Coveting a conservatory or building one from scratch? These glazed structures connected to houses are becoming a hugely popular way to extend our living spaces and create functional extra square footage. And it seems they are perfectly suited to the contemporary biophilic trend of bringing nature inside and blurring boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. Maybe it’s also amplified now that we’re living through a pandemic when we are all spending so much more time at home—who doesn’t want more space, especially if it’s an enclosed area that enables all-season Plein air dining. But where to start, after all, there are so many conservatory ideas, from the modern to the classic styles.
Design-wise, conservatories vary dramatically so it really depends on what your intended use is and what your aesthetic preference is. You might like a glazed room with a decent amount of privacy, in which case an orangery is a way to go as it has less glass and more brickwork. On the other hand, you might be drawn to the ‘fishbowl’ style of glass box extension out front of a house, where you basically become part of the streetscape (but it’s a good idea to have blinds to give yourself the option of privacy).
You can find conservatory designs in historical styles (ie. Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian, Elizabethan or Regency) or you can find a very streamlined contemporary glass box extension. There’s a lot of choice in terms of materials, roofing and window designs, and decorative finishes (like blinds, lights and flooring), so costs vary widely. Depending on the complexity and materials of your design and your choice of finishes, a fully-glazed outdoor room with brick ‘dwarf walls’ can be a big-ticket item, but you can also go for an inexpensive lean-to conservatory at the other end of the scale.
Dreaming of your very own conservatory? Well, read on because I’ve gathered up an inspirational selection of beautiful conservatory ideas in a range of styles so you can discover what really works for you.
1. Mix old and new
Whereas in the past there has been a tendency to encourage seamless matching of a building extension to a home’s existing style, these days there is a whole lot more design freedom. Many contemporary glass box extension style conservatories are being added to very traditional, heritage style homes, whether at the front or back. Either way, having a conservatory that stands out is really celebrated now.
2. Convert to alfresco dining
Here’s another example of a contemporary conservatory extension that beautifully updates a heritage building, in this case, an 18th-century weaver’s cottage in Wiltshire. And it demonstrates one of the most popular functions for the new conservatory, becoming an alfresco dining space, especially useful if you don’t have an existing separate dining room.
3. Play with design
When building a conservatory specifically to increase your available living space, you might decide to go with an orangery, being an enclosed glazed room with dwarf walls and roof, to make it feel more like a real room. I like this design which incorporates the privacy advantages of an orangery with the airy lightness of having full-length glass panes in a conservatory.
4. Make the décor cosy
To fulfil its function as a relaxed living space, whether it’s to be a place to dine or simply a soothing place of quietude, your conservatory décor should ideally be as cosy and inviting as possible. Keep things simple and avoid over cluttering the space but choose comfy tables and chairs, perhaps a sofa or (as in this German conservatory) a vintage day bed.
5. Take advantage of innovation
Innovation and advances in technology mean that today’s conservatories can be super comfy and designed for efficiency and sustainability. Whether it boasts self-cleaning glass, solar glass, underfloor heating or electric roof vents—a modern conservatory can be much more than just a basic glass box. I like these conservatory extensions increasingly popular in Nordic countries—made entirely of steel and able to be fully opened on the sides.
6. Add bifold doors
Many conservatories have massive bi-fold or patio type doors that lead to the back garden enabling you to open up the space completely. Here, a dining room is extended out to have a sunroom conservatory attached with a simple glass structure with bi-folds and skylights. This time the same style has been kept between the indoor and outdoor spaces to create flow and continuity. If you don’t have a lot of space, something like this is perfect to create a little alfresco area.
7. Mix whites and naturals
It’s a strong trend globally—relaxed, coastal, Boho style décor. And it’s just perfect for your conservatory, especially if you want to style it as a dining/garden room. For a chilled out, lazy atmosphere, lots of natural fibres and plenty of bright white are one of those can’t-go-wrong interior styles. Dress it up with unusual pendant lights and don’t forget to bring in a few interior plants to reinforce the garden vibe.
8. Contrast your materials
As mentioned above, strong contrast is a deliberate stylistic choice these days and one way to achieve it is to ensure you use a mix of different materials, to blend your home’s original features with your conservatory extension. Below, a glass living room that extends out of the brick home, well into the outside environment to make the most of the stunning wintry setting.
9. Go for warmth
Here’s another example of a beautiful conservatory space designed to extend the kitchen dining area of this Brazilian home. I love that this conservatory incorporates so many warm tones which helps counteract any perceived coldness caused by the abundant use of glass. Natural materials like timber, stone and organic textiles really reinforce the sense of bringing the outdoors in, too.
10. Create conservatory spaces
Utilising your side return space to construct a conservatory is becoming very popular. Here, a kitchen has been extended out to create a bright and inviting dining room area in this central London home. Again, mixing styles is perfectly acceptable nowadays—here the contemporary extension blends beautifully with the home’s Georgian brick style. Furnishing a side return conservatory requires restraint to enable ease of movement through the space—a smallish, narrow dining table and chair/bench combo work well.
11. Generate jungalow charm
Surround yourself with indoor plants in a conservatory greenroom. I dare you to feel anything but tranquil sitting here! Historically, conservatories were utilised more as food and plant stores, before they became much more of multipurpose living space. But nowadays many people are returning conservatories to their roots (literally) and setting up spaces that serve as greenhouses or glasshouses. But—why not make it dual-use and turn it into your home office as well, like this?
12. Turn your porch into a conservatory
Transform part of your porch into a conservatory by enclosing it in glass, as has been done in this home. A moody dining area has been created for year-round ‘outdoor’ dining, with a calming monochromatic colour palette. I love the group of pendant lights which gives this relatively plain space some visual interest and a nice modern edge.
13. Grow vines
Your conservatory roof is the ideal place to grow trailing or cascading plants and this will go a long way to connecting the room with the garden. Similarly, choosing organic décor and a bright colour palette will assist with creating that natural vibe. Here, a beautiful greenhouse-style conservatory with vines interwoven into the roof. The rough, herringbone brick paving also brings instant outdoors flavour.
14. Have an indoor alfresco dining room
While some conservatories are designed to be used more as solo spaces for solitude and tranquillity, where you can dwell amongst plants or books and enjoy the sunshine or the rain, many are specifically intended to be additional social spaces, like the conservatories kitted out as faux-alfresco dining rooms. In that case, bench seating like this is a real plus to amp up the functionality of the new space.
15. Add greenery and wood
This conservatory space is actually at the centre of a Danish restaurant but I think it really captures the spirit of the modern conservatory as an additional living space especially suited to dining. And it’s a beautiful example of an enclosed indoor-outdoor room that really immerses itself in nature. Design tip to steal? Emphasise a green theme by choosing reclaimed, repurposed and restored décor.
16. Keep it airy and bright
When your conservatory is a real multi-function space, allowing for eating in, nestling with a book, working on your laptop and so on, the choice of furniture is really important so you don’t end up with a jumble of clutter. Light coloured furniture keeps the glazed area feeling bright and spacious, and floating shelving is a great idea to make use of wall space without overpowering.
17. Maximise views
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that if you have a view like this, you will want to make the most of it. A conservatory allows you to add an all-season outdoor/indoor living space like this that truly embraces nature by not restricting the views with window frames. Timber flooring again continues the theme of bringing the outside in.
19. Cosy conservatory
If you’re looking for small conservatory ideas, this tiny Boho style orangery shows how you can fit a lot into a little space without it looking too cluttered. It’s actually an addition to a Parisian hotel lobby and looks to be a lovely peaceful chillout zone. I like the botanical-inspired colour scheme, the comfy rugs underfoot, and how it makes use of the walls for décor and plants.
20. Convert to dining
Conservatories are simply perfect to use as a dining room—who doesn’t want to dine under the stars? And you can get clever with your design like these homeowners did with the glazed extension to their Edwardian terraced house. While the dining room extends a few metres into the garden, its height has been artificially created by lowering the floor by half a metre, meaning the development remained within the limits that don’t require planning permission.
21. Turn bricks into a feature
Conservatories are ideal to convert to a home office—working surrounded by windows can really help your productivity and being able to gaze out on a view can also help prevent eyestrain. This conservatory at the rear of a home is a lovely airy glazed structure made of steel, with the brick walls adding plenty of visual interest and giving a rustic, industrial flavour.
22. Blur outside and inside
This Swedish conservatory is a great example of how to blur those indoor/outdoor boundaries. From the recycled brick flooring (with underfloor heating) to the wood-burning firebox, to the statement fig tree and earthy terracotta décor—everything combines to keep the space feeling fresh, rustic and envigorating.
23. Have a greenhouse conservatory
The traditional use for a conservatory is still popular—growing plants in a glasshouse protects your greenery from the elements and hothouses them into giving you a bountiful harvest. If you plan on using a conservatory to enjoy growing your food, then do think about your choice of flooring as it will need to be easy to clean and handle heavy use. Stone and tiles are naturally gorgeous but laminate flooring will also work.
24. Keep it simple
When it comes to conservatory décor ideas, it’s preferable to err on the side of minimalism with your furnishings, because a conservatory is often not the biggest space and can therefore easily feel cluttered. For window dressings, streamlined blinds are usually the best choice rather than billowing swathes of curtains. Simple venetian blinds are popular, but you could consider installing motorised roof blinds to reduce glare from above and to make life easier.
