What’s The Difference Between Orangeries & Conservatories?

Of all the questions that people looking to extend their home put to us, perhaps the most popular concerns the difference between an orangery and a conservatory, and we’re asked about this very often.

It’s understandable that the two home improvements are frequently confused, since both are popular types of home extensions. Yet there are some key differences between them, which we’ll outline in this article. First, let’s look at what each one actually is.

What Is An Orangery?

An orangery is usually described as a structure with large glazed doors and windows and brick pillars, plus a flat roof with a glass lantern. The base is typically made from brick, while the roof is generally more than 75% glass.

These structures first became popular in the seventeenth century, first emerging in countries including France, Germany and Holland. But they originated in Italian Renaissance gardens, as glass-making technology developed to allow large enough glazed areas to be made en masse.

In England, these traditionally south-facing constructions were generally built on grand properties, and used to protect orange and other fruit trees from the severest winter weather. Among the wealthy elite, orangeries became status symbols rather than merely a functional home extension.

Today, you can choose a classic-style or a more modern orangery, with contemporary versions tending to incorporate more glass and thinner brick pillars into the structure, or window and door frames and columns may be made from a modern material such as aluminium. Orangeries can add a touch of present-day glamour to your home – and are ideal if you’re looking for a dash of extra style or perhaps to match the pillars with your window frames.

What Is A Conservatory?

A conservatory is typically a fully glazed structure with a low brick base and a roof comprising more than 75% glass with walls which are a minimum of 50% glazed. These structures are built against the wall of a house, with a closing door and window and a separate heat source from the main building.

There is a grander look to orangeries, which incorporate brick or aluminum areas plus a brick base and a smaller glazed area.

Conservatories grew in popularity in the nineteenth century, but really took off from the 1970s and early 1980s onwards as they became accessible to homeowners in greater numbers with the development of uPVC frames.

The Key Differences Between Orangeries & Conservatories

While both building types clearly have a lot in common, and the differences between the two can be very subtle, there are nonetheless some key elements which set the two apart. These include:

  • The prevalence of brick in orangeries, while conservatories have greater glazed surface areas
  • An orangery is more closely associated with elegance and grandeur, so is typically more suited to period or bigger, ‘grander’ properties
  • Given its greater glazed surface area, a conservatory blurs the boundaries with the outside world more. While an orangery also lets natural light in, it can feel more like an extension due to the brick panels incorporated within the overall structure.

Differences In Performance Between Orangeries & Conservatories

Both of these home improvements perform well, not least with the advances in modern glazing in recent years. Nonetheless, there are some slight differences, such as:

  • A conservatory is harder to keep consistently warm in the winter and cooler in the summer, which is down to the extra glass involved – although modern technology tends to make this less of an issue
  • For its part, an orangery offers better insulation against whatever the British weather throws at it, being cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, due to its brick-based construction
  • An orangery also provides better insulation against intrusive noise than a conservatory, which has bigger glazed panels
  • When it comes to security performance, both do well, thanks to modern lock and safety technology
  • An orangery will typically be slightly more energy efficient due to its better climate-control features, potentially resulting in a better energy efficiency rating

Which Will Add More Value To A Property – A Conservatory Or An Orangery?

Both types of home extension can significantly add value to your home and provide what estate agents call ‘kerb appeal’, or the attractiveness of a property and its surroundings when seen from the street.

A conservatory adds on average between 5% and 12% to the value of a property. For an orangery, the value can be as much as for a full home extension, or from 5% and up to 15%.

Think carefully about the type of property you own before you settle on a conservatory or orangery. If you go for something which doesn’t really complement your particular home and its specific features, kerb appeal and/or value can sometimes be lost.

Which Would Be More Suitable For Me?

Orangeries tend to suit traditional homes which have a particular charm or unique design.

It’s also important to consider whether your home improvement will be at the expense of any precious garden space, especially if potentially selling up or adding value to the place are particular priorities, since losing garden space can cancel out any value an orangery or conservatory may add to your home. Conservatories generally offer a more contemporary style, with their fully glazed designs.

Meanwhile, orangeries are probably your best bet if you aim to create a permanent space.

In truth, it’s a highly personal decision and will depend on your current property, your budget, what you want to use the home improvement for, and how important it is to you to flood the space with natural daylight.

Looking To Extend Your Home?

If you’re looking to extend your property with a new conservatory or orangery, we at R&M Windows have a stunning selection of extensions from which you can take your pick. Based in Bracknell, we also cover other areas near us in Berkshire, including Maidenhead, Ascot, Windsor and Wokingham. Get in touch with us today for a no-charge, no-obligation chat – we never give anyone the hard sell. We’ll be happy to chat through some options, and can offer expert advice.