If you're looking for decor inspiration for your conservatory ideas – and expert planning advice – we're here to make your project a success.
Traditionally separated from the main house, classic conservatory or sunroom ideas remain popular add-ons, particularly to a period property.
Recently, a more modern approach, in the form of a flexible, fully integrated open-plan space, is becoming popular. As a multi-functional space, it can accommodate a variety of key room types, including the kitchen, living room or dining area.
So whether you opt for a conservatory idea that is classic or contemporary, be sure it works in harmony with both your home’s exterior and adjoining rooms.
Get the design right with these conservatory ideas
1. Be considerate of your conservatory's orientation
In order to capture as much sunlight as possible, a glazed conservatory idea should be south, south-east or south-west facing.
If you plan to use the space most first thing in the morning for breakfast, or as an evening room, however, then it will work best if it faces east or west accordingly.
While south-facing conservatories will capture the most natural light, to prevent overheating they also require adequate shielding from the sun, with temperature control measures to stay cool.
2. Make an informed decision with conservatory glazing
The main component of any successful conservatory is the glazing, which must perform an almost impossible task, blocking excess solar gain, while retaining heat on colder days. There are many options when it comes to glass extension ideas, and choosing well – particularly for the roof – will ensure the temperature of your space is comfortable year round.
Low-e glass with an argon-filled cavity is a good option – it has a thin low-emissivity coating to reflect heat, while the gas in the cavity greatly reduces the transfer of heat.
Other types of glass have coatings to reduce the sun’s rays and some are even self-cleaning. These help by gathering dirt so that it simply washes away when it rains.
Bear in mind that when glass is treated it can lose some of its clarity and take on a slight tint, so take a close look at the options available and choose one that’s as clear as possible. For the greatest clarity and maximum light, look at low-iron glass.
3. Be mindful of potential home security issues
With so much glazing, security could be an issue, but glass in conservatories must be toughened up to a height of 800mm, or up to 1,500mm for glass doors.
Any quality glass roof should also feature toughened glass as standard. Be sure to put aside budget for this to deter burglars.
It's also worth investing in additional home security technology and fixtures for this quarter of your home. You may want to consider a shoot lock system with force-resistant hinges.
Ultimately, common sense pays too. So keep valuables out of sight - especially if you have a space that people can look into.
4. For a Gothic decor idea, opt for stain glassed windows
Colorful and reminiscent of boiled hard candy, a stained glass window in your conservatory adds Gothic interest and glamour to a plain scheme.
This accent idea has the best of both words, framing the rectangular panes of clear glass. But it'll all depend on the types of window you have in your conservatory on how creative you can be.
So you don't need rose-tinted glasses to have an optimistic and cheerful attitude in your home.
5. Use timber in your conservatory idea
Timber frame is the alternative desirable option for a period home. Oak sun rooms look stunning and if unpainted the wood will weather beautifully. Other popular timbers include Douglas fir, sapele and Accoya, which is modified to be incredibly durable and resistant to fungal attacks.
Ensure that wood is factory painted or treated, which will make it rot resistant and mean it should last around ten years before requiring any maintenance.
And, if a timber frame is painted a color that isn't to your taste, knowing how to strip paint from wood is a good place to start.
6. For an affordable conservatory idea, use PVCu
By far the most commonly used material for conservatories and house exterior design, PVCu is more affordable than the alternatives, widely available and maintenance free.
However, steer clear of it when looking at the best extension ideas for period homes as this material results in bulkier, inauthentic sections and details.
7. Create a play room idea in your conservatory
With lots of space to store (and hide away) an ever-growing toy collection, creating a kids playroom idea in your conservatory is a smart decision.
But it doesn't mean that this space will look like a yard sale. With clever toy storage ideas and cute decor you can create a dedicated corner for your little darling.
Use bunting and adhesive decals to introduce personality into this area of the room.
8. Upcycle a tired chair idea for relaxing in style
Conservatories offer a quaint and quiet space for us to relax and get our teeth into a book or podcast - whatever the weather.
In contrast to other interior spaces, they allow us to enjoy the warmth and brightness of the outdoors, while protecting us from some of the elements. Just remember your sunscreen as UV rays can penetrate through the glass.
Give your scheme the investment it needs with a wall paint idea and by upcycling your seating ideas.
In this conservatory idea by Annie Sloan, green paint has refreshed a rattan rocking chair. So whether you're a millennial looking for a modern idea, or want your kids to use this space more - this is a cheap and affordable way to revitalize a tired room.
