What’s the difference between a conservatory and an orangery?
Extensions of any kind can transform the way you live and add value to your property should you come to sell it in the future. If you’re considering adding a new space to your home, you may be currently weighing up the pros and cons of conservatories and orangeries – or perhaps wondering what the difference between them is in the first place!
Don’t worry - you’re not alone. This is one of the most common questions we’re asked by our customers, and as trusted and manufacturers and installers of both for over 50 years, we’re well placed to provide the answers.
Though they can both be enjoyed in much the same ways and even built in similar styles, there are some distinctions to be aware of. To help you with your research, below we’ve broken down what each one is and what the key differences are, as well as answering common questions around warmth, value and planning permission.
What is an orangery?
There isn’t a universally accepted definition and styles can vary, but an orangery is generally known as a home extension that is built using more brickwork than a classic glazed conservatory. With a more solid structure at the base, roof and throughout, you can think of an orangery as being halfway between a conservatory and a small single-storey extension.
If you think an orangery sounds like a quaint term taken from a period drama, you’re not actually far off. If you were wealthy and part of the fashionable elite between the 17th and 19th centuries, there’s a good chance that you would have an orangery within the grounds of your home. Similar to a greenhouse, the extension was used for growing citrus trees in an environment that protected them from frosty weather to survive the winter months. Over time as citrus fruits became more readily available for a cheaper fee, an orangery was used as a luxury nurturing ground for woody plants, shrubs and exotic plants.
The concept of an orangery was born in Italy and architecturally adapted in Holland, and soon became viewed as a status symbol among the wealthy.
What is a conservatory?
In contrast, conservatories are primarily glass structures with pitched glazed rooves that are designed to bring as much light in as possible.
While conservatories today are more commonly known than orangeries, it is generally accepted that conservatories were created as a by-product of their brick-based cousin – the differentiation being that they were more for the protection of shrubs and herb plants than fruit. A glass ceiling and wall allowed an optimum amount of light into the structure so the plants could grow more rapidly.
Another slight differentiation is that conservatories tend to be built as an attachment onto the home, whereas an orangery could be its own structure elsewhere within a garden. This contributed to the change in viewpoint that the space didn’t have to be used solely for plantation but could offer an extension to the home – bringing us to where we are today.
What’s the difference between an orangery and a conservatory?
So how do the orangeries and conservatories of today compare? Everest’s head of design Jill McLintock says: “While their uses have merged and both styles are typically now built as an extension to the home, there are still some key differences in terms of construction, materials, design and cost.”
The main differences in construction are the base and roof. Both styles are usually built on a solid concrete foundation, with orangeries made up of a brick base and flat perimeter roof with a central glass lantern, while most conservatories have floor-to-roof frames and pitched glazed roofs.
Glazed windows are used in both styles to maximise energy efficiency, with larger panels used in conservatories to provide a clearer view of the outdoors. Orangeries on the other hand are often more imposing structures and help to add a touch of grandeur to a property.
It’s common for conservatories to use patio doors, with orangeries often using bi-fold door systems. However, modern options in both can be easily customised to achieve the style and functionality you’re looking for.
Conservatories are available in a variety of materials including uPVC, aluminium and timber, whereas orangeries tend to be made from timber – although uPVC and aluminium orangeries are also available.
With a higher proportion of glazed surfaces, conservatories let in lots of natural light, making them ideal if you want to spend sunny afternoons looking out over your garden. This means that many are used primarily as sitting rooms, featuring comfy seating, coffee tables and other relaxing items such as books and music systems.
Closer to a traditional extension of the home and with less glass, orangeries can offer more privacy and can be adapted for use as dining rooms or kitchens as well as sitting rooms or home offices. With more available wall space, both interior and exterior design can more closely match that of the rest of the home.
Ultimately, however, there are no rules, and you can create your own look and feel whichever style you go for.
How much does an orangery or conservatory cost? Both come in many different shapes, styles and sizes, with prices ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 and more depending on the features you’re looking for and the budget you have available. Orangeries can come in slightly more expensive due to the extra material and construction costs involved, though again this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
You’ll need to think about what you want to use the space for first, before then factoring in size, design, materials, glazing quality and electrics and heating. Every project is different, and you’re unlikely to find an accurate price until after design and specification.
You can book an appointment with one of our friendly experts to discuss your options in person and get a free quote for the manufacture and installation of your conservatory or orangery.
Is an orangery warmer than a conservatory?
As conservatories typically consist of more glass, it’s common for them to be marginally warmer than orangeries on a sunny day and a little colder in winter.
Our orangeries and conservatories both use glazing and modern glass technologies to keep the space cool in summer and warm in winter. The base and walls are also fully insulated to make them usable all year round.
Does a conservatory or orangery add value to a property?
Both options can add a significant amount of value to your property when completed to a high standard. Estimates vary between 5% and as high as 12% for conservatories depending on the property type and location, while orangeries can add almost as much as a traditional extension depending on the size and standard of finish.
If you know the desired size of your orangery you can use the Office for National Statistic’s tool to estimate how much value an extension can add in your local area based on property prices per square metre in England and Wales.
It’s worth remembering that gardens are a very desirable feature of a property, so if you are planning to sell at some point in the future, try to make the most of the extra indoor space without taking too much away from your outdoor area.
If adding value to your property is one of your key motivations for adding a conservatory or orangery, you could contact local estate agents to ask for a realistic range of how much added value you can expect based on similar properties in your area.
Do you need planning permission for an orangery or conservatory?
In most cases, the answer is no. Planning permission is required by UK law to build on or change the use of land or buildings, but conservatories and orangeries can be an exception as long as:
- The structure does not cover more than half your garden
- The roof ridge or top point is no higher than the eaves of your property’s roof
- There’s a maximum height of 4 metres, or 3 metres high if within 2 metres of boundary
- Side extensions must not extend beyond half the width of the house
Planning permission regulations are regularly updated, and you can find more information on the Government’s Planning Portal.
Everest’s head of design, Jill McLintock advises: “Even if you’ve done your research and you don’t think you’ll need it, it’s worth getting the go-ahead before you build. Getting retrospective planning permission is an offence and failing to check could leave you having to make expensive amendments yourself or even see your structure taken down.”
At Everest, we take care of planning permission on your behalf to save you time and hassle and give you added peace of mind that your extension is legally compliant.
Get a free quote
Now that you know a little more about the differences between orangeries and conservatories, you might be ready to take your research to the next stage.
Our conservatories and orangeries are bespoke and built to last, feature multi-point locking and many other ultra-secure features as standard, and look stunning whether viewed from inside or out.
Why not book a free appointment to talk to one of our experts and discuss what’s right for you?
'What’s the difference between a conservatory and an orangery?'