25. Make a book nook
Make the absolute most of your conservatory by creating seating zones right by the windows, like this book nook constructed in a conservatory’s bay window. The timber bookshelf seating with its upholstered velvet cushioning fits perfectly into this traditional style of conservatory and the colours have been chosen to enhance the garden aspect.
You’re halfway through, but there are still plenty more conservatory ideas to follow!
26. Add lots of plants
Because they are suffused with light, conservatories make the perfect place to grow indoor plants successfully, even if you have a black thumb! And filling your conservatory with greenery helps create that transition to the garden. For a traditional style of conservatory, choose timber and cane furniture, make a brick wall a feature, and stick to an earthy, natural colour palette.
27. Go for bright white
Almost all of the conservatories I viewed include a table and chairs and often a comfy lounge, with materials ranging from traditional wicker to modern outdoor furniture designed not to fade, to vintage statement pieces for charm and character. A good trick to avoid furniture dominating a space and to keep things feeling spacious is to opt for white or light coloured furniture like this.
28. Go for a budget design
If you are keen on a conservatory extension but are off by the expense, don’t be. There are various tricks that a builder will be able to employ to reduce costs, such as constructing it within the limits that don’t require planning permissions, using lower-cost roofing materials like polycarbonate, reducing the number of sections, forgoing dwarf walls in favour of full-length glass (like this), having a pre-fabricated steel base rather than digging foundations, and more.
29. Consider a fireplace
This is another rustic and earthy conservatory that incorporates lots of natural textures and fibres, which contrast nicely with the strong black steel frame. The muted colours work to bring nature in, as does the wood stack and the potted tree. So simple but such a pleasing overall effect.
30. Contemporary conservatory
For a contemporary take on conservatory décor, an all-black colour scheme looks the goods. Why not find a painter to give your conservatory interior a makeover in a soft matte black? Choose outdoor furniture that won’t fade, and then simply add lots of plants—black plus greenery is a tried and true decorating combo. I love the industrial pendant light here too.
31. Add pattern for impact
While your conservatory is best kept spacious and not overstuffed with furniture, you can add plenty of visual drama through the pattern in the textiles or in the flooring, as has been done here with the chequerboard tile. I also like the dose of warmth through the glossy timber dining table in the monochrome space.
32. Steal from café style
You can pinch a lot from restaurant bistros and cafés that feature a glazed indoor/outdoor room—minus a few sets of tables and chairs, of course. This Italian bistro conservatory is said to be an example of how to celebrate the art de vivre (or art of enjoying life), by which I believe they mean the general ambience, style and grace of the space. Look at those gorgeous chandeliers, the tile, and the abundant lush plantlife! Definitely a few styling ideas in there.
33. Have a freestanding conservatory
While most of the conservatories featured in this article are connected to houses, it’s also possible to have a completely standalone structure in the garden. Use it as a greenhouse or simply as a place to escape to and enjoy solitude within nature while not having to leave your yard!
34. Go for a relaxed vibe
Once again, this conservatory is a simple additional living space designed to take some of the pressure off the home’s existing living areas. A place to sit and chill, beside a lovely wood-burning stove, I like the choice of lighting here—cloud-like white pendant lights that balance the white of the furniture and flooring.
35. Contemporary and linear
Here we have another conservatory where a contrast in materials makes for plenty of visual interest. You have the white plaster walls of the home juxtaposed with the wooden lath cladding and black steel frame of the conservatory extension and further contrasted by stairs made of oak, gabion fencing and stone trim. This conservatory acts as an anteroom next to the front entrance.
36. Create a winter garden room
Many people enjoy having a conservatory that functions as a sunroom for all seasons and there’s truly nothing more pleasant than spending time in a space like this. To create a calm and relaxing space, keep your colour scheme natural and warm, and add plenty of organic fibres to the furniture and finishes.
37. Cottage charm
A white-painted roof structure is a great way to keep your conservatory feeling light and open. This blissful, rustic indoor/outdoor room looks perfect for some rest and relaxation and keeping the windows and doors clear really maximises the view of the garden from the house.
38. Side return conversatory
Conservatories are a brilliant way to make use of wasted space such as your home’s side return to create a brand new living space. And it’s a relatively low-cost way to add value to your home. In this Victorian terrace house in Camden Town, an orangery-style extension features an exposed timber frame and a pivot door that swings into the garden as well as a glazed roof. The overall effect is beautifully pared-back and minimal.
