Orangery, Conservatory or Glass Extension - what is the difference?

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Long gone are the days when an orangery was simply somewhere to grow your oh-so-exotic lemons. In today’s bid to extend our homes and create a connectedness with our gardens, orangeries are fast becoming a popular alternative to the fantastically modern glass extension or the standard conservatory.

Differences between a Conservatory and Orangery

So, how can we tell our conservatories from our orangeries? They may seem, at first, to be similar but there is a difference in the structure of these extensions. An orangery usually forms an integral part of the building, giving it a look of permanence that you may not achieve with the typical glazed-PVC conservatory frames. Orangeries being an integral part of the building also means that they are usually a little more expensive but, importantly, they are more likely to add value to your home than a standard out the box lean to conservatories, making them a great option if you’re after a bit of space without the cost of moving.

Differences in planning permission

Most conservatories won’t require you to apply for planning permission but, as orangaries are usually a permanent part of the building, they do not tend to be separated from the main house by a door. Without the option of closing off your orangery from the rest of the building, you may find that you do, in fact, require planning permission so it is worth thinking this through in the early stages of your project.

Differences in materials and build

Orangaries also tend to be made up of less glass than the average conservatory, often having more brick work or painted timber surrounding the glass panels. Because of this, orangeries can offer a greater amount of privacy and might be a good option for extensions into overlooked gardens or study areas where you need to keep a little shade.

The average conservatory, of course, makes use of brick work too but usually only in the form of a low, or ‘dwarf’, wall on which to base its glass elevations. Typically, a conservatory will allow you more light but both conservatory and orangery roofs are usually made of glass to let some of that lovely light in. Whilst conservatories have favoured the flat, angled roof of the lean-to conservatory, orangeries usually boast a flat perimeter and a more striking glazed lantern in its centre, typically with hipped ends, giving real character to your extension.

Differences in design

Another difference is in the general design of orangeries. Whereas glass extensions are often a modern alternative, ranging from glass panels to entire frameless glass boxes, orangeries tend to be more formal and, occasionally, classical in design, sometimes even using pilasters or columns in a nod to the traditional orangeries of the eighteenth century, which can be great for period properties.

Having said this, your orangery needn’t be of the neoclassical variety; modern designs can give a property real contemporary elegance to suit newer buildings. It is best of course to think very carefully about whether your property is suited to a bespoke conservatory, glass extension or an orangery, and to make sure the extension is in keeping with the design of your property, especially if you are hoping to increase the value of your home.

Often, orangeries can simply provide a great option for a bit of extra, sunny space. They are particularly great for kitchen extensions where you need more interior wall space for kitchen units and for properties overlooked by other houses or roads. Overall, the orangery is not to be overlooked when you’re in need of a little usable living space, a lot of light and perhaps even a bit of modern-looking luxury.