Designing the perfect room for the whole family

open plan timber orangery

As we continue to spend the majority of our time in our homes over the next few weeks and possibly months, many homeowners are assessing whether their property truly meets the demands of family life.

We may not be coming and going as we did previously, but families are using their homes in ways they never have before, with many households requiring multiple spaces to work from home, as well as additional space to entertain children of all ages. 

A glazed extension, such as an orangery or garden room, will be the heart of any home and the ultimate multifunctional space for the whole family to enjoy. With that in mind here are some of the key things to consider when designing the perfect family room. 

Family dining space

With the majority of the family spending all day at home, it’s likely the kitchen has never had to work as hard. And in fact, one of the most common uses of a glazed extension such as an orangery or garden room is for a kitchen. This is mainly due to the size of the space doubled with the ease of access to the garden for al fresco dining – weather permitting! 

Having various seating options available means the room can be flexible and accommodate the whole family for each meal, whether it’s a quick snack between Zoom calls or a more formal meal for everyone.

Where space allows, a breakfast bar within a kitchen island helps to create a social space to ensure the ‘chef’ has company whilst the finishing touches are made to a recipe. Ideally, the entire kitchen should be designed so that the chef is facing the room during food preparation, meaning they can interact with other family members, keep a beady eye on young children whilst also being able to enjoy the space around them. 

Large open plan kitchen extension with kitchen island

Some families choose to install several tables in their orangery kitchen. A formal dining room table that can seat a large dinner party is usually an important addition, as well as a smaller informal area, perhaps for kids’ tea, set against banquette seating. Homeowners also often add a bistro-style table and chairs in an area that catches the morning or evening sun, as a mid morning coffee stop or pre dinner G&T perch.

Appropriate workspace

With a large percentage of the population having to change their working habits and get used to working from home, there has never been such a demand for a home office. A smaller orangery or garden room is an ideal home office with research highlighting the positive impact nature has on productivity and mental health.

For those who don’t have a dedicated orangery workspace, the obvious beauty of multiple dinings areas within a kitchen as outlined above, is that they can double up as an ideal home office – especially during lockdown.

With some forethought, suitable cabinetry can be built to house unsightly office clutter and charging points and power sockets can be just in reach when needed. Both children and adults will still feel connected to family life but with space they can claim as their own, allowing parents to offer just the right amount of homework supervision to their offspring.

Entertainment centre

Aside from a place to prepare food and work, in most households the kitchen also needs to be suitable for entertaining. Young children will require space to roam and ideally be supervised in the garden and an older tech generation will need to know their multiple gadgets can be accessed freely. A glazed extension, generally suits this purpose well as the room becomes an extension of the outside space, meaning that even a small orangery feels more spacious than its dimensions might suggest.

A casual seating area or corner sofa is often popular amongst new orangery owners, complemented by a wall-mounted screen that can be tilted or swivelled allowing the TV to be seen from all zones of the room. Designing a seating area, with comfortable chairs or a sofa, separate from the dining table, means the room can double up as an additional living space – perfect for those occasions when family viewing preferences don’t align. For those who want to make a real statement, a purpose-built media centre will house everything including the TV, sound system, DVD players, games consoles, or anything else that a multi-generational household needs. 

Light and welcoming seating area inside orangery beneath large roof lantern

Using appropriate glazing, such as solar reflective glass, will ensure that no matter which screen is being used where, there will be no glare or hindrance to a task.

Storage storage storage!

There’s no such thing as too much storage, and this will soon become apparent when the whole family is spending every day at home. Not only will there be more food in the house requiring additional storage, but with most of the family working from home, there’s also the need to prevent the clutter of homework, laptops, documents and stationery building up on every surface. 

With its link to nature, an orangery is often a calming and peaceful room. However, if storage is not adequately considered, the room’s tranquility can be disrupted by the components and necessities of everyday life. 

Full height cabinetry that runs from the floor to the ceiling is a popular choice as it makes the most of the available space and as it creates a ‘false wall’ effect, is also discreet.

Use this time wisely

With the whole family at home during lockdown, it’s an ideal time to identify pressures in certain areas of a property, which spaces flow well and are conducive to specific activities and where there are areas of dead space that could be put to better use. 

Bathing the homeowner in natural light, a well designed orangery or garden room may be just the right space that allows family life to continue as normally as possible in these difficult times and beyond.