Greenhouse vs conservatory: which one should you choose?
Seeking extra space in which to relax and entertain, or searching for practical yet attractive places for your seedlings and tender plants? Look no further...
As the sunny months arrive, our attention inevitably turns to garnering as much sunshine as possible, both inside and out. If you’ve been wondering about adding a conservatory or a greenhouse, it’s worth spending some time pinning down exactly what your individual requirements are. Do you want somewhere to relax on those warm summer evenings, or do you want a multi-purpose area for potting plants and entertaining?
If you're unsure whether you should invest in a conservatory or a greenhouse, we've spoken to the experts to find out everything you need to consider, plus we've found a few of our favourite conservatories and greenhouses to help you feel inspired.
Greenhouse or conservatory: what is right for my garden?
Will it add value?
As an extra room attached to the house, or a space that transforms and opens up access to the garden, a good-quality conservatory will certainly add value to your property, perhaps in the region of 5 per cent. Although the same potential is not always as obvious for a greenhouse, a well-loved garden with a shed, garage or greenhouse is undoubtedly an asset.
And a greenhouse can be more than just a growing space – a retreat, hideaway, office or studio – the list is endless. Increasingly, people are planning their greenhouses with seating or dining areas, including lighting, fridges and wifi, as well as patio areas.
How will you use the space?
Whichever you are building, the first step is always the most important. Never rush it! You have to live with it, so take time to get it right. Always think carefully about the space you have in mind at the end of the project. What do you want to use it for? Which will work better for you, greenhouse or conservatory?
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Where will you place it?
Location is an important consideration when choosing a greenhouse. Ideally, you’d like the ridge running east/west so that you can shade the southerly roof and get good light levels. Think about how much sun the greenhouse will get – shading is possibly the most useful extra accessory if you are in a really sunny spot.
Will you need planning permission?
Your conservatory will be bound by planning regulations, which are based on the footprint of your house. Make sure you are making full use of the available space you can create. Conservatories and good-quality glass structures that are sympathetic to their surroundings are typically seen as favourable extensions to your home by planning authorities and conservation officers, as they provide a transparent structure from which the original property can still be seen.
Most reputable manufacturers offer a planning service and will submit all the relevant paperwork on your behalf.To help ensure success for your planning application, it is important that the style and look of the conservatory you want to build is an elegant and beautiful design in its own right. It is also vital that the design is proportionate and in scale, while complementing the main house. It should neither compete nor distract from the character of the house and must remain subservient to the main property.
How do you want it to look?
Colour choice is also a key consideration. Both traditional, period colours, and more contemporary shades of grey or bronze are usually well received by planning officers. People often think a conservatory should be the same colour as the windows in the house, which is why, historically, so many conservatories are white.
Yet matching your structure to the colour of the building, or the landscape beyond, can be far more effective. If you choose soft green shades for the frame of your conservatory, you will find the eye is drawn past the frame to the garden beyond, rather than being distracted by the harsher contrast of a white frame. Darker greys are also great subtle colour choices.
6 conservatories we love
This bespoke conservatory is made from timbers chosen specifically for their durability, and the gorgeous green colour helps the addition to blend into the natural surroundings.
Buy a bespoke conservatory from David Salisbury
For something more contemporary, why not go for something colourful? This pale blue colour looks lovely against the greenery of the garden, and the colour can easily be changed!
For something more traditional, this hand-painted garden room has created a bonus space in an unused part of the garden, and the half-brick wall creates cohesion with the existing building.
Buy a traditional-style conservatory from The Oakfields Group
When it comes to period properties, such as townhouses and Victorian terraces, the houses tend to be a lot narrower, meaning there is less space to expand to. This small lean-to conservatory is an ideal solution to make the most of the smaller space available.
Pitched roof conservatory
Inspired by the Victorians, a pitched roof allows maximum light to filter through. And with glazed windows and roof, you'll be spoilt to panoramic view of your garden.
Buy a pitched roof conservatory from Westbury Garden Rooms
Oak timber conservatory
For a conservatory that perfectly blends in with the natural surroundings, an oak timber is a charming solution whilst offering a traditional aesthetic.
Buy an oak timber conservatory from Prime Oak
6 greenhouses we love
Go dark for your greenhouse
Why not be bold and go for a darker colour greenhouse? The black colourway of this Croft 2 greenhouse would make a smart addition to your garden.
You can't go wrong with a traditional-style greenhouse! This is a great option if you have specific needs and requirements for your greenhouse.
No one does greenhouses like the Victorians! This Victorian-style Rosemary glasshouse offers greater flexibility for your planting due to the larger width and automatic ventilation.
National Trust greenhouse
For something truly authentic, this Hidcote greenhouse from Alitex's National Trust collection is the most compact of the collection, but offers ample growing space.
Glass house with a canopy
A greenhouse can easily be a multi-function space, especially this one from Harley Botanic. The attached canopy creates a real social space and helps to unite the garden and glasshouse together!
Much like conservatories, you can also opt for a lean-to greenhouse. Whether you have a brick wall in your garden, or simply want to attach it to the side of your home, this is a great option if you want your greenhouse to look like its part of the property!