If you live in an area where the weather is unpredictable, bring a garden seating idea inside for it interior makeover. Not only will it stop it from eroding, but you're likely to get more use out of it in the conservatory.
9. Or reupholster a worn sofa idea
If a sofa or armchair in your living room has seen better days - don't throw it away. Instead recycle and relocate it to your conservatory.
With a trip to a haberdashery store, you can transform a dog-eared, sunken couch into a gorgeous seating idea for grandchildren or guests.
Choose a children's TV character motif, chintzy with a full-on floral idea or purchase plaid for rustic country vibes. If you know how to clean upholstery properly, these ideas can last a lifetime.
10. Got bi-fold windows? Add fitted door blinds
Perhaps the main attraction of a conservatory is the connection it creates with the garden. And unless you've serious hayfever allergies, this can be beneficial for both our physical and mental health.
Most period-style additions will open out to the garden through French doors, but bi-fold door ideas are increasingly popular as they stack to the side to allow for a wider opening. They create a wonderfully seamless, outside-in look and feel to any home.
But when you need privacy or shade, a specialist door blind can provide respite.
This sophisticated window treatment idea can be clipped to the inside of your doors. There's no fiddly installation and you won't need to manipulate them when opening and closing the door mechanism.
11. Or add a metallic touch with copper Venetian blinds
If you want to add a little industrial luxe to your conservatory idea - metallic shades including copper and rose gold are a must.
In this conservatory idea by Blinds2Go, these venetian, aluminum slats can be lowered and raised with a modern operating handle. This cord-free design makes for a perfect design in a home with young children.
Pair with a aged metal lighting idea and weathered wood table for a rustic dining room idea.
12. Add plants to bring the outside in
Typically, a conservatory idea is connected to a garden, but there's no hard or fast rule about where you should put plants in the home.
From living room Lillies, to succulents in the shower, the best indoor plants provide a blooming gorgeous backdrop to your conservatory design.
Add height to your conservatory design by using trailing plants and baskets on ceiling, on the floor and on your table decor.
Let's not forget; as well as being a visually aesthetic idea, there are many benefits of houseplants for your physical and mental health too.
13. For a modern touch, add polished tiles
Move over traditional conservatory ideas! This modern design is making 'mooves'.
Emulating this chic black, white and yellow idea couldn't be simpler. To start, lay some polished black tiles. We love these shiny and sleek Doblo Black Polished Floor Tiles by Tile Mountain.
Then add curvy, statement white table and chairs. This particular set oozes style and substance with a cute yellow cushion detail for comfort. Have you spotted the white and yellow stag head figurine too? These accessories definitely hit the mark when looking at how to modernize a conservatory.
And of course, we cannot forget that wow-factor cow hide rug! Offering tactile comfort for your toes, it'll keep your feet warmer than if placed directly on the tiling.
14. Or go retro with a peel-and-stick tiled solution
If you're renter or non-committal decorator, you'll often be on the hunt for temporary ideas that you can take off with ease.
From flooring to wallpaper ideas, fashion and interior design can move very quickly, so we can empathize with you when you love your decor one day, and hate it the next.
If you're after a traditional or retro conservatory idea, this peel-and-stick flooring idea from Original style comes in two colorways. So instead of spending money and time tiling a floor, this adhesive decal is also design option.
While we love this rust brown and blue pattern, the green and beige motif can give both modern and period homes lots of character.
15. Create a seamless space with indoor-outdoor tiles
If you want to make your conservatory idea appear bigger than it actually is, consider whether it will step down to the garden or be on a more level threshold, with direct access to decking or a patio area.
By using the same flooring in your conservatory as those in your garden, you can create a synchonized scheme that gives the illusion of a larger landscape.
Slip-resistant and completely colorfast, this tiling idea by Valverdi has both style and substance.
If your conservatory is open to the main house, you will need to blend it in with the rest of the interior using similar color schemes and furniture styles. This is just one way to achieve a coordinated aesthetic.
'As many of us prefer more informal dining situations at home, a tile that can work in rooms used for both food preparation and enjoyment become increasingly sought after.', says Rob Whitaker, creative director at Claybrook.
'Add to that the popularity of opening up the indoors to connect with outdoors then tiles with an exterior option to continue the look are a sure-fire hit. This outside tiling needs more slip resistance for safety, but can be just as lovely.'
16. Fake a herringbone tile idea with luxury vinyl tile
If you want to create a flooring idea that emulates the look of herringbone wood for less, look to LVT.
