A classic open-plan orangery in Essex
In a 1930’s residence in the quaint seaside town of Southend in Essex, the Westbury designers used innovative planning to reconfigure the layout of previously cramped and awkward interiors.
Originally, this 1930’s family home featured a boxy, redbrick garden room which was rather underwhelming and didn’t visually blend in with the rest of the house. It was far too small, and the proportions didn’t complement the main building’s structural features. On the other side of the house, the open-plan kitchen was generously sized, but its long, rectangular layout was poorly suited to the family’s needs. Worktop space was minimal, ceilings were low, and the room wasn’t ideal for entertaining, either. The small garden room created a closed-off patio area outside, which felt cramped and unwelcoming. Most of the day, the sun was blocked by the extension’s sides – meaning that the family didn’t use their outdoor dining space very often.
The homeowners had been considering a change for some time and visited the Westbury showrooms to see if a bespoke timber extension was the right option for them. Indeed, after seeing the level of craftsmanship and quality for themselves, they booked us in for a site survey. It wasn’t long before we showed them concept illustrations of a welcoming, open-plan orangery with a large roof lantern, which they loved.
Their new, enviably elegant timber orangery is perfectly proportioned; timeless in style and exceptional in design with plenty of space for family living. After the old garden room was demolished and the existing snug wall was removed to make a new entrance to the utility room. We created a big structural opening for the Humphrey Munson kitchen to make one large, multi-functional space. Now, the family can enjoy an expansive living area that is split into different zones. On one end of the orangery is a comfortable seating area, adjacent to a beautiful dining space that offers lovely views out to the garden. Opposite is the kitchen, which now has a definitive sense of flow and a central island that provides masses of storage.
The room now gets a considerable amount of sunlight, streaming through the roof lantern. The beautiful Casement windows are made with a traditional flush appearance and no visible V joints. Two windows can be opened to help with ventilation with concealed espagnolette type fasteners and locking lever handles. The oversized internal window cills are sturdy and solid, and aesthetically suit the timber joinery’s proportions. One pair of internal, glazed double doors open outwards into the living room, and two single glazed doors lead to the utility room and the hallway.
It’s the magnificent roof lantern that takes centre stage and draws the eye as soon as you walk into the room. It has all the fine detailing and character one might expect from expertly crafted joinery with decorative ogee moulding. The external ball finials are made from solid resin, meaning that they will not split or crack due to water ingress. We use Accoya® for our engineered timber’s outer layer, which is a solid and sturdy material. Accoya is made from fast-growing, sustainable FSC® or PEFC™ Radiata pine and is carbon neutral across its entire life cycle. As it will not shrink or swell, the joints, panes and frames will keep their perfect fit. Typically, moving and expanding timber will eventually crack, which lets in water and causes rot; however, an Accoya® garden room is likely to have a lifespan of 50 years or more.
Overheating is never a problem; two triple roof vents pull warm air up and out of the room, which takes care of ventilation and is electrically operated with auto controls, including rain sensor and thermostatic control. In the colder months, the room is kept warm with underfloor heating.
The doors and windows were all fitted with high insulating, 4-20-4mm toughened glass units with Low-E coating to the inner leaf. The glass in the roof lantern was laid on a unique glazing gasket, fixed down and sealed with aluminium capping. It incorporates neoprene offset rubber gaskets and stainless-steel screws, thus making the roof maintenance free.
All joinery was spray-applied with three coats of water-based microporous paint in our workshops, to result in an immaculate finish. We use Teknos paint systems, which acts as a barrier when dried and protects the joinery from weather exposure, high UV levels and fungal damage. The final coats of paint are applied, if necessary, on-site at joints, junctions, and fixings. The external joinery requires minimal maintenance; providing the surfaces are given a gentle wash down with soapy water twice a year, they will stay smooth and crack-free for up to 12 years before they need repainting. For this project, the internal and external joinery has been painted in New Salt Stone, and Satin Nickel Ironmongery finishes off the look.