Add space and style with a modern glass conservatory

The newest conservatories are space-creating architectural marvels.

The humble conservatory is rapidly becoming a thing of beauty, though a series of national studies has revealed that the best types don’t come cheap. Most conservatories cost between £5,000 and £10,000, but if you want a design-led room with underfloor heating, hi-tech solar-efficient glass and a good architect on board, then expect to pay from £20,000 to £40,000 and, in some cases, much more.
“Those awful plastic contraptions clumsily cemented to the rear of numerous properties in the Seventies and Eighties are coming down,” says George Franks, sales director of estate agents Douglas & Gordon.
“They might have offered cheap extra space, but they did nothing to enhance a sale. Conservatories have evolved beyond recognition and, as sympathetic extensions, are a winner.”
One example of what is possible is the award-winning Lens House in Canonbury by Alison Brooks Architects. After being asked to create a glass garden extension to a Victorian semi, Brooks tore up the rule book and designed a complex series of dark, geometric, Corian window surrounds.
One wraps around the back wall of the house, while the other extends into the garden to create an extra living room with huge picture windows framing garden views.

Seamless: DSDHA has opted for a more traditional design for this glass orangery, which extends a Georgian farmhouse in Norfolk

A more symmetrical approach was taken to create a glass orangery to extend a Georgian farmhouse in Norfolk. DSDHA, which is headed by husband-and-wife team Deborah Saunt and David Hills, took this classical form, slotted it between existing brick outbuildings, then used minimal frames to create a seamless look.
Cedar panelling links the main house and the glasshouse, which is used as a reception room and home to a collection of citrus trees.
Architect Nick Willson believes architects are becoming more creative with conservatory designs.
“Over the past few years, the conservatory and the posh version, the orangery, have been replaced with more architectural pieces as home owners are keen to improve their homes, create light and space, and easy access to their gardens,” he says.
A conservatory in a classic style, such as the timber conservatory/dining room at a house in St John’s Wood, takes advantage of a large garden and has been placed centrally to the rear of the building.
It reaches back almost 20ft to create a room with green views on three sides. The property is on the market for £10.95 million with Aston Chase.

More than a touch of glass: a double-decker conservatory attached to a Victorian villa in Chislehurst, Kent, preserves integrity but adds wow factor

A Victorian villa in Chislehurst has the wow factor thanks to the addition of a double-decker glass conservatory.
It preserves the integrity of the original building while adding two extra living spaces drenched in light. The six-bedroom house is for sale for £2.37 million with Hamptons International.
Oliver Clarke, sales manager of Barton Wyatt in Virginia Water, believes a well-built conservatory adds as much value per square foot as a more solid extension.
“They allow families to eat in a sunny place, even if it is a bit chilly outside. They are a relaxed place for drinks before more formal dining and kids love to hang out in them,” he adds.
A strategically designed listed terrace house in Islington has a conservatory with enough space for a bedroom, kitchen and living room.

Ideal pairing: timber and glass bring contemporary class to this Islington conservatory by DOS Architects

DOS Architects used the classic combination of glass and timber and rang the changes with ridged Iroko wood to create tactile, chunky pillars surrounding the bedroom, giving the sleeper privacy, while using sheets of glass to separate the kitchen and living area from the outside world.

  • In south-facing gardens, it is crucial to introduce some sort of shading and ventilation.
  • A concrete or stone floor will help to absorb heat, which dissipates during cooler evenings. Integral vents allow a cooling draft, while shutters or blinds provide shade.
  • Triple glazing, while admittedly expensive, reduces heat loss in winter and lets in less heat during summer. Low-emissivity glass, which is coated with silver or tin oxide, will help keep a glass room cool.
  • Frosted glass in the ceiling will also prevent overheating. North-facing conservatories are cooler, but colder in winter.
  • Building regulations are strict, so consult your planning officer and/or architect before you take the plunge.

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