Orangery vs Conservatory: Understanding the Key Differences


Imagine a home upgrade that marries elegance and functionality? Dive into the world of orangeries and conservatories, two stylish options that can transform any home. While both offer charm and utility, they cater differently to homeowners’ needs. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast, a lover of traditional architecture, or simply someone looking to add a unique touch to your living space, understanding the key differences between these two structures is essential.

How do you decide between the timeless allure of an orangery and the transparent beauty of a conservatory for your next home enhancement?

Key Takeaways

  • Orangeries are characterised by solid structures with large windows and often include a lantern roof
  • Conservatories have lightweight frames with extensive glass coverage, perfect for enjoying garden views
  • Insulation capabilities significantly differ between the two, with orangeries generally offering better temperature regulation
  • Choosing between an orangery and a conservatory is largely about desired style, functionality, and integration with the home
  • Both options enhance property value and provide versatile living spaces

What is an Orangery?

An orangery, with its solid brick base and sweeping glass windows, is a splendid architectural feature that traces back to the Renaissance period. Originally constructed to house and nurture citrus trees and exotic plants in colder climates, these structures blend robustness with elegance.

Homeowners appreciate orangeries for their timeless appearance and sturdy design. Featuring a lantern roof, these rooms allow natural sunlight to spill in while maintaining excellent insulation—a perfect combination for those wishing to create a cosy yet sunlit area within their homes. This balance makes orangeries ideal for housing delicate plants, transforming them into luxurious garden rooms that boast climate control.

These spaces also serve as versatile living areas that blend seamlessly with the rest of the home. Whether you’re looking to create a refined lounge, a dining area, or a multifunctional space for entertaining guests, an orangery offers a multitude of possibilities. The use of large glass panels not only provides an aesthetic connection to the outdoors but also contributes to a bright and inviting atmosphere.

An Essential for Garden Enthusiasts

Garden enthusiasts particularly cherish orangeries for their ability to maintain a conducive environment for growing a variety of plants, from citrus trees and exotic plants to fruits like grapefruits and oranges. The controlled climate ensures that these plants thrive, adding both beauty and utility to the home.

Integration and Versatility

Orangeries are known for their capacity to integrate with the existing architecture of a property seamlessly. By extending your living space with an orangery, you get a room that feels both distinctive and integral to your home’s overall layout.

What is a Conservatory?

A conservatory, on the other hand, is a lightweight addition designed predominantly from glass, offering an almost uninterrupted view of your garden. Their extensive glass coverage brings the outside in, creating a lush oasis within the comfort of your home.

Homeowners love conservatories for their openness and transparency, which adds a sense of space and light to any property. These structures usually attach directly to the house, acting as a serene extension where you can relax and enjoy the changing seasons from the comfort of an armchair.

An Ideal Spot for Sun-loving Plants

For gardening aficionados, conservatories are the perfect environment for cultivating plants that demand significant sunlight. Whether you’re nurturing a collection of tropical plants or simply keeping your favourite flowers in bloom year-round, a conservatory offers an excellent balance of light and temperature.

Additional Living Space

Conservatories aren’t just for plants. They also serve as an additional living space that maximises natural light and creates a fluid connection between indoor and outdoor environments. This makes them suitable for various uses: reading rooms, hobby spaces, casual dining areas, or even a playroom for children.

Orangeries vs Conservatories: Key Differences

When choosing between an orangery and a conservatory, the distinctions in structure and functionality are key points to consider.

Structure and Materials

Orangeries generally boast more solid structures than conservatories. Often made from a combination of brickwork and glass, orangeries provide a robust and insulated extension. In contrast, conservatories favour lightweight frames, typically constructed from aluminium or PVC, which allows for more extensive glass coverage.

Insulation and Temperature Regulation

A significant difference lies in insulation. Orangeries offer better temperature regulation due to their solid walls and smaller glass areas, making them cozy throughout the year. Conservatories, with their large glass panels, can sometimes run the risk of becoming too hot in summer and too cold in winter, although modern designs with improved glazing and ventilation can mitigate these issues.

Design and Aesthetic

Design preferences play a critical role. Conservatories usually have pitched roofs, creating an airy, light-filled environment. Orangeries, on the other hand, often feature a flat roof with a central roof lantern, which adds a touch of sophistication while providing ample natural light.

Functionality and Usage

Functionality also sets these two structures apart. If you’re looking for a year-round room that blends seamlessly with your home’s architecture, an orangery might be the right choice. However, if you desire a more transparent extension that brings you closer to nature, a conservatory would serve that purpose beautifully.

Purpose and Functionality of Orangeries

Adding an orangery to your home serves multiple purposes, enhancing both your living space and your lifestyle.

A Year-round Living Space

Homeowners often use orangeries as elegant extensions for dining, lounging, or entertaining. The robust design of an orangery makes it a perfect all-year-round living space, well-insulated for comfort regardless of the season.

Aesthetic Enhancement

Whether your home’s architecture leans towards traditional or modern styles, an orangery can seamlessly blend in, adding both value and charm. Classic orangery designs with brick walls and intricate roof lanterns enhance the aesthetic appeal, making your house stand out with a touch of sophistication.

Versatile Usage Options

The versatility of orangeries is another significant benefit. They can be turned into luxurious indoor-outdoor spaces that connect your garden to the rest of your home. Some homeowners choose to use their orangeries as home offices, art studios, or even greenhouses, making the most of the abundant natural light and controlled climate.

