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Conservatory vs Orangery

What’s the difference between a Conservatory and an Orangery?

& which option would best suit different properties?


When it comes to a house extension, UK home owners have many options, but some options will always be more appealing to others. While Conservatories are currently very popular, many people prefer something that blends into their current home and looks more like a natural part of the structure rather than a post-modern addition.

This is why many people opt for an Orangery – but what are the major differences between these two styles of home extension.

Orangery Vs Conservatory – the differences.

Traditionally an orangery was a primarily glass structure designed to retain heat and allow for the growing of oranges or other semi-tropical fruits, and to this end, both the modern conservatory and Orangery maintain many of these elements; they both employ a great deal of glass in the structure and the roofs are designed to let in as much light as possible. This is also why they are commonly referred to as “sun rooms”.

These days, the major differences are not too difficult to spot, in that conservatories will always have a sloped or angled roof. In the case of a lean-to conservatory it will be single sided, otherwise it will be apexed or vaulted. Roofs for orangeries are almost exclusively flat with a raised glazed lantern section roughly in the centre of the roof.

In terms of the side walls, typically you will find a conservatory with full glass sides, from floor level to roofline. Other than that, you may find some very low level solid dwarf walls (maybe up to 3 feet high maximum). The orangery, on the other hand extensively uses solid pillars and columns is the side walls, making them a large feature of the orangery style.

What makes an orangery stand out from a conservatory, however, is the use of similar or replicated materials to match the house (brick, timber, stone etc.), to make it appear as if it is an original part of the house rather than an extension. By using similar materials, it blends in seamlessly to the current design while still providing the additional space of an extension.

Both designs, however, have moved a long way from simply being a greenhouse of sorts to being a valuable and much loved additional living space for whatever purpose is required; this can include operating as a living area, kitchen extension, dining or entertainment / games room or whatever else homeowners need extra space for.

It is also important to note that while conservatories usually do not require planning permissions in the UK, the orangery has an increased likelihood of requiring planning permission to build; speak to your local builder or planning office to find out what the requirements are.

Orangery Kitchen Diner / Lounge

Which option would best suit different properties?

There are no hard and fast rules which dictate which style has to be used where, in fact, in most cases the choice may come down to personal preferences and budget. The budget required for an orangery is, in all likelihood, going to be bigger than that for a conservatory of the same dimensions.

Orangeries work best when they have plenty of room, squashing one up against the back wall of your house is not what you should try to do. If you have limited space, then there are many attractive conservatory designs that are more than capable of giving you more living space and enhancing the look and value of your property.

Even if you have the room, but your property is not that large, a huge conservatory or orangery can look out of place – so a balance needs to be struck. It’s not true to say that big homes must have an orangery and smaller homes should have a conservatory, it’s a matter of what suits your style, budget and property proportions.

If you are stuck in the middle, maybe a loggia style conservatory / orangery “hybrid” can fit the bill.

The Features of a Modern Orangery

Like Conservatories, modern Orangeries can be built in a variety of architectural styles and shapes. For conservatories, the roof style will change from design to design (see Victorian, Lean-to or Edwardian roofing style differences). However, orangery roofing design usually is the same whatever the favoured style you give the room.

An Edwardian, Victorian or Georgian “theme” will mostly be reflected in the overall décor, primarily by the styling of the windows and doors.

Victorian and Georgian styling favours ornateness and could well have sash window sections with mullioned glazing. On the other hand, Edwardian style orangeries would be less fussy and have longer plain windows.

You can expect to see a lot of solid sections in the wall, more like a traditional “bricks & mortar” home extension – and by having extended use of solid sections, you can’t expect the same levels of natural light as that of a glass conservatory.

Modern & contemporary Orangery designs can forego all the “classic features” and use sharp, even aggressive styling that features far more glass in the sides and have a minimalistic approach.

You can choose your own custom design from installers depending on your needs and limitations, such as space or budget.

The Advantages of the Modern Orangery

The modern Orangery provides the additional space of a home extension while maintaining the singular look of a building or structure by matching the design and materials already in use; this also gives it a more substantial look as far as home extensions go, and often increases home re-sale value by more than the average conservatory.

As the modern Orangery gives greater control over the flow of light, it is more flexible in terms of overall use options, including as a bedroom (where conservatories may allow too much light to enter, particularly if the extension is south-facing).


Conservatories may let in too much light depending on the direction they are facing. An orangery provides more control over the flow of light. The flat roof with lantern window above it allows for maximum sunlight during the highest point of the day and minimal impact at other times.

Modern materials can also make Orangeries a better option in terms of insulation and thermal regulation. Particularly with more substantive building materials being used, allowing for the extension to stay warm in winter and cool in summer.

Because the walls are essentially constructed from standard (solid) materials as opposed to glass in a conservatory, it is also easier to run cables or pipes through the new structure.

Bottom Line

Is an Orangery right for you?

Depending on what you’re looking for in an extension, an Orangery may be your best bet.Whilst generally more expensive than a conservatory, Orangeries can add more re-sale value to the home and allow for more versatile usage of the area.

The possible requirement for planning permission may be cause of pause, but the seamless nature of the Orangery with your existing structure will look better overall, whether your existing structure is a period piece or something more contemporary.

How much do orangeries cost?

Price Range: