Is the conservatory dead?

There was a time when having a conservatory added to the back of your home was the very first major home improvement scheme that we all considered. They were sold door-to-door, didn’t require planning permission and offered the chance to add value and a sun trap to your home. But the humble conservatory has seemingly grown out of favour with younger homeowners, as permitted development offered us more in the way of chances to extend our homes and changing work patterns meant that many went for a home office instead.

Depending on your view point, this is either a triumph or a tragedy. Conservatories did have a reputation for outmoded design and overcharging. But it’s time for us to re-evaluate the humble conservatory and think once again about what it can add to our homes.

modern conservatory

Image source: Dilanf via Wikimedia Commons

The first thing to tackle is the conservatory’s reputation as a space. It has become largely regarded as a space for the elderly to grow older and perhaps a space for potting our plants. Yet these indoor-outdoor spaces have lost their reputation for being our link to the garden at a time where outdoor gas heaters and chimineas mean we can spend longer outdoors and pro-long the eating outside season. Still, a conservatory need not just be a narrow strip of uPVC that you pass through or that is too hot or too cold to use, depending on the season. A well-planned conservatory can be that extra space you need and offer a lot of what you may think you would get with a different kind of space. What is more, it will also offer a better return on investment than any other home improvement you may commonly consider.

The secret to getting the conservatory that you want and which your home needs is all in the planning and shopping around. You need not get something that resembles a Victorian pagoda or cheap greenhouse. In fact you can now buy a modern conservatory that will set off your modern home or one that will give a modern boost to a period home without looking out of place. As these are high-value jobs for conservatory salespeople and tradespeople alike you should not have too much trouble finding someone who is willing to come around and give advice, as well as taking your desires into consideration.

glass conservatory

Image source: Stu’s Images via Wikimedia Commons

Before you speak to anyone, first think about what you want the conservatory for and don’t be afraid to stick with that. If you want to pot plants and smoke a pipe out there then tell the conservatory company that. Similarly, if you want extra space to watch TV or for the kids to do homework then make sure that that is taken into consideration. Remember that blinds, heating and a water supply will all cost extra, so decide what you really need in there and how the room will be used.

Think about positioning too. If you have space then the conservatory could run up the side of the house or along the back. Do you want to trap the sun or just have it on part of the structure?

You will also need to think carefully about the kind of glass that you want if you do choose to have a conservatory. The fact that conservatories have a reputation for either being too hot or too cold is largely down to the fact that they are largely made of glass, which can either make the room hot due to heating by the sun, or let the cold in, due to poor insulation. Consider glass that has a reflective coating or even argon-filled units, which will keep the warmth in. If you are in a very sunny spot then you may just have to think about giving up some glass for a more traditional roof.

Above all, you should think about whether what you really want is a conservatory. They really are best used as spaces for relaxing in, extending the number of days in the year where you can stare out onto the garden and warming your bones when there is sun but plenty of wind. If you want a study or storage spot then consider a shed or outdoor office. But if you want somewhere to unwind with a good book and a glass of white wine then a conservatory is still a very good choice indeed, not to mention a cost-effective one.

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