In Victorian times, a conservatory was a miniature version of the kind of glass houses found at Kew Gardens, with intricate ironwork, while the larger orangery was more likely to be used for growing exotic fruit trees.
When conservatories caught on, they tended to be too hot in summer and too cold in winter – energy-inefficient and prone to damp. But the new kind of orangery is an architect-designed, glass-sided extension, often cube-like with floor-to-ceiling glass and a blurring of indoor and outdoor space.
“You can use them all year round as a flexible living space,” says Middleton’s Tom Hudson in the article by the Telegraph’s Anny Tyzack. “One of the most successful examples i’ve seen recently has a fireplace, desk and bookshelves. A cosy study with views over the garden.”
The Duchess of Cambridge apparently spent £300,000 on a grand, light-filled room, while the Duchess of Sussex installed an orangery to link separate parts of the house and flood the building with light. But the new style of conservatory doesn’t have to be contemporary to add value to a property according to Tom Hudson. “If you are left with another usable reception room, then it will be a worthwhile investment,” he says. If they’re poorly designed or in the wrong position, however, you could be wasting your money.
While it’s advisable to involve an architect if you’re planning to extend your property with an orangery, you won’t necessarily require planning permission. The general rule is that if you have a door from the main house then you won’t require permission, but if you open up a wall you will. Listed buildings of course have their own rules.