Using a luxury vinyl tile design in a conservatory idea can save you dollars in raw materials and resource. This grey oak effect can be continued throughout an adjoining kitchen idea to give the illusion of a seamless space.
Easy to clean, these types of flooring materials can be wiped down should there be muddy footprints or food debris that needs to be cleaned up quickly.
17. Add modular shelving to your conservatory idea
If you're lucky to have a fully functional conservatory which isn't used as a dumping ground for laundry, DIY materials and miscellaneous bits and bobs - well done!
Keeping an organized space can help your conservatory idea to look big, bright and beautiful. But as interior enthusiasts who can't keep our hands off the latest unmissable sales, these products have gotta be stored somewhere. And this is where the magic happens.
Modular shelving ideas can be built to your bespoke needs. In this execution by Bloomingville, six cubes of different sizes are displayed vertically to create a tall and trendy organizer.
But as an alternate idea, they could also be affixed to a wall in a horizontal fashion, to create a pigeon hole style aesthetic.
18. Filter harsh sunlight with day and night roller blinds
Confused about which window treatment is most efficient for your conservatory idea? Get two stunning styles in one blind with a day and night vision blind.
Whether you're looking to let in the light or shut down for sleep, these allow you to do so with their genius inventive design. This is particularly important if you want to create an impromptu guest room in your conservatory.
As you roll it down, alternating strips of fabric slide against one another to switch between a block of color and a stylish set of stripes. Magic!
19. Retain heat during winter with a thermal blind
We've spoken about using your conservatory in comfortable climes but what about in extreme summer or winter? Poor preparation when it's too hot or cold can make it difficult to enjoy your conservatory.
Typically, thermal blinds have an amazing honeycomb fabric to trap the heat, while also allowing light to gently filter through. The outward facing fabric is white, not just for looks but also improved sun protection for you and your family.
It may also save you a few dollars in energy bills too!
20. Opt for a ceiling blind idea in your conservatory
Clever glazing isn’t always enough to keep a room with so much glass at optimum temperature in extremes of weather. Conservatory blinds are very useful for blocking out strong sun, and can be fitted on just the roof, or on both roof and doors.
Opt for bespoke designs that fit your conservatory perfectly and are as discreet as possible when not in use.
Pinoleum blinds, which have a wood-weave design, are an attractive option and create a dappled effect with the light. Electronic operation will make life easier.
21. Don't want blinds? Use a solar window film
Unfortunately, the effects of the sun (fading of furnishings, excess glare and heat) are often ignored at the planning stage of a conservatory idea, whether you've inherited this space, or are a self-builder whose starting from scratch.
This usually means installing expensive window treatments or AC units, which is costly and not always the ideal solution.
Solar window film is an affordable way to remedy this issue. The film is a self-adhesive material, which is applied directly to your conservatory glass, using a squeegee and soapy water.
22. Use warm water or electric underfloor heating
For heating the space in colder months, underfloor heating is usually the best option as it’s the least obtrusive. Underfloor heating can be warm water as part of a larger ground-floor system or, for an instant response - electric. A stone or tiled floor is most thermally conductive.
Alternatively, trench heating is a warm-water system sunk into the ground with a grille on top. Running around the perimeter of the room, it can make an attractive feature.
23. Consider investing in a wood-burning or gas stove
If you use your conservatory as an entertaining space, a wood-burning or gas stove can be a stylish focal point in a glazed extension.
Creating a cozy ambiance in the winter months, it is possible to choose a heating solution that is eco-friendly too. Be sure to shop for a DEFRA approved appliance so that you can use it in smoke-controlled areas.
24. Introduce color into a neutral conservatory idea
In a bright and airy room where lots of light pours in, it's no wonder many of us decide to decorate our conservatory idea in neutral colors such as white, cream or beige.
But if you want to liven up this second living area, shopping for the best sofas may be where you're willing to compromise. In this scheme, they are used to create symmetry in the room.
The gorgeous jewel-like blue couches add luxury to this lounging space. To style them, use bright contrasting cushions in yellow and orange.
Mink curtains also provide a mirror-image uniformity and help to frame the room too. Save yourself some money by knowing how to measure up for curtains.
25. Go for Scandi-chic in a light colored conservatory
Using white and light wood in your conservatory idea? Congratulations! You've unknowingly (or consciously) adopted one of interior design's most sought-after schemes: Scandi chic.
To elevate this space even more, use pattern and muted versions of bright colors in your soft furnishings. We particularly like the idea of using the same polka dot pattern on your seating and cushion covers, as shown here.
