Conservatory Styles – The purpose of buildings that use glass is to make full use of the sun and the daylight. The conservatory makes a useful, weatherproof link between inside and outside, but it can also create a magic of its own. In this extension of the home you can enjoy the jungle atmosphere of tender plants with their bright colors and exotic scents. You can use it as a light and airy dining room or a quiet space in which to read or snooze. Cane or perforated metal chairs and tables will emphasize the tropical aspect, and plenty of tropical plants and climbers in containers will add to the ‘holiday’ feeling.
Most conservatories are attached to the house and great care should be taken to choose one whose style, proportions and materials are in keeping with the materials and the architecture of the house. This does not necessarily mean that all buildings should be of the same period. ln fact, a simple modern construction added to a traditional house can look very much in keeping. Getting the scale and proportion right in relation to the house are by far the most important things.
Many conservatories are made of treated softwood and will require frequent painting, which is tricky and time consuming. Cedar can be used unpainted and will weather to an attractive silver-grey. Aluminium is expensive but almost maintenance free, as is UPVC.
Georgian houses suit simple conservatories with arched windows and square panes, rather like the original orangeries popular in the 18th century for growing citrus fruits brought back from the Mediterranean. Victorian buildings, which are usually more eccentric and decorative, look good with a more flamboyant conservatory style, perhaps with an ornamental metal frame, pointed windows and other Gothic detailing.
Small cottages and houses suit small conservatories, which bridge the transition between house and garden without being too dominating. Simple designs with aluminium or UPVC frames and no frills with often look better than anything more sophisticated.
It is easy to be tempted by the advertisements for ‘period’ conservatories. Many are over-ornamented, however, with decorative details that are completely wrong for the house. With conservatories, as with so much in the garden, simplicity is usually more effective than too much detailing.