39. Install raised garden beds
This generous sized conservatory is in fact a greenhouse at Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants in the world—and the chef René Redzepi handpicks his ingredients here. I thought we could draw some inspiration from the gorgeous décor! There’s no reason you can’t have a similar setup with a series of raised garden beds, some timber furniture, lots of white and some industrial pendants. Simple yet so effective.
40. Make it sophisticated
A black steel frame for your conservatory roof and windows gives a sophisticated Parisian flavour which you can enhance with some vintage furniture and plenty of potted plants. I love the ambience of the wall sconces here and the Moroccan floor tile is gorgeous too.
41. Go for a classic style
This grand, traditional conservatory with its wonderful high dome and stone floor has a very formal feeling to it—you could imagine yourself as a character in a historical romance novel sitting here! It’s big enough to incorporate several seating zones without feeling cluttered, and a ceiling fan ensures comfort in warmer seasons.
42. Keep it radiant
Conservatories are all about the light and flooding your living space with gorgeous sunny brightness, so having flooring that is shiny and reflective will amplify the effect. I like the inclusion of a rattan chair which is see-through, and sculptural glass vases, also intensifying the translucence of the space.
43. Add dramatic lighting
While natural light is the focus of a conservatory, you’ll also want to have light fixtures for evenings. Since the roof of a conservatory or orangery is usually quite simple, you can afford to be a little extra with your lighting. Layering your lighting is a good idea, with a mix of wall sconces, ceiling pendants and table lamps or a collection of candles. On-trend natural rattan pendants like these are great as they retain the airiness of the space.
44. Extra large conservatory
Wouldn’t a massive orangery dining room like this be magic? Those high ceilings! Mind you, they likely demanded planning permission, which would increase the cost. Still, this space, part of a family home built by artisans, is swoon-worthy. There’s a lot of personality from the stained glass lanterns to the tile to the vintage chairs and generous dining table.
45. Play with styles
In keeping with the evolving garden trend towards blending old and new styles, this townhouse has a glazed oak extension which the architects wanted to act as a bridge or transition between the classic Georgian style of the home and the contemporary styled garden.
So the modern conservatory (which contains the kitchen/dining area), while frameless glazed, also has a pitched roof to bring those traditional vibes, before you step out into a modern garden.
46. Think outside the box
This unusual and complicated wood and concrete contemporary design probably falls into the category of orangery as it has a roof. I love the wooden window frames contrasting with the concrete and the way the circular roof is designed to accommodate the tree. It certainly seems to be a lovely place to lounge and catch the breeze.
47. Classic and romantic
If you decide to go with a conservatory design in a traditional style, play up the olde worlde charm by decorating with vintage furniture and elegant light fixtures like this crystal chandelier. How gorgeous are the arches in this romantic conservatory design? Something like this would definitely require the specialised skills of a expert conservatory glass cutter!
48. Scandi conservatory
This modern orangery has been designed to function as a boot or mudroom so it’s been kept nice and clear to facilitate the household comings and goings, and there’s a beautiful tile floor to make cleaning a breeze. I like the darker Scandi style with its neutral grey palette and just a few simple pieces of décor in natural fibres.
49. Embrace the classic look
How beautiful is this traditional, classic conservatory with its lavish vaulted glass and timber roof? These vintage conservatories are so picturesque, but they may be quite impractical when you think about the potential for a pane of heritage glass breaking in a storm or the fact that you risk breaking your neck every time you clean your windows best to leave the conservatory cleaning and repairs to the professionals!
50. Have an igloo instead
And now the lucky last of our conservatory ideas! Want the conservatory feel without all the effort and expense of building one? You might like the idea of installing a garden igloo or geodesic dome. These low-commitment prefabricated small conservatory pods let you enjoy the benefits of having an indoor/outdoor room at a fraction of the cost. It just depends on whether their smaller size makes you feel too claustrophobic!
So I hope the above conservatory ideas have given you some inspiration! If you’re ready to start planning your ideal conservatory, your best bet is to take a look through a variety of specialist conservatory builders’ portfolios and vet their independent reviews. This will help you choose someone trustworthy who really knows your preferred style. Don’t forget adding a conservatory is subject to planning rules just like any kind of home extension, so make sure you check the rules and regulations.
Conservatories offer so much freedom to create whatever extra living space you most desire: be it a dining room, flower or garden room, sunroom, mud or boot room area, even a home office. Or it might just be somewhere to sit and watch the world go by, even in quiet suburbia, and feel more connected to the community.
Once you actually have a conservatory, you’ll need to work out a cleaning routine–you’ll find there are several specialised duties to carry out, like cleaning conservatory blinds, roofs, gutters and of course, numerous windows. But you can easily find someone to take over those conservatory cleaning tasks for you.
Which is your favourite style of conservatory? Let me know in the comments!