With modern conservatories, there are a wide variety of conservatory styles available, ranging from classic designs reminiscent of bygone eras, to ultra-contemporary designs.
One of the most important factors in choosing a conservatory design is ensuring that it complements the style and age of the property that it will be enhancing as well as reflecting your own tastes.
While planning permission is not required in many cases and the choice of materials is almost entirely down to personal preference, where conservation areas or listed buildings are concerned it is generally necessary to make use of a coloured timber-effect uPVC conservatory or a stained hardwood conservatory in order to ensure that the addition of the new structure complements the existing building and its surroundings as much as possible.
The most common conservatory designs are Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian, Lean To (or Mediterranean), Gable-Fronted , Orangery and Contemporary and we will cover these in more detail below.
It is worth bearing in mind that there is no accepted ‘standard’ for what constitutes Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian or Regency conservatory styles and there are a number of similarities between all of them due to this fairly open and varying interpretation within the conservatory designers and manufacturers. Of the 2 most popular styles, Victorian and Edwardian are possibly the most distinct styles, with Georgian and Regency sharing many characteristics.
True craftsman-designed and built conservatories from specialist suppliers may follow the styling that their name implies rather more closely, but mainstream products do not do this to any great degree.
By far the most common conservatory in terms of materials is the uPVC conservatory. These are available as professionally installed items or as DIY self-build conservatory kits. Timber conservatories (predominantly hardwood) and aluminium conservatories are also available.
Conservatories can be customised in a variety of ways to fit your exact requirements – from the basics such as size, colour and shape, to heating, conservatory blinds, furniture and external features such as finials.
Widely considered to be the most popular conservatory choice, Victorian-style conservatories will complement the majority of property types with their clean, strong lines and traditional, English design.
In the vast majority of cases the only design factor that differentiates a Victorian conservatory from an Edwardian conservatory is that the Victorian is generally bay-fronted or bell-ended – that is to say the glass is pitched from the top of the 3 sides of the bay front, up to the ridge of the roof, creating a distinctive look by creating a rounded appearance to the roof and front aspect. Additional detailing on the glazing such as motifs or leading is not uncommon.
Similar in many ways to the Victorian-style conservatory, Edwardian conservatories are every bit as adaptable to different styles of property yet lack the bay front - they are typically flat fronted, with a pitched roof running back to the ridge of the roof. Edwardian-style conservatories do benefit from slightly more efficient usage of space due to their rectangular shape and the lack of a bay-fronted aspect. Their slightly simpler design also reduces the cost a little in comparison to the Victorian conservatory designs.
Largely interchangeable with the Edwardian-style Conservatory design and often differentiated by little more than the addition of bars dividing, or appearing to divide the glazing units into smaller panes.
Again largely interchangeable with the Edwardian-style conservatory with minor detail changes.
Lean To / Mediterranean / Home Extender / Sun Lounge / Sun Room Conservatories
The ‘lean to’ takes its name from its design in that it essentially leans to the property that it is affixed to. This is by far the simplest and most effective style of conservatory because it can utilise 1, 2 or even 3 existing external walls of your property, cutting down dramatically on the quantity of materials required to construct it.
The Lean-to can in some cases simply comprise one side and a roof, and this straight and simple form makes for low-cost construction and ease of manufacture and installation. The Lean-to conservatory is often referred to as a Mediterranean conservatory, Home Extender, or even a Sun Room or Sun Lounge.
Gable, or Gable Fronted Conservatories
In its simplest form the Gable-Fronted conservatory is essentially a contemporary variant of the Edwardian conservatory. With a slightly more modern appearance, the gable-fronted conservatory brings the line of the ridge of the roof to the very front edge of the conservatory. This results in a greater amount of roof-space on the inside and a more ‘airy’ feel. This modern conservatory type is becoming increasingly popular.
Having essentially the same profile and simple lines as a standard glass greenhouse with a pitched roof – though considerably more attractive - they are a simple, clean, modern alternative to the Victorian and Edwardian conservatories which may look out of place on new-build houses and more recently constructed properties.
Orangeries / Orangery Conservatory
Traditionally, Orangeries were built for the cultivation of oranges and lemons and were constructed with stone uprights, a glass roof and brick or stone walls with large glazed areas.
Today, an Orangery is a slightly different proposition and while stone is still used in more faithful representations of a true Orangery, it is often replaced for the most part by timber. uPVC attempts at Orangeries are also in existence.
An Orangery is not a cheap prospect and would almost certainly be a bespoke design and installation requiring a good deal of specialist stonemasonry and joinery work in conjunction with bespoke glazing units. In terms of costs and construction, a true Orangery is a structure that can be viewed as perhaps being more along the lines of a glass-roofed house extension.
Bespoke Conservatories and Contemporary Conservatories
Ranging from simple bespoke glazed timber conservatories to state of the art ultra-cool all-glass constructions, bespoke conservatories can be designed to suit properties of any age by a skilled and sympathetic architect by subtly mirroring styling cues from the host building.
With traditional skill and craftsmanship married to innovations in glazing technologies, bonding technologies and innovative use of materials, the sky’s the limit with a contemporary conservatory design in terms of style and also potentially in terms of price.
With a number of specialist companies offering stunning and truly inspirational architect-designed bespoke solutions, this is the ultimate in making a genuinely unique addition to your property.
Choosing a conservatory - next stepsAfter having perused our comprehensive conservatories section, it is likely that you will want to start evaluating conservatory prices and the various styles available so you can make a more considered decision.
The best way to get started is to select around 3 different FENSA registered specialists and arrange for them to come to your home and show you the range available, and advise you on how best to make use of the space in which you are planning to erect your conservatory – they may be able to offer size or layout options that you hadn’t even considered as well as specific conservatory planning permission or building regs information relevant to your particular project.
One of the more established names, Apropos, have been specialising in designing and building conservatories for over 50 years and you can request a free Apropos brochure by clicking here.
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