Choosing the Perfect Furniture for Your Conservatory

Conservatories are by their very definition half-and-half spaces. They are indoors but they are designed to ‘feel’ like the outdoors, in terms of natural sunlight, anyway. They are warm, they are bright and they give you open views of the outside world.

There is a best-of-both quality to a conservatory. On a day or evening when the sun is bright but there is still a chill in the air, you can enjoy the sunshine in a conservatory in warmth and comfort. You can happily sit in your conservatory at times of the year where you would have to wrap up well to even consider sitting outside.

Like the rest of your home, a conservatory protects you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry. But unlike other parts of your house, there is nothing dark and dingy about a conservatory.  You can still get your fill of natural UV light and vitamin D.

But how should you furnish your conservatory? Should you treat it as an extension of your home and make sure it matches the rest of your interior decor? Or, if you use it as a substitute for sitting outdoors, should you pick similar furniture to what you would have in your garden?

At Jo Alexander, we believe there is a simple answer – go for both approaches. We’re strong believers that there is more crossover between indoor and outdoor furniture than traditional categories allow. Quality furniture made with an eye for simple, practical style works equally well in and out.

Your conservatory is the perfect place to test this theory out. It’s where home furniture meets the outdoors. As a crossover space, it makes sense that the furniture you choose for it should be of a kind that can comfortably sit both inside your home and in your garden.

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Here are our top tips for choosing the right pieces for your conservatory.

Decide how you want to use your conservatory

How you want to spend most of your time in your conservatory will have a big say in the type of furniture you choose for it. Do you want it to be an extra seating area for sitting and relaxing? If so, you’ll want to focus mainly on comfortable chairs and sofas. Or would you rather use it as a dining area? If so, you will of course need a dining table and chairs. Some people love the idea of working in the sunlight and turn it into a home office.

Consider the amount of space available

Conservatories are often not very large, which is a big factor in choosing furniture. A full three-piece suite like you have in your lounge or a full-size dining table might just about fit, but will leave the room feeling cluttered and cramped. And you can’t spread things out the way you can in your garden.

For both of these reasons, you are best opting for compact furniture for your conservatory, and going for a ‘less is more’ approach in terms of how much you put in there. If it’s a rarity for the whole family to sit in there at once, a couple of good comfy chairs will probably meet your needs. If you want a table, round makes more efficient use of space in smaller rooms.

Flexible furniture gives you more value

One important question to ask yourself is this – do you really need furniture that is just for your conservatory? What if you could share furniture around between your garden and conservatory, for example, moving it indoors and out to suit the weather? You’d get more use out of it that way, and therefore more value from your investment.

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Flexible furniture is the kind you can move around easily, so lightweight and not too large. It also influences the type of material you choose (see below). Another tip is to choose fold-away tables and chairs that are easy to store and move. That also gives you more options for what you can use your conservatory for.

Material matters

As mentioned above, lightweight furniture for your conservatory gives you added flexibility to move things around between spaces. That makes wicker and rattan furniture an obvious choice for a conservatory. They have other benefits, too.

Conservatories are warm, dry spaces, especially through the summer months. Natural sunlight is intensified through the glass. There’s not the moisture you get outdoors from rain and dew. Wooden furniture left in a conservatory can be prone to drying out and cracking unless it is treated regularly (although there are exceptions like teak which don’t dry out because they have such a high oil content). Another risk is bleaching from the sunlight, which affects fabric in particular.

Synthetic rattan and similar materials are made from specialist plastics like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which are strong, lightweight and will neither dry out in warm conditions or fade in sunlight.

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