Orangeries began in the 17th century and became very popular during the Edwardian era. Today, an orangery is a popular choice and, like the much-loved conservatory, was initially created to house exotic and citrus plants. The conservatory evolved from the greenhouse, so is mainly built from glass to let in the maximum amount of sunlight. An orangery, however, is an extension of your home and usually designed with materials that match and blend in with your property, providing a highly enjoyable living space. Unlike a conservatory, which is considered to be a temporary structure, an orangery must have planning permission, as it is a permanent extension to your house.
Design and materials
Regular-shaped orangeries are the norm, being rectangular or square, but if you dare to be different, a really good architect and builder could design and build you something bespoke and really different. Although more frequently adjoined to the rear or side of your property, your orangery can be a garden room detached from your house. If you have the opportunity to build a south-facing orangery you’ll benefit from maximum sunlight and warmth. Traditional orangeries use plenty of glass but there are different design options for modern orangeries, which can have walls in:
Construction uses materials such as:
If privacy is your goal, you can opt for a design that doesn’t contain full glass, with any windows provided through glass-mounted panels set into a brick or stone wall.
An orangery is designed to fit in with the space you have available to build it on. If you would like to open up the view to your garden, you can choose a design with two, or even three glass walls fitted with bi-folding or sliding doors. Even a small plot (e.g. at the back of a terraced house), can normally accommodate an orangery with a skylight and a feature wall with a large window or a set of doors. For greater privacy from the side, a solid wall makes an excellent backdrop for plants or paintings and you can position comfortable seating there to sit and gaze at the view. Orangeries make ideal kitchens, studies, sitting rooms, dining rooms, playrooms or entertaining spaces, all with a tremendous aspect onto your garden. With the right design to blend in with your home, an orangery can look like it’s always been part of your property. Your design can be customised by size, shape, colour, frame, doors and roof, with attention to details such as decorative glazing.
The orangery roof is one of the most beautiful and unique features of the design, letting in radiant light through what’s called a ‘lantern roof’. This is a glazed roof, a little like a dome but pointy in the middle! It has a flat roof to the sides with a flat roof membrane to make it weatherproof. The glass used in a the roof lantern can be plain or ornate with the option of solar-control glass to block out much of the UV-light and heat from the sun. This comes into its own if your orangery is south facing. The glass can include a self-cleaning feature, which is handy due to the inaccessibility of most orangery roofs. Inside, the ceiling to the sides of the roof is normally plastered, with light fittings added to suit your home interior taste, making your orangery feel like a real part of your home.
Orangeries are easy to keep warm, as when properly constructed, insulation is included in the wall cavities. The flat part of the roof also helps to insulate the room making it very cosy during the winter months. Of course, electric heaters or radiators can be installed to boost the temperature on those chilly days. The heat from the sun streaming through the glass will always provide natural heat all year round. It’s a good idea to get a roof vent installed for temperature control as, just like a conservatory, it can get very hot in the summer.
The costs of an orangery are normally similar to those associated with a single-story extension to your home or a large conservatory. These costs will increase depending on the size and type of materials you choose for construction, as well as other factors, such as the groundworks and any intricate design features. The average starting cost for an orangery is around £35,000 based on a 6m x 3m footprint. Once you’ve got a quote from a builder or company specialising in orangeries, check what the quote includes before going ahead, e.g. plastering costs, or any structural changes needed to provide the entrance into the orangery from your home.
The building stages
Once you’ve approved your quote together with the plans and your plot’s been surveyed for suitability, the groundworks can begin! Solid concrete foundations are laid, followed by the brickwork and timber structure (or any other material you choose). A damp proof course is included in the walls. The base flooring is then laid, the windows installed and the roof put on. The finishing touches are the internal decorations along with the electrics and plumbing.
Orangeries used to be projects only tackled by competent builders, but now it’s possible to build your own from a kit if you’re competent at DIY. The frames are easy to install, being fully glazed in the factory before dispatch. You don’t have to screw them together, just place them in a cill, securing them with an aluminium connector. Quarter turn buttons are then fitted to the joints both inside and outside, ensuring precise spacing. Comprehensive installation instructions are provided with DIY kits and they normally come with a manufacturer’s guarantee, to give you additional peace of mind. The typical cost of a DIY orangery starts at around £4,000. If that price sounds right but the work aspect too difficult then you might wish to consider a pre-built glamping pod.
By choosing an orangery, you gain a fabulous, stylish multi-purpose room. You might choose to grow exotic plants and leisurely stroll around in it as in times of old, but whatever you use it for, an orangery is a space to live in and enjoy through every season, year in year out and it will certainly add value to your home.