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Orangeries & Conservatories - How Do I Tell Them Apart?

Clients often ask us this question so we thought we would tackle it in a blog. Once explained, it is extremely easy to spot which is which!


Conservatories were once deemed almost unusable, being piping hot during the summer and freezing cold in winter. The arrival of temperature controlled glass and superior insulation materials greatly reduced this problem and you can now enjoy a relatively even temperature year-round.

Conservatories sit on a brick base but are fully glazed, using glass panes for the sides and roof. They can be added to the rear or side of a property to increase the usable space, for example by adding a dining room. Subject to size, planning permission is not normally required for a conservatory but your architectural designer will be able to advise for your specific case. Overall, conservatories offer a practical and cost-effective solution to adding more space and comfort to your home.

One of the benefits of choosing a conservatory over an orangery is that additional glazing will mean you benefit from more natural light and perhaps also gain a wider view of your garden. Conservatories are also normally a more cost-effective solution.


Orangeries, as the name suggests, first came about as a method of cultivating citrus plants during the northern European winters. The brick walls used in orangery construction provided a substantial barrier against the cold, while southerly facing large glass windows brought in the warmth of the sun. Orangeries are still constructed using brick walls with large windows and doors, and now have a glass lantern embedded in the traditionally flat roof to let in yet more light.

Unlike a conservatory, an orangery can either form an extension to your home, or it can stand as an entirely independent structure and be used as a summer house, home office or separate accommodation. On the whole, the use of brickwork tends to make an orangery look more like a traditional ground-floor extension. A few simple tweaks however, like adding bi-fold doors, can help ensure the orangery still benefits from a maximum of sunlight.

Orangeries do not normally require planning permission, as long as they fall within the permitted development guidelines. Your architectural designer will be able to advise on your specific case as there are some exceptions.

In Conclusion

From an architectural and structural point of view the benefits of choosing an orangery far outweigh those of a conservatory.

With an orangery, the increased amount of brickwork means a far more effective level of insulation, which in turn provides a more consistent and controllable temperature. The structure of an orangery also more closely resembles a standard home extension and so normally adds more financial value to your home.

We are not blessed with lengthy summers in the UK, however, so adding any glass based extension to your home, be it an orangery or a conservatory, is an ideal way to maximise living space, increase the natural incoming light and potentially also add financial value to your home.


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