What’s the Difference Between an Orangery and a Conservatory?

What’s the Difference Between an Orangery and a Conservatory?

Date Posted

10th August 2017


conservatories news windows


If you’re planning to have an extension build for your property, then the first thing you need to consider is the type of structure you would like. The two main varieties of glass extension are the traditional conservatory and the orangery – and while there’s a lot of confusion over exactly what the differences are, there are clear differences between the two structures.

What is An Orangery?


Orangeries can be traced back to the 15th and 16th century, when Italian nobles used Roman-inspired structures to allow them to grow citrus trees in cooler climates. They used large walls and a barrier of hardy plants to protect the fragile trees, and later innovations added glass to trap heat, to help the fruits thrive.

Orangeries usually feature solid brick pillars and large glazed windows. They have stone or brick bases, and a lantern roof. The appearance is quite distinctive, and they are well insulated. Traditionally, they would have fewer or smaller windows on the north-facing side.

What is a Conservatory?

Traditional Edwardian conservatory in PVCu

Conservatories are another type of structure formed primarily of glass, however unlike an orangery, a conservatory has a glass roof and glass walls. Modern conservatories have insulated glazing, which means that they can be comfortable even in the cooler months. While they were originally intended to allow people to grow tender plants year-round, they are now popular among homeowners as a place for relaxation and entertaining.

When Does a Conservatory Become an Orangery?

One of the key differences between a conservatory and an orangery is the roof. A conservatory usually has around 75% glazing on the roof, while an orangery tends to have a standard roof with a glazed parapet. However, there are now modern structures that act as a hybrid between the two.

As a general rule, an orangery:

  • Features brick pillars
  • Contains less glass than a conservatory
  • Has a parapet
  • Is an extravagant extension to the home

Meanwhile, a conservatory is a structure that is primarily made of glass, and tends to be more of a “mid-point” – a buffer between the home and the garden.

The above are some general rules – and not every structure is the same. There are exceptions where people design orangeries with lean-to roofs, or roof lanterns with different shapes that help to add stability to the structure and make it easier to integrate with the rest of the house.

Conservatories too can differ in height and in set-up. The planning permission rules for designing a conservatory vary slightly to the rules for full extensions, and sometimes necessitate that the conservatory is lower than the rest of the property, or only a certain size in order to allow the conservatory to be constructed without the need for an extensive planning application.

If you’re considering having a glass extension added to your property, ask the contractor whether you will need planning permission and whether this is something that they will help you with. Make sure you understand the rules before you start work.

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