Styles of Conservatory and Conservatory Designs
Here I look at types of conservatory structures and how you can link them with both house and garden. The following examples illustrate both the traditional and the new in a range of styles that can be suitably adapted to a contemporary setting.
A feature such as a conservatory is something of a hybrid, being neither a free-standing greenhouse nor an integral part of the building. It fulfills both functions in part, acting as an informal living room that can be richly furnished with vegetation.
Long ago conservatories were invariably ornate and usually large, needing a corresponding budget to maintain them in peak condition. Today our style of living has changed and houses are smaller and more intimate. It makes sense therefore to build a conservatory that will not only preserve the form of its parent building but remain within your financial limits as well.
Once you have budgeted you can think about the style and possible position of the new feature. The latter will be determined to some extent by the direction of the sun and by the point of access from the house. In general terms however a conservatory will look more at home in a situation where it extends the visual line of a roof, fitting snugly into the angle formed by a projecting wall. This technique has been well exploited in the example shown at left.
White is the traditional colour for interior and exterior painting, but re member to use common sense and respect existing colour schemes when making your choice.
Planting is just as important outside the conservatory as inside and provides the ideal link between house and garden. Notice how foliage softens virtually all the examples shown, the walls becoming incidental and the view synonymous with the garden.
We have already emphasized the importance of a well-paved, non-slip floor and it is worth bearing in mind that the choice of a surface does much to influence the mood of the overall composition. Natural materials such as slate or stone tend to look and feel cool; they are traditional, as many of the fine historical conservatories bear witness, but on the debit side they tend to become slippery unless regularly scrubbed down.
As with any variety of floor, make sure that the joints are carefully grouted in the case of tiles, and neatly pointed for brickwork. The stable-type paviors are attractive, but rarely used these days. They are dark blue and the size of bricks, the surface being divided into cubes to give a finished effect not unlike bars of chocolate laid side by side.
Whatever the flooring, make sure that levels are true; with a slight fall there should be a ‘gully available for.
So far we have suggested primarily traditional materials and methods of construction. Since the 1920s there have been striking advances in building technology and this has certainly been echoed in the design of the conservatory’s close relation — the greenhouse. It is surprising therefore that so few conservatories take full advantage of such obvious developments as lightweight alloys, geodetic (dome-shaped) construction, and improved glazing techniques. Where conventional ideas are set aside, the results can be not only striking but eminently practical, where the self-contained outside conservatory room is linked to the house by a glass-walled walk-through.
There is no rule that says a conservatory should be at ground level. Many flat-dwellers have no direct access to a garden and here there is obviously scope for a planned conversion that can fulfill a variety of functions.
In the final analysis, should you feel that a modern approach is out of keeping with your own environment, and should you also be able to afford a substantial budget, it might be worth considering a conservatory designed and built by a specialist firm. Here the expertise of craftsmen is brought into play and a superb finished result may be achieved.
Traditional designs can be recreated using up-to-date techniques, thus providing a visually-appropriate structure according to the style of the setting.
If you are lucky enough to own such a conservatory, it is important to handle the situation with sympathy. In other words, the whole setting must be considered as a design exercise. There is nothing worse than a superb building that sits in a poorly-planned area of crazy paving and dwarf walling.