flooring you want in your conservatory too. Laminate flooring or tiling is stylish and easy to keep clean, a particular consideration if you have children who may be running in and out from the garden. If you wish to create a more traditional sitting room feel then carpeting may feel more appropriate.
At Everest, we offer a number of decorative finishing touches to our conservatory designs, from self-cleaning windows to ceiling fans and electric roof vents. Make sure you talk to our designers about how you can utilise our enormous range to create the individualised space you’ve always dreamed of.
How to furnish your conservatory?
Most proud owners of a conservatory have one chief aim when decorating this room: bringing the outside in. While this is a great way to enhance one of the best features of your new room you should strive to achieve balance in your design. This means continuing interior design themes from other areas of your home as well as incorporating elements of the great outdoors.
If you’re not a big plant lover or don’t want the extra effort of caring for potted flowers indoors then invest in floral printed fabrics for your soft furnishings instead. These are just as effective and make a quirky and kitsch design element.
Choose your conservatory furniture
The furniture you choose for your conservatory will depend on what you intend to use the room for. Those who want a social space may want to consider individual seats arranged in a circular pattern.
This is ideal for those with traditional, rustic tastes and makes the best use of space in dome-shaped conservatories.
Those with more modern preferences or rectangular conservatories should consider contrasting large sofas or futons for a more contemporary twist.
Protect your furnishings
Whilst furniture is important, it is soft furnishings which add homely touches to rooms in your home. With a conservatory, always match your choice of material to the purpose of the room – opting for resilient fabrics which will not discolour or damage easily. Remember that exposure to sunlight can bleach materials such as leather so you’ll need to take protective measures. This can be achieved by fitting blinds to the ceiling and windows and by using throws to cover your seating.
Make the most of the space
Designed to increase the amount of space in your home, conservatories should not be cluttered or overfilled. Make the best use of space in your conservatory by choosing conservatory furniture which works with the size and shape of the extension. This doesn’t have to be anything bulky – even a simple table can look effective whilst giving you a vital place to store loose items.
Look for other innovative storage solutions – such as wooden chests and sofa beds – which increase the functionality of the room and give you the benefit of uninterrupted floor space too. You should also make use of the natural light at your disposal to create the illusion of more room. Keep windows and doors as clear as possible and opt for light coloured pieces of furniture (pictured), which will not dominate the space or absorb too much light.
'How to design your perfect conservatory'