Conservatory Ideas – Traditional or Modern?

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Posted 28/09/2023

Styles of conservatory

When it comes to choosing a conservatory, it is helpful to know more about the different materials used for conservatories as well as the various styles. It is important to consider the various styles as well as the available materials in order to choose the one that best compliments your home.

You can also use WhatPrice? to find what others have paid for their conservatories and also generate an estimated cost with our conservatory calculator.

The Styles of Conservatory

Choosing from among the styles of conservatory can be confusing. Often, the same styles of conservatory will be called by different names by different manufacturers. For example, one manufacturer may refer to a conservatory as a “Lean-To,” while another refers to the same style of conservatory as a “Home Extender.” Similarly, one manufacturer may refer to a conservatory style as “Victorian,” while another calls it “Edwardian” and another refers to it as “Georgian.”

To further confuse matters, “Victorian” style conservatories are available with varying numbers of bay sections. Most commonly, they are sold with three section bay fronts, but they can also be purchased with five section bay fronts. Even the terminology for these styles of conservatory are not consistent within the industry, because some manufacturers call three bay fronted conservatories “five side” conservatories and five bay fronted conservatories as “seven sided” conservatories.

Therefore, it is best to be as specific as possible when shopping for a conservatory. For instance, you should tell the manufacturer you are looking for a Victorian conservatory with a pitched roof and a bell end and bay front if that is what you are looking for. If you depend solely on the names the manufacturers provide for the various styles of conservatory, you may not be accurately comparing conservatories from one manufacturer to the next. If the manufacturer isn’t willing to discuss these specifics with you, then move on to one who will.

Conservatory Materials

Equally as important as the styles of conservatory is the materials used to make them. The materials used have an effect on the overall look of your conservatory, as well as on its function. There are three primary materials used to make conservatories: PVCu, hardwood, and aluminum.

PVCu is great at insulating the conservatory and also requires very little maintenance. It is easy to find cost less than your other material options. PVCu is most often found in white, but can also be purchased in cherry oak and mahogany woodgrain styles. PVCu is the most popular conservatory material, but it does not have a traditional look to compliment some styles of conservatory.

Hardwood is the best material for traditional styles of conservatory because it looks more authentic than other material choices, though it is also the most expensive. Hardwood does require some maintenance now and again, though high-quality paints and stains make maintenance minimal. Hardwood is available in stains and in painted finishes, so you can choose pretty much any color your like.

Aluminum is similar to PVCu, but it is more expensive and does not insulate the conservatory as well. Aluminum is often the material of choice for commercial conservatories or for styles of conservatory needing extra strength.

No matter what material or style of conservatory you think you would like, it is best to never purchase a conservatory directly from a brochure. If at all possible, visit a center and look at some erected conservatories before making a final decision. This will help you see what the various styles of conservatory look like when completed, which will give you a better idea of which one is best for you.

The Victorian Conservatory

According to surveys done amongst conservatory builders, suppliers and even homeowners themselves, it turns out that the Victorian conservatory is the most popular of all the traditional conservatory styles. It is the conservatory style that these people claim to be the most versatile and the most adaptive, and thereby the most suitable regardless of the overall style of the home it will be attached to.

The Victorian conservatory does deserve its immense popularity amongst homeowners. It is a very beautiful style, and it harkens back to a time in British history when the United Kingdom is one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, when there is so much to see and discover, and when there is a lot of romance in the air.

The Characteristics of the Victorian Conservatory

The Victorian conservatory takes its name from the Victorian era, that period in history that is marked by the long reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria that stretches from 1837 to 1901. There are so many architectural styles that emerged during that period, but all of them leaned towards decadence, excess and heavy ornamentation. Conservatories that were done in the Victorian style echo these two characteristics.

The most recognisable characteristic of the Victorian conservatory is its multi-faceted front. The front side of the conservatory in this design usually has three or five facets, but it is not surprising to find more facets to create a rounded conservatory that juts out from the house.

The roof of the Victorian conservatory can either be bell-shaped or rising in a high pitch and topped with an apex. The bell-shaped roof is more common with rounded conservatories. Whatever the style of the roof is, it usually has ornamental ridges at the apex that are shaped to look like a crown.

It is also typical for a Victorian conservatory to have a dwarf wall and ornamented glass panels. The ornamentation of the glass is often achieved through glasing, or through the addition of intricate details on the panels themselves.

