3 Alternatives to the Traditional Conservatory

The UK may boast some of the most changeable weather in the world – summer sun in the morning to icy winds through the night! But it also enjoys some of the most splendidly diverse landscapes and biodiversity, and that’s great for UK homeowners.

Making the most of an outdoor space isn’t just about having somewhere to sit and watch the butterflies come and go. It’s about sensible investment, maximising the usefulness of a property footprint and creating an indoor environment that works practically and aesthetically with the world around it.

Britain has always been a nation in love with the conservatory, but are there any other options? Here are three popular trends that tick all the boxes of the traditional conservatory and add a few new features, too!

Garden Rooms

Garden rooms are structures built separate to the main house. They come in various different designs and sizes and don’t usually need planning permission if they’re only single storey dwellings. Modular garden rooms can be bought with things like drains and electrical cables pre-installed.

A lot of the companies that produce garden rooms operate as beginning to end design and installation services producing bespoke structures suitable for all sizes of outdoor areas. This tends to mean a nice reliable, easy process from the design table to the garden.


Orangeries are typically large glass roofed structures near or attached to the main house. The term ‘orangery’ comes from the 17th century tradition of growing oranges inside large orangeries during frosty months. And it’s the size of orangeries that is perhaps their greatest pro.

For properties with a lot of outdoor space, a bespoke orangery could offer superb aesthetic and property value investment. In the UK, orangeries are particularly popular as kitchen/living area hybrids thanks to their size, ventilation and amazing brightness.

Orangeries tend to be more of a high-end option than the traditional conservatory. They’re built to be stronger, better at controlling heat and ventilation and generally more all-season useful than a traditional unheated conservatory.

Contemporary Extensions

If space is an issue, a contemporary extension could be the way forward. Where something like an orangery may be a little on the large side, a contemporary extension can be designed to fit small bespoke spaces. Modern design is all about finding new ways to solve old problems – poor natural lighting, harmful overlooking, lack of space, etc.

Design firms often work along similar lines to those producing garden rooms, offering a beginning to end service to make sure all planning permission is in place (if needed) and the process from the drawing board to the build itself is as smooth as possible.

Efficiently using space is what modern British homeownership is all about. With more people looking to stay put and make the most of their current land and property, the market for clever extensions and garden room solutions is growing steadily.

Libby Carins writes for various design and architecture blogs, including Breckenridge Conservatories. She lives between London and the Scottish Highlands.

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