A guide to glazed extensions: what’s best for you?

An extension can give your home a new lease of life, completely transforming your property by adding space and reconfiguring the rooms into a new layout. We explore the three main types of glazed extension, and which one might be the right design for you and your home…

When it comes to improving your home with a renovation, light and space are a priority for most homeowners and a glazed extension will certainly provide you with plenty of additional floor space. Making changes to your home can be exciting, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the range of extension styles and designs available. 

Conservatory, orangery, or garden room?

Essentially, there are three main types of glazed extension to consider which are conservatories, orangeries, and garden rooms. Conservatories are predominantly constructed from glazing, built on a brick base. A quality orangery has semi-glazed walls with a roof lantern built on top of a flat roof and allows natural light to flood the open space without exposure to a lot of direct sunlight and heat. A garden room is similar to an orangery, but it has a fully tiled roof and usually has large, dramatic glazed gables that can make a real statement. Making a decision could be based on a number of factors, depending on the style and positioning of your home. 

Best for conservation areas and listed properties

If you live in a listed property or conservation area, you’ll want to be very careful and thoughtful when it comes to the design of your glazed extension. Both garden rooms and orangeries are perfectly suitable choices, providing that the design is working harmoniously with the heritage and proportions of your existing home. 

While period buildings can be wonderfully unique with characterful features, they can sometimes feel small or closed off inside. Designed and built in days gone by, they can often lack the natural flow that modern homes have. Your garden room or orangery extension could really help to connect the older, existing parts of your home by giving you a new room that feels bright and spacious, providing that the design blends in with the rest of the property. 

An orangery or garden room made from sustainable timber will create an elegant addition to your home that performs to modern day standards. Unlike aluminium or uPVC extensions, a timber orangery or garden room will look classic and timeless, adding definition to the joinery in a way that other materials simply cannot replicate. A wooden extension can be specifically designed to blend in with your existing dwelling, echoing subtleties from the original architecture in order to produce a classic design that will not date.

Best for matching the style of your house

Due to the nature of its design, a garden room is more likely to look like a part of your main building rather than a conservatory or orangery, with roof tiles, brickwork, windows, and other details matching those of the existing house – giving the impression that it has always been there.

The interiors should be reflective of your own personal interior tastes while still giving you an open-plan living space, so consider using the same flooring or wall colours throughout the new and existing rooms for a seamless look. A garden room also creates a smoother transition between your garden room and your outside space, with doors opening up onto the patio and plenty of windows giving year round views of the garden.  

Best for larger extensions

The use of the word ‘orangery’ in the context of contemporary glazed home extensions was first adopted by specialist timber framed manufacturers wishing to differentiate between the common, fully glazed ‘conservatory’. As popularity for the latter continued to grow during the 1990s, their inability to meet the increasingly onerous requirements of building regulations led to a handful of premium suppliers developing designs which still incorporated fully glazed elevations, but with glazed roofs inset from the edges and supported off a perimeter flat roof.

Unlike a conservatory, these new modern orangeries provided greater opportunities for improved levels of insulation and could be designed with larger floor plan dimensions without fear of the glazed roof becoming too large and domineering.

Garden rooms can also provide you with ample room for open-plan living, with the addition of grand, high ceilings with feature windows to draw the eye and give the illusion of even more space.

Best for replacing old conservatories

uPVC conservatories began to grow in popularity during the 80s, with homeowners adoring the freedom to sit and enjoy the garden while being sheltered from our rather volatile weather conditions. 

Unfortunately, most of them were designed without temperature control in mind, meaning they were likely to overheat. Conservatories gradually gained a reputation for feeling stuffy in the summer, and cold in the winter; homeowners realised that they were investing in extensions that went unused for much of the year. The uPVC would also turn an unsightly yellowish shade over time. 

Instead of feeling cold or stuffy, garden rooms or orangery extensions are comfortable and inviting throughout the seasons, feeling cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Electronically operated roof vents can be installed to help draw the warm air up and out, keeping the room well ventilated. 

What’s more, they can be designed with style and elegance in mind, meaning that you can replace your tired old conservatory with a beautiful structure that complements your day-to-day life. 

Best for south-facing homes

As they are predominantly made from glazing, conservatories can often reach temperatures as high as 40oC during the summer months. Unless you are a houseplant enthusiast, you might want to avoid having a conservatory and opt for an orangery or garden room instead, as they are designed to feel comfortable all year round while maximising on sunlight. 

If you are lucky enough to have a south-facing house, your extension will be exposed to more sunshine so it could be worth considering a garden room with a tiled roof, or an orangery with a smaller glazed roof lantern to minimise the sun exposure. It could also be hugely beneficial to use glazing with a solar reflective film, which will help to regulate the temperature and protect carpets and furniture from damaging ultraviolet rays that can cause colours to fade.