In addition, the materials used in building an authentic Victorian conservatory are mostly hardwood with dark colours, detailed grains and polished veneers. All these details add to the ornamental quality of this kind of conservatory.

When to Build a Victorian Conservatory

Many homeowners find the cluttered and highly ornamental beauty of the Victorian conservatory to be very much appealing. You may even be one of those people who prefer this style of conservatory over others. However, it should be noted that this conservatory style cannot be made just for anyone.

For one, a Victorian conservatory would require a lot of space. Its faceted front alone would eat up a lot of space that you really would not be able to use. So, if you have a small property, building a conservatory in the Victorian style would be out of the question for you.

For another, a Victorian conservatory would be most suited to a house that is heavily ornamental on its own. In any house, the conservatory should serve as an addition to the house and should never steal the attention of anyone who views the house. If the house is designed along starkly simple lines, building a conservatory in the Victorian style would create many problems regarding the visual balance of the conservatory against the house itself.

Thus, as desired as it may be, the Victorian conservatory is not just for anyone. It really depends on the size of the property and the overall architecture of the house.

Furnishing a Victorian Conservatory

Despite the complications that can arise in building a Victorian conservatory, it can be fun decorating and furnishing it. The Victorian way of decorating home interiors is cluttered and over-the-top and totally fun.

You can start with choosing the furniture. A Victorian conservatory, especially the hardwood ones, would work well with heavy, wooden furniture and overstuffed upholstery. The chairs that you will be using for the conservatory, for instance, should be plump and should have ornate curves and carvings.

The colour palette that is typical of the Victorian style is made up of rich and dark hues. Ruby reds, deep forest greens, royal purples and navy blues are most suited to the Victorian style. For your Victorian conservatory, you can use these colours to paint the frames of your glass panels.

As for fixtures and other accessories, you can use anything that is made of brass, tin, pewter or cast iron. Accessories made from these materials are one of the high points of the Victorian style that should be present in your Victorian conservatory.

The key points of the Victorian style are richness and heavy ornamentation. You should keep these in mind when planning a Victorian conservatory.

The Edwardian Conservatory

A Break from the Wild Victorian

When you go shopping for a conservatory, one of the decisions you will have to make would concern the conservatory’s style and design. If you ask your builder or supplier for a conservatory with a traditional look, one of the choices that will be offered to you will be the Edwardian conservatory.

The Edwardian conservatory is one of the four main types of conservatories done in the traditional style. The name of the style refers to the Edwardian architectural period, named after King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He succeeded Queen Victoria to the throne and his reign lasted from 1901 to 1911. Despite the shortness of his reign, compared to that of his predecessor, King Edward VII ushered in a time of change when it comes to architectural style. One of this period’s lasting legacies is its take on the conservatory.

The Characteristics of the Edwardian Conservatory

As mentioned above, the Edwardian conservatory takes its name from the Edwardian architectural style. The focus of this style is lightness and airiness, with more subdued lines and ornamentation. This is a huge break from the Victorian architectural style, where architects and designers can run amok with the decoration of homes and conservatories.

In this light, the Edwardian conservatory is basically a conservatory with a square or rectangular shape. It aims to maximise the view of the exteriors of the house by putting in as little detail on the windows or the glass walls themselves. If there is detailing to the glass walls, it is usually limited to the dwarf wall, if the homeowner chooses to have it. A conservatory of this style also has a flat front.

These two characteristics of the Edwardian conservatory are the ones that mostly distinguish it from the Victorian conservatory. Where the Edwardian makes use of plain glass walls without panels as much as possible, Victorian conservatories typically have ornamental panels on the glass. Victorian conservatories also have three to five facets on its front, compared to the flat front of the Edwardian style.

However, just like the Victorian style, the Edwardian conservatory also has a pitched roof with an apex. On the apex of the roof is typically a set of ridges that look like a crown.

The Benefits of the Edwardian Conservatory

Now that you know what an Edwardian conservatory is and that you have an idea of the architecture of the Edwardian era, your next question may be: Why should I choose a conservatory in the Edwardian style.

The main benefit of the Edwardian conservatory is that it maximises the utilisation of available space. Because symmetry is highly valued with this style and because this type of conservatory has a square or rectangular shape, you can use all the space within the conservatory. There is no wasted space to speak of.

