With their brickwork, glazing and stunning roof lanterns, orangeries add style, living space and natural light to any home, making them perfect for entertaining. Could an orangery be the ideal option for your family home? Here’s a quick guide to help you decide.
A brief history of orangeries
Orangeries date back to the Renaissance gardens of 16th century Italy, where they embodied classical principles of symmetry and style. By the 17th century, wealthy British families living in grand period homes had adopted them in order to grow citrus trees throughout the winter.
You’ll now find a wide variety of orangeries in British gardens, as they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years, If you decide to invest in one, we recommend choosing a style that’s sympathetic to the period and architecture of your property. Matching materials, brickwork, frame styles and paint finishes will ensure that the finished orangery blends in.
How do orangeries differ from conservatories?
While orangeries and conservatories share some things in common, the semi-solid structure of orangeries gives them a more permanent feel. Most orangeries feature a brick built base, a flat roof perimeter and a central roof lantern that floods the room with natural light. The roof perimeter is normally supported by brick or wooden pillars.
Like conservatories, orangeries feature large amounts of glazing and doors which open onto a garden. However, because the internal ceiling of an orangery is normally plastered with light fittings, it tends to feel more like a natural continuation of the original house. External grade doors are sometimes fitted to separate an orangery from an existing building.
What kind of materials are used for the frame?
- Timber – if it’s painted and treated this requires no maintenance for ten years. Oak framed orangeries perfectly complement period homes.
- Aluminium – this can be powder coated in any colour to keep it maintenance free. It can also include thermal breaks to prevent heat loss.
- Composite – this benefits from a low maintenance aluminium exterior and a warm wood interior.
- uPVC frames – these are affordable and maintenance free but not suitable for period homes. They can also be bulky.
How can you keep your orangery comfortable?
Keeping your orangery comfortable all year round depends on achieving the ideal combination of glazing, heating and ventilation. You’ll definitely want to invest in double or triple glazing and it’s also worth opting for low emissivity glass. This features a special coating which reflects heat and a gas-filled cavity that reduces heat transfer. Orangery glazing should always be toughened in order to increase security.
As far as heating is concerned, we recommend underfloor heating or a cosy wood burning stove. You’ll also need to think about ventilation. Options include opening panels in the roof, automatically controlled vents, trickle vents or a mechanical fan.
What about planning permission and building regulations?
Because it’s likely to be considered a permitted development, you shouldn’t need planning permission for your orangery. However, there are a few rules to be followed. To start with, the orangery must cover less than half the land around your house. It must also be lower than the highest part of your roof and it can’t extend beyond the rear wall of your house by over four metres (six metres for a detached property).
There is one exception. If you happen to live in a conservation area, you may need to apply for planning permission. If you do, it’s worth bearing in mind that planning permission is more likely to be granted if you build your orangery at the rear of your home. The orangery will also need to be sympathetically designed to reflect the style and period of the existing property.
Are you planning to close your new orangery off from the rest of the home? Then we recommend using an external grade door, as this should result in exemption from building regulations. If you’re not including a door, the orangery’s thermal insulation, foundations and structural integrity will need to achieve compliance. Check with your builder for more information.
We hope our mini guide has shown you how orangeries can add space, elegance and light to any home. And if we’ve inspired you to start planning your own orangery, we’d love to know!