In glass houses
Adding a conservatory to your home allows you to enjoy the great outdoors, whatever the weather. Modern conservatories come – bespoke or pre-fabricated – in all shapes and sizes, and they can be beautiful. An extension to your living space, a spot for enjoying the garden, or simply a peaceful retreat, this week Latest Interiors takes a look inside some glass houses.
Form and function
Mention a conservatory, and what springs to mind might be a uPVC stick-on horror from the ‘80s. Modern conservatories have thankfully come a long way since then. Of course, if your budget is limited or you want something simple and straightforward, you can easily opt for an off-the-peg package. But these days, you can expect more from a conservatory. Many companies use cutting-edge design, offering contemporary frame-free glass structures. Or they can be carefully and traditionally constructed to ensure they look and feel right on period properties.
Materials like uPVC tend to be the best budget buy, and in a well designed structure can be an economical, energy saving choice. But designers are increasingly returning to the more eco-friendly and beautiful, glass, steel and timber.
When choosing a conservatory, be guided by the period of your home. Don’t stick an ornate Georgian-style extension onto your Victorian terraced home. Discreet and understated modern structures can work on period properties, when the design is simple. New builds and modern homes have licence to be more creative. Frame-free glass structures maximise light and look incredible; timber can bring a light and contemporary feel to both modern and period structures.
Bring the outside in
Think you don’t have the space? You’d be surprised at how versatile a conservatory can be. Because conservatories are formed largely of glass, even a small structure – for example a glass and steel lean-to against French doors, or inside a courtyard – can feel airy and light. Depending on the size of the structure and where you live, there is a chance that planning permission may be needed, especially in conservation areas. Check with Brighton & Hove City Council at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk.
There are other ways to bring the outside into your home, if you don’t have space for a new external structure. Removing part or all of a back wall and replacing it with French doors is an option. Even better are the new generation of aluminium or wood-framed folding doors, as they take up less room.
You can have fun furnishing your conservatory with the perfect excuse for some sumptuous seats, cushions and throws. Opt for simple, light furniture and keep the area bright and warm. If your conservatory is overlooked, adding plantation or roller blinds will afford you some privacy. Smart use of exterior lighting can create a spectacular talking point, whatever the weather.