Not only does the Edwardian conservatory maximise available space, it also creates the illusion of more space. The pitched glass roof and the resulting vaulted ceiling let in more light. They also make the conservatory feel more airy. In addition, the lack of detailing on the glass walls and windows of the conservatory allow the occupant to see the exterior of the house more clearly, making the occupant feel like he or she is outdoors even though he or she is inside the conservatory.

Furnishing an Edwardian Conservatory for an Authentic Look

If you want to enhance the feel of having an Edwardian conservatory added to your home, you might as well go for the authentic Edwardian look through the furnishings. It is quite easy to recreate an Edwardian interior through the clever use of furniture and decor.

When decorating an Edwardian conservatory, you should always bear in mind that the emphasis of the Edwardian style is lightness, airiness and simple sophistication. Wicker furniture pieces are perfect for the conservatory done in the Edwardian style because of all these desired characteristics. It is interesting to note that the use of wicker furniture became extremely popular during the Edwardian period.

Colour is another design element that you should consider in decorating an Edwardian conservatory. Edwardian homeowners preferred pastel colours, especially the floral ones, because of their lightness. You can incorporate this element by putting in pastel conservatory blinds and light-coloured upholstery with floral patterns.

As for accessories, you can decorate your Edwardian conservatory with fancy glass figurines with floral carvings. You can also use silver knick-knacks that were so popular during that era.

Aluminium Conservatories

The Choice for Long-Lasting Durability

For more than 30 years now, many homeowners are selecting uPVC as their material of choice for their conservatories. There are two main reasons behind this. One is that uPVC conservatory kits are easy to work with. The other and more important reason is that uPVC is a lot cheaper. But the reign of the uPVC as the material of choice for conservatories has been questioned in recent years. That is because aluminium conservatories have been gaining quickly in appeal amongst homeowners, enough to rival the popularity of uPVC. It still remains to be seen, however, which one will be able to outdo each other in the contest for the most popular material for conservatories.

Aluminium conservatories, as made obvious by their name, are conservatories whose frames and supports are made completely of aluminium bars. Because aluminium is a type of metal that is sturdy but easy to work with, conservatories made from this metal are truly growing in appeal nowadays.

The Origins of Aluminium Conservatories

Aluminium conservatories are not a new concept. During the Victorian era, and even before that, farmers in the colder countries of Europe have thought of ways to preserve their plants from being damaged by frost. The solution they came up with was to house their plants in enclosures made of glass and held up by metal frames, often of aluminium. These enclosures became known as greenhouses and orangeries.

Eventually, the chance to be able to enjoy one’s garden despite unfavourable weather conditions has become very appealing amongst the upper class citisens of the Victorian era. It was a chance that only greenhouses and orangeries made possible. And thus, conservatories as we know of today, especially aluminium conservatories, came to be.

The Advantages of Aluminium Conservatories

As we have hinted above, aluminium conservatories are highly valued for their strength. Aluminium, after all, is a kind of metal and as thus is a lot stronger than uPVC or even timber or hardwood. The strength of aluminium makes it an idea material for building conservatories where strength and sturdiness are a huge factor for consideration.

Examples of such conservatories that require the strength and sturdiness of aluminium are those attached to commercial buildings where the safety of the public would be a great concern. Another such scenario where aluminium conservatories would be more suitable than uPVC or hardwood ones are where the property to which the conservatory will be attached is located in an area where the ground is not that stable. This could be because the ground is too soft or has a lot of clay heave.

Another big advantage that aluminium conservatories have over uPVC or hardwood conservatories is the fact that conservatories made of this metal are more durable. Despite being exposed greatly to the elements, aluminium can resist rusting, especially when it was well treated in the first place. It does not rot like timber, and it does not crumble or become cracked like uPVC.

Aluminium conservatories are also a lot more desirable for really large conservatories or conservatories that enclose an indoor swimming pool. Aluminium would be able to provide the structural support needed for large spaces, and it would be more resistant to the added moisture that an indoor pool would bring into the room.

Aluminium conservatories are also quite versatile. They can be moulded into any style of conservatory and they can fit into any house, regardless of its design or architecture.

The Disadvantages of Aluminium Conservatories

Inasmuch as aluminium conservatories do have a lot of things going for them to make them the ideal choice as a conservatory for the home, there are also a few disadvantages that may sway you from choosing aluminium for your conservatory.

