Tips for designing a conservatory

Phantom Screens / August 3, 2016

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According to U.S. News & World Report, outdoor living spaces are one of the most popular trends in home renovation, and that isn’t likely to change. Designs that improve the flow between the indoors and outdoors are even more popular. Families began upgrading their yards to include these features – including conservatories – since they were not traveling as much during the recession. Now that the economy has strengthened, homeowners are continuing to upgrade their patios.

You can transform your yard into an indoor/outdoor haven by building a classical space. Conservatories were first popular with aristocratic families in England in the 19th century and continue to be a much-loved way of expanding a home in the UK. What’s more they are now becoming a design choice on this side of the world.

The purpose of the space

Conservatories are traditionally additions or separate structures made of glass that provide shelter for tropical plants. The temperate English climate didn’t allow gardeners to plant exotic foliage outside, but glass structures intensified the heat of the sun and trapped moisture in order to create the proper conditions for these plants inside. Essentially, conservatories were an easy way to establish indoor climate control.
Families also placed furniture inside the conservatory in order to enjoy the plants while lounging. It was common to host guests for afternoon tea in a conservatory.

The modern conservatory

Your home conservatory can become a haven for tropical plants as well as an indoor/outdoor room. Whether you prefer a traditional design or modern aesthetic, you’ll want to add some contemporary conveniences.

Light: Include a plan of the electrical system in your conservatory design so that you can comfortably use the space at night. Choose an antique light fixture as a focal point if you like the classic look or a modern lamp for an upgraded conservatory.

Retractable screens: You don’t have to give up your privacy to achieve the all-glass design of a conservatory. Consider installing retractable screens in your space so that you can maintain privacy when you need it. Furthermore, the screens will help you control the temperature inside your conservatory. The glass walls can quickly heat the space. This may be good for tropical plants, but it can become uncomfortable for you. The mesh on your screens will block a large amount of ultraviolet light, keeping the space cool.

Matching your home

The key to designing a conservatory that seems like a natural part of your home is to mimic the existing architecture and materials used in the rest of your house. For example, use the same flooring inside the conservatory that is installed in your kitchen or living room. You may also choose window frame colors that complement the exterior paint of your home.

The glass look

A major identifier of a conservatory is that both the walls and ceiling are made of glass. You can continue this tradition or design a modern, slightly different version, depending on what you want to do with the space. If you plan on using the conservatory for its intended purpose – growing warm-climate plants in a cold environment – then you want to keep the glass ceiling as it allows more sunlight to enter the room. However, if you aren’t adding tropical plants and are building a conservatory more for its aesthetic and atmospheric appeal, then you can decrease the amount of glass used. For example, you may forgo the glass ceiling or only have a couple walls made of the material.

Pulling it all together

Once your conservatory is built and you’ve installed light fixtures and retractable screens, you can start thinking about what you’ll place inside the room. Whether or not you’re caring for tropical plants, you’ll want some foliage. Consider adding potted plants in strategic locations throughout the room.
Furthermore, you can add furniture that will promote a relaxing environment. Include a table and chairs, sofas and coffee tables, for example.