Purpose and Functionality of Conservatories

Conservatories also bring numerous benefits, creating sun-drenched spaces that enhance both your lifestyle and your home’s functionality.

A Sunlit Space for Relaxation

Conservatories serve as ideal spots for reading, relaxation, or family gatherings. With large windows that allow plenty of natural light, they create a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can unwind and enjoy the beauty of your garden from within.

Ideal for Gardening Enthusiasts

Gardening enthusiasts love conservatories for their excellent light conditions, making them perfect for growing sun-loving plants. Whether you’re cultivating a collection of orchids, ferns, or succulents, a conservatory offers the ideal environment for your gardening interests.

Integration with the Home

A well-designed conservatory adds a unique aesthetic element to your home, providing a serene transition from indoor to outdoor living. They often function as playrooms, hobby spaces, or casual dining areas, giving you additional room to accommodate your family’s needs.

Extended Living Space

Modern conservatories often include features like sliding or bi-fold doors, connecting seamlessly with outdoor areas and expanding your living space in a way that feels fully integrated with your garden.

Design and Structure Variations of Orangeries

Orangeries come in a variety of designs and structures, each with its uniqueness and charm.

Classic and Modern Designs

Classic orangeries typically feature robust brickwork, large windows, and intricate roof lanterns. These elements bring a timeless look that suits both traditional and contemporary homes. Modern designs, however, integrate sleek lines and minimalist elements while retaining the solid structure, creating a perfect blend of old and new.

Customisation Options

Homeowners have the flexibility to customise orangery layouts, including open-plan or segmented room designs. This adaptability allows orangeries to cater to specific requirements, whether you’re looking for a cosy sitting area, a spacious dining room, or a multifunctional entertainment space.

Architectural Highlights

Orangeries often include architectural highlights like sturdy brick pillars, decorative cornices, and well-crafted roof lanterns, which make them standouts among home extensions. These features not only enhance aesthetic appeal but also add structural integrity.

Design and Structure Variations of Conservatories

Contrary to orangeries, conservatories showcase a different set of design and structural variations.

Lightweight Frames with Extensive Glass

Conservatories are usually built with lightweight frames—often aluminium or PVC—allowing for maximum glass coverage. This makes them the go-to choice for homeowners looking to bring in as much natural light as possible.

Traditional and Modern Styles

Victorian and Edwardian conservatories offer traditional styles with ornate detailing, while modern conservatories lean towards cleaner lines and minimalist designs. Lean-to conservatories provide a contemporary and space-efficient option, ideal for homes with limited space.

Versatility in Design

P-shaped designs combine multiple areas into one versatile conservatory space, offering more flexibility in how the area is used. Large sliding or bi-fold doors are common in modern conservatories, making them easily accessible and enhancing the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Planning Permission for Orangeries and Conservatories

Before adding an orangery or conservatory, it’s crucial to understand the planning permission requirements.

Size and Impact

Planning permission generally depends on the size and impact of the construction on the existing property. Larger orangeries often require approval, especially if they significantly alter the home’s outward appearance or exceed certain size limits set by local authorities.

Permitted Development Rights

Conversely, many conservatories fall under permitted development rights, simplifying the approval process. However, these rights vary by locality, so it’s essential to consult with your local planning authority to determine the specific requirements for your project.

Professional Guidance

Seeking professional advice from architects and builders can help you navigate the planning permission process smoothly. These experts can ensure your project complies with all building regulations, helping you avoid potential issues down the line.

Benefits of Adding an Orangery or Conservatory to Your Home

Both orangeries and conservatories come with a host of benefits that can significantly enhance your home.

Enhanced Living Spaces

Firstly, orangeries and conservatories enhance living spaces, adding both aesthetic appeal and functional versatility. They provide homeowners with special areas for relaxation, entertainment, and other activities, creating a more enjoyable living environment.

Increased Property Value

Secondly, these stylish extensions often lead to a noticeable increase in property value. Homes with orangeries or conservatories tend to attract more interest from potential buyers, making them a wise investment.

Customisation and Individual Needs

Custom features in orangeries and conservatories cater to individual needs and preferences. Whether you want energy-efficient designs, seamless integration with outdoor areas, or specific layout options, both types of extensions offer ample customisation possibilities.

Year-round Comfort

Energy-efficient designs using modern materials ensure that these spaces remain comfortable throughout the year, regardless of external weather conditions.


Choosing between an orangery and a conservatory depends on your specific needs and aesthetic preferences. Orangeries offer a blend of classic design and robust structure, perfect for year-round use and housing delicate plants. Conservatories provide a brighter and more open space, ideal for sun-loving plants and creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor areas. Both options significantly enhance your living space and property value.

So, which one will you choose to elevate your home: the solid elegance of an orangery or the transparent beauty of a conservatory?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between orangery and conservatory?

Why is it called an orangery?

Orangeries were originally built in the 17th century to protect citrus trees from the cold British weather. The name “orangery” stems from the fact that these structures were used to cultivate and grow oranges and other exotic fruits.

What is a modern orangery?

A modern orangery combines the traditional features of a brick-built base and a glazed lantern roof with contemporary design elements, such as slimline frames and energy-efficient glass, creating a versatile living space that can be used year-round.

What is the difference between an orangery and a sunroom?

An orangery typically has more brickwork and a solid roof structure compared to a sunroom, which is usually fully glazed with a glass roof. Orangeries also tend to have more ornate details and a more substantial feel, while sunrooms are often simpler in design and construction.