‘So pretty on the outside and yet so disappointing on the inside’ was how our valuation surveyor described our 1790s Georgian home. She was right, but we still bought it!
Whilst our home had incredibly pretty proportions on the outside, the interiors beyond the two main entertaining receptions weren’t a priority when it was built 200+ years ago. The cell-like network of rooms made modern family living fragmented. The garden, with only one door to get into it, wasn’t connected to the main body of the house which was not ideal for a family with three active kiddies. Our kitchen, which was a practical extension added in the Victorian times, was out on a limb in the north, dark and dreary side of the house. Not ideal for a mum obsessed with natural light.
As a family, we wanted to join up the rooms and create space for us to live and be together. But conscious of the Georgian heritage, with a house that’s been there far longer than we ever would be, we didn’t feel we had the right to mess with the original layout or features of the house either. After five years of deliberating and planning, installing an orangery across the back of our house sympathetically solved our conundrum – ticking all the boxes of creating flow, light, access to the garden, putting the kitchen at the heart of the house and most importantly creating space for us all to hang out.
Although the orangery design is much larger than we’d originally envisioned, in hindsight, its proportions work with the scale of the house, enabling us to retain the ever important Georgian feeling. We had an idea in mind for the style of orangery and windows saved onto a Pinterest board which we showed to Jonathan at Westbury and he was able to help plan a similar design to suit to the needs of the room, with concealed air vents and joints in keeping with the Georgian character.
Because we were so pleased with Westbury’s attention to detail and ability to crack the proportions of the orangery, we also asked them to craft us a collection of full-length Georgian style windows and three sets of French doors for other areas of our home.
In addition to the enormous windows and doors, we have a glazed roof complete with two gorgeous lanterns. This volume of glazing invites a flood of stunning natural light into the room and creates a harmony between the house and the garden.
With such a vast expanse of glazing, we’re pleasantly surprised at just how energy efficient it is for us to use the orangery – especially given the amount of time that we spend in the room. We have underfloor heating to set the base temperature and a log burner nestled in the seating area, and the high-tech glass does a fantastic job of keeping the warmth in.
We absolutely love sitting in this room cosying around the relaxing warmth of log burner and yet feeling completely connected to our garden. The views helped us to realise the true potential of our garden, so much so that we decided to completely overhaul and redesign our outdoor space so that it can be fully appreciated and enjoyed all year round from all angles in the orangery.
Day to day, everyone seems to gravitate toward the extension, it is the bright happy space that unites us all. We chose to decorate the space with neutral colours and use accessories to brighten it up. Plenty of eBay finds have added more fun and means we’re not precious about the kiddies tumbling over the furniture (or even playing football!) – meaning everyone gets to enjoy it. In keeping with the relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere is my favourite feature, a handmade scaffold board table my brother designed which can seat up to fourteen people for dinner and drinks. It’s ideal for Christmas and homework alike.
The extension has created so much additional space in the downstairs of our home that we have been able to transform the existing rooms of the house into more useful spaces. We played up to the darkness of the old kitchen, painting it dark blue and created our own family cinema room; the old living room has become a cosy snug, ideal for relaxing with a book and a cup of tea; the dining room has become a study and another one of the former reception rooms works perfectly as a boot room for storing the ever-multiplying coats, shoes, and sports bags
The final result of our orangery is far better than I could have ever imagined – everyone loves it.. in fact, it’s more than just a room, it’s completely transformed the way we use our home. I’m so glad that we appointed Westbury to undertake the project and I’m frequently recommending others to do the same. Both the design and execution were carried out in a professional manner and the team was an absolute pleasure to work with at every step of the way.