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Planning a conservatory – style and sizing

Fancy adding a conservatory or an orangery extension to your home? There are several things to consider before we start:

Purpose – How will you want to use the new room?

Plum Pudding evening

If it’s going to be a dining room for example, then it’ll need to be large enough for your dining table and for people to be able to circulate. For any given size, a square or rectangular plan will maximise the internal space available. Consider where the doors will be, and how their placement will affect both the internal usable space and the aesthetics of the building.

Size of the existing building – applying the golden ratio:

From the ancient Greeks to Le Corbusier and beyond, architects have used the golden ratio to give a sense of visual harmony to the proportions of their designs.

The golden ratio is defined as a ratio of 1.618:1. A golden rectangle is one where the ratio of its shorter sides to its longer sides follows these proportions, e.g. if the shorter side is 1 metre then the longer side will be 1.618 metres. This ratio is often found in nature and has fascinated artists, architects and mathematicians for millennia. Some philosophers argue that humans are ‘hard wired’ to find these proportions attractive.

Golden Rectangle proportions

Notice how the rectangle can be divided into a square and another rectangle. The proportions of the smaller rectangle approximate to 1.9 m x 3.1 m. 1.9 / 3.1 = 0.613. If exact measurements had been used instead of rounding to one decimal place, this figure would be 0.618, i.e. a golden rectangle contains a square plus another golden rectangle!

If the back of your house is 8.5 metres in width, applying the golden ratio would give an aesthetically ideal conservatory width of 5.25 metres. We could apply the golden ratio again to give an ‘ideal’ aesthetic depth for this conservatory of 3.25 metres. These dimensions don’t need to be exact for the effect to work! In practise, ratios between 1.5:1 and 1.7:1 should give pleasing proportions.

How much garden space is available?

The conservatory should not be so large as to overwhelm the garden. One of the delights of having a conservatory is that it lets you enjoy your garden in all weathers. Retaining a view across a green space is important to maintaining good health and well-being (e.g. Ulrich, 1983).

Edwardian low eaves_Beesley

Style of the new conservatory or orangery:

Should you choose a traditional conservatory design, a contemporary design or a luxurious orangery? Your choice will be influenced by the type of building to which the extension will be attached and by its orientation. A Victorian style conservatory might look best against a house that is itself Victorian or older – but consider if an attractive contrast between old and new would be achieved through a more contemporary design.

If the existing building is single storey then consider a reverse lean-to design, or an Edwardian style conservatory with a double-hipped roof, or a lantern roofed orangery. At least one of these styles is likely to fit under the eaves of the existing roof and give you what you need from an extension.

GR strip header conservatory styles Admiral Windows Oxford


If the conservatory will receive lots of light (e.g. when it is a south-facing conservatory), a solid roof will keep the space cooler in summer and warmer in winter – but be careful to not deprive adjoining rooms of light! It might be that a combination of solid roof with areas of roof glazing would provide the ideal balance.

Ultraframe LivinROOF_0000407

LivinROOF hybrid roof system. (Image: Ultraframe)

Let’s begin!

Successful conservatory design is often about balancing several competing factors. Admiral Windows will work within your budget and needs to achieve the best possible design for you and for your home.

Call 01865 788333 to book a no-obligation consultation – or why not come and visit our conservatory show site at Chilton? We can show you examples of various conservatory styles and hardware options, and we’re always happy to chat. We’re located within the Wyevale Garden Centre, just off the Chilton exits from the A34 between Oxford and Newbury.

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