Difference between Conservatory and Orangery
Extensions of any kind can transform the way you live and add value to your property should you come to sell it in the future. If you’re considering adding a new space to your home, you may be currently weighing up the pros and cons of conservatories and orangeries – or perhaps wondering what the difference between them is in the first place!
The first orangeries were a feature of Renaissance gardens in Italy. Confusingly, these early models were actually more similar to modern day conservatories in appearance, and they were not extensions of the home, but structures in their own right.
During the 17th century, their popularity spread across Europe. They were used to house delicate and exotic plants that were brought back from overseas expeditions. Orange and other citrus trees were often kept in them, as they needed shelter from the harsher northern European winters. Their name derives from this early usage.
At this time, glass was an expensive commodity, meaning that orangeries were only seen in the gardens of the wealthy. This quickly led to them becoming a status symbol. As technology developed, underfloor heating pipes began to be installed, which was not only good for the plants, but resulted in the spaces being used to entertain guests.
In the 19th century, the import of fruit became a larger industry, leading to lower prices and so there was less need for individuals to grow their own. Although the need for their original purpose declined, orangeries actually became more and more popular. Architects saw the opportunity to turn them into spaces designed for socialising, and so began to incorporate them into homes themselves, rather than being a standalone feature.
The industrial revolution meant that the production of glass increased. This resulted in lower prices, making orangeries more accessible to the wider population. The amount of glass used is a key difference between an orangery and a conservatory, and the availability of this material led to the creation of conservatories.
The typical way to distinguish between an orangery and conservatory is to look at the percentage of the structure that is glass. Orangeries usually have a roof that is less than 75% glass, with a ‘lantern’ allowing light in, while the roof of a conservatory is more than 75%. Orangery walls are less than 50% glass, while conservatories are over 50%. Due to there being more brickwork, you could think of an orangery as a mix between a conservatory and a single-storey extension.
However, in some cases, these differences have become minimal and sometimes overlap. This is because we can now create beautiful, bespoke structures, tailored exactly to your specification.