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Should I get a conservatory or orangery?

Building a home extension in the form of an orangery or conservatory is not only an excellent way to increase the value of your property, it also provides a living space for growing plants, eating meals and enjoying the sun without being at risk from any pesky insects or noise pollution. While the term ‘conservatory’ is understood to be a room full of glass panes which is optimised for the intake of sunlight, the term ‘orangery’ is not as well known. Despite this, orangeries were actually the predecessors of conservatories.


Orangeries originally became popular in the 17th century, when solid indoor structures were erected to provide protection for orange and lime trees growing in the cold European winter climate. The orangeries of Kensington Palace and Kew gardens, erected in the 17th century, are still visible today. However, orangeries are thought to have originated from Italy, a country which was leading the innovation of clear glass design. In addition to the purpose of sheltering plants, orangeries were also seen as a status symbol, with some upper-class estates having huge orangeries which contained areas for entertaining guests and opulent decorations. Modern day orangeries are much smaller, but still provide an excellent place to shelter plants and entertain guests.

So, what’s the difference between an orangery and a conservatory?

While there is certainly some overlap between the two, the key difference is in the structural design. Both orangeries and conservatories feature glass roofs and large window panes for maximising the intake of sunlight, but orangeries feature more brickwork and are more reminiscent of traditional house extensions, whereas conservatories are primarily glass structures. Both however use double glazing and heat-efficient glass in order to optimise the temperature throughout the seasons. One could argue that conservatories put more of a focus on being an enclosed part of the garden, whereas orangeries are more of a private space where you can enjoy various activities and entertain guests.

Making the right decision

If you are choosing to have a house extension and are not sure which direction to go, there are certain factors to be considered. For instance, orangeries are a little bit more expensive than conservatories, primarily because they take longer to install with deeper footings and more groundwork required. This increase in cost is mirrored in an increase in property value however. The key consideration should be functionality: if you’re looking for a space to enjoy the garden then a conservatory is probably the best bet, whereas if you want an extension to increase living space then an orangery might be the way to go. If you’d like some help in deciding which form of house extension is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Unicorn Windows so we can suggest an option which not only fits your requirements, but fits your budget too!

(Photo by mzacha)