Let's no forget the baby blue roman blinds and coordinating throw too!
26. Use natural materials to create a holiday home feel
If you're looking to go on a staycation this holiday season, you needn't leave your home. Instead, look to incorporating natural materials such as rattan, bamboo and other woven textiles into your conservatory idea.
These can come in the form of planters, poofs and decorative trays to store drinks, flowers or candles. Value vacation vibes? Voila.
Can I build my own conservatory?
In short yes. But there are some things you'll need to consider.
Firstly, glazed extensions to older homes must be sympathetic to the house’s period and architecture, meaning a bespoke design is always going to be the preferred option.
Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian homes all have different proportions so there is not a one size fits all rule; use the existing house as a template for the design.
The design must be in proportion with the existing property and pay close attention to details, such as the roof pitch, bargeboards, finials, windows and colors. Where possible source similar materials such as timber, brickwork, flint facings and rendering.
On smaller terraced houses and cottages, a lean-to design often works best.
Do beware that authentic-looking period design can be difficult to recreate, so local authorities increasingly support unobtrusive, minimalist glazed additions to old homes.
How much does a conservatory cost?
A bespoke timber or aluminium conservatory idea costs in the region of £30,000 to £50,000. Expect to pay from £40,000 for an oak frame design.
A better quality bolt-on conservatory kit costs in the region of £10,000 to £20,000. Cheap PVCu DIY kits start from as little as £2,000 to £3,000. However, they often detract from the appeal and value of a period home in particular.
Is a conservatory right for your home?
A conservatory is traditionally an all-glazed structure and was popular for homes from the Victorian era, when ornate structures were fashioned from glass, wrought iron and wood.
Bay fronted styles, high gabled roofs, elaborate finials, cresting, and ridges may be in evidence, along with stained glass, gothic motifs and intricate tracery.
The wealth of design features, along with a diversity in shape and dimension make this type of structure so easily adapted to suit a variety of period homes, whatever its style and size.
For a greater link with the house, consider a sun room idea instead, which tends to be a more solid addition with a full roof, lots of glazing and patio doors.
Does a conservatory add value to your house?
While another large room in the home 'should' add value to the selling price, you shouldn't assume this is the case.
Oak frame extensions, for example are particularly sought after and can significantly increase a home’s value.
However, a bolt-on model is unlikely to add to the house’s appeal or value, and on listed homes will be unacceptable.
Do you need planning permission for a conservatory?
In many cases, the addition of a conservatory or sun room falls within permitted development rights, meaning you don’t need to apply for planning permission.
The same limits apply as with extensions, affecting factors such as size and height – see planningportal.co.uk for the rules.
Local authorities can remove some permitted development rights with Article 4 directions, and f your home is located within a designated area, such as a Conservation Area, extra restrictions apply, so check first. If your home is listed, you will need to apply for listed building consent.
If planning permission is needed, it is more likely to be granted on structures at the rear of a house. Many planners are now particularly receptive to contemporary frameless additions that offer a distinct separation between old and new.
As with all additions, success relies on a sympathetic reflection of the main property, in terms of scale, architecture and proportion.
What are conservatory frames made of?
Traditional glass houses had metal frames, and today aluminium is a popular choice for its classic looks and slim sightlines. It can also be used to cast more ornate designs, similar to the conservatories of the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Modern aluminium frames include thermal breaks to avoid heat loss, and can be powder-coated in any color to produce a maintenance-free addition.
For the best of both worlds, some manufacturers offer composite conservatory frames, which have an aluminium exterior, great for low maintenance, and a timber interior, for warmth.
Does a conservatory need building regulation approval?
A conservatory is part of the existing home or building if it is open plan to the rest of the house, and will have to comply with full building regulations, particularly with regard to glazing and heat loss.
A separate conservatory that has exterior-quality doors separating it from the main part of the house may not need to apply, as long as it is less than 30m2 and it meets the safety regulations for the glazing and electrical installation.
A good designer can advise and liaise with conservation and planning officers to ensure the new structure makes the best use of the available space within the parameters of legislation.
How do I find the right conservatory manufacturer?
Look for a company who have the reputation and years of experience in designing for period properties.
Be guided by their recommendations and where possible visit their workshops and design studios to see first hand the quality of the conservatories and this will help you understand what detail is being proposed.
Try to invest in the best quality you can afford as bespoke conservatories will be individually tailored to your needs and add value to your property.