One disadvantage of aluminium conservatories is controlling the temperature inside the conservatory which may become a problem later on. This will require you to install adequate heating inside your conservatory so that you will still be able to use the space during the autumn and winter months.

The other disadvantage of aluminium conservatories is that they are a lot more expensive than uPVC conservatories. You should embark on a conservatory project made of aluminium only if you have the money to invest on it.

But then again, if you are going to have a conservatory built on your property as a home improvement project, it is going to be an investment. You might as well consider aluminium conservatories for this investment to make the most of it.

Contemporary Conservatories

A Modern Twist to Traditional Space

Often, when you go shopping for a conservatory and you are limited to what seems to be only the traditional styles, it is not strange at all to feel that the usual styles are not suitable to your house or to your personal tastes. If that is how you feel about it, you should give contemporary conservatories a try.

As the name suggests, contemporary conservatories are conservatories done in modern and simplistic lines. It does not mean that just because they are not Victorian or Edwardian, they are not as beautiful. In fact, conservatories done in a contemporary design can sometimes be more beautiful and more appropriate, depending on the style of the house to which they will be attached.

Why Choose Contemporary Conservatories

In selecting the style for their conservatories, many homeowners choose the traditional styles. When we say “traditional” when talking about conservatories, we refer to what are known as the Victorian-style conservatory, the Edwardian-style conservatory, the lean-to style, the gabled style and their combinations. The reason why they pick traditional conservatories over contemporary conservatories probably lies mainly in the fact that the traditional ones are easier to do.

Unlike in contemporary conservatories, you do not have to think too much on the design and details of traditional conservatories anymore because there is already a reliable pattern to follow. All you need to do is to modify the pattern slightly so the measurements would fit your house. This is also why most DIY conservatory kits have the traditional patterns.

But even though conservatories in the traditional styles are popular amongst homeowners, contemporary conservatories do have their own following. The biggest reason for that is the desire for uniqueness. Most conservatories done along contemporary lines are bespoke. With bespoke, you are sure to have a unique conservatory whose appearance and design are all your own and are not a cookie-cutter version of some other style.

When to Opt for Contemporary Conservatories

Whether your preference lies with the traditional style of conservatories or with contemporary conservatories, what is important is that your choice of conservatory style should match with the overall architecture of your house. You should always remember that your conservatory should act as a natural part of the house and not just an extension that sticks out much like how a sore thumb does.

The traditional conservatories are typically more suited to older houses, especially the Georgian or Victorian ones. The detailing found in traditional-style conservatories usually echo the detailing on houses done in this architectural period. On the other hand, it goes without saying that newer houses would benefit more from contemporary conservatories. That is because houses done after the Victorian era are more symmetrical, and these would suit conservatories done in the modern style quite well.

But it is still possible to go for contemporary conservatories if the house is pre-Victorian or even pre-Regency. The minimalist lines of a contemporary or modern conservatory will still allow such an old house to speak for itself instead of being overshadowed by the conservatory.

Regardless of the period when your house was made, you can still select contemporary conservatories for your house if it is what you really want. However, you should expect yourself to have a tricky time of it, because it can be quite difficult to match older architecture with a conservatory that looks quite modern.

Design Considerations for Contemporary Conservatories

It was mentioned above that contemporary conservatories are, more often than not, bespoke conservatories. So, with conservatories done in contemporary lines, you can definitely implement your own design, be creative about it and find what is most suitable for you.

However, there are things that you should not forget when designing contemporary conservatories for your home. First of all is how the conservatory’s design would match your house. As it is mentioned above, the conservatory should be an echo of the architecture of your house and not the other way around.

Your second consideration for designing contemporary conservatories is the space to be occupied by the conservatory and the function that this space is supposed to fulfil. For instance, if the conservatory is going to be a lounging area, you can take advantage of the light and the view by enclosing the conservatory with full glass walls. If the conservatory is going to be a living area or a home office, you may want to opt for at least one concrete wall for your television set or computer to rest against. If it is going to be a kitchen, you may want just one wall to be made of glass.

Your third consideration for designing contemporary conservatories is its relationship to the interior and exterior of the house. A conservatory should connect with the inside of your house as well as with the outside. There are details that could foster this connectivity, such as sliding doors, matching floor tiles and others.

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