A garden room is a great way to add space to your home. The best conservatories are bathed in natural light and, being a bridge to the outside space, can be a quiet sanctuary all year round. Here’s how to give your glass room a new lease of life.
Whether you use a conservatory as a dining space, extra living room, study or play-room, the first port of call for interior inspiration should be the great outdoors. Typically sunny rooms, they often look out on to the garden, and by incorporating natural colours, textures and a touch of botanicals, you can achieve a seamless outdoor look.
Kasia Wiktorowicz, marketing communications manager at Valspar Paints, suggests using a palette of green to bring the outside in. “The natural world offers the perfect setting to relax, escape and restore the senses,” she says. “With lifestyles becoming increasingly busy, this trend transforms interiors into fresh and vibrant spaces to revitalise the mind, body and soul.”
You can also reference the natural world by using fabrics and prints that are bursting with flowers, ferns and wildlife. Sofa Workshop’s Petite Marguerite Chair upholstered in Osborne & Little’s vibrant Tulipan fabric will make a pretty statement piece, while Anna Jacobs’ new Falling Leaves range of lamps, pillows and artwork are inspired by the changing seasons, and will add pops of colour in an otherwise pared-back scheme.
From Ross & Brown’s fern and leaf prints to Yonder Living’s ceramic succulents, incorporating the world of nature need not be overblown or fussy. Keep the look clean and streamlined so the space does not feel cluttered or dated. Talking of which, incorporate modern storage – such as sideboards, chests, and quirky cabinets – to keep your conservatory stylish and tidy.
THE PERFECT HIDEAWAYS
The top three cabinets to clear conservatory clutter
Restored antique Floral Sideboard, £1545, from Shimu
Grand Oak Chest, £1,049, from Indigo Furniture
Dolls House Cabinet, £2,395, from Andrew Martin
Light-filled garden rooms are, of course, wonderful for doubling up as dining areas and entertaining spaces. Source natural wood tables and chairs from Willis and Gambier, and offset a dressed table with Oggetto’s low-hanging fish-trap pendant lights, handmade from bamboo in Indonesia. Adding in a statement piece of furniture, such as Artisanna’s velvet chairs, will also update the feel of the room and make it even more appealing for cosy nights in.
Jessica Pownall, director at Artisanna London, gives her advice on conservatory style:“Consider your conservatory as an extension of your garden as well as your home. Whether it’s a place to relax or entertain, when dressing a conservatory, keep things simple and uncluttered to maximise the light and airy atmosphere but use soft furnishings or interesting floor-coverings with bursts of colour and texture to bring warmth to the space. Incorporating a bit of the outside in by including greenery and colourful potted plants will bring any room to life.”
Dress shelves and sideboards with clusters of interesting pots and basketS
Wooden Planter, £32, from A New Tribe
Brass Planters, £38 for two, from Nisi Living
Pink Hexagon Planter, £21.80, Made + Good
Conservatories, of course, first became all the rage in the Victorian era, when glasshouses were constructed in many wealthy homes to reflect a new-found love of all things botanical. Giving a nod to this heritage is Violet Grey’s distressed metal 19th-century range of elaborate dining tables, bistro sets and jardinieres as well as Castrad’s vintage metal radiators.
Jayson Branch, creative director of Castrads, comments: “Incorporating natural materials – like wood, stone, bamboo, rattan, and metal – can lift a room and add interesting texture while allowing you to create your own personal style. Not only are these materials aesthetically pleasing and can add drama to a room, but they’re durable and age gracefully over time.”
You can also add a touch of Victoriana by decorating small areas with modern floral wallpapers, such as Farrow & Ball’s Atacama and Hegemone prints, and historic-style accessories, such as those from Andrew Martin’s collaboration with the National Gallery.
Andrew Martin’s, design director, David Harris, says:“Andrew Martin is known for its multi-cultural easy living style. Our latest collaboration with the National Gallery has resulted in a collection of fabrics, accessories and wallcoverings. My favourite is the Whistlejacket cushion, featuring George Stubb’s famous Whistlejacket horse set against colourful backgrounds with smart velvet piping. Stubb’s huge picture was originally painted in 1762 for the Second Marquess of Rockingham, Whistlejacket’s owner and a great patron of Stubbs. It brings a sense of grandeur and past referencing to the home.”
Meanwhile, keeping things practical, is the flooring you choose. Gemini Tiles’ range of feature tiling – such as the Cuban Silver finish – is perhaps best suited to garden rooms, due to traffic in and out of the garden, while Brintons suggests that carpet should also be considered.
Natalie Littlehales, marketing manager at the company, says:“The texture of carpet adds another dimension to a room, as well as offering luxurious comfort underfoot and acting as a great insulator to keep your conservatory temperature regulated. The popularity of grey carpets is growing as not only are they ideal for high traffic areas as they conceal dirt and marks, but they also add character to a room.”
With floor-to-ceiling windows giving an abundance of glass, soft furnishings are also an important consideration. Blinds in a range of natural prints from iLiv continue the outdoors theme, while the pleated versions from Apollo Blinds, give a slick finish.
Finally, offering a motorised system, that allows multiple blinds to be operated via a smart phone, tablet or remote control, Duette window coverings are ideal for those conservatories where roof blinds and windows can be hard to reach.
“A conservatory is one of the most aesthetically pleasing rooms within a home in summertime, with natural light in abundance and beautiful uninterrupted views of the outdoors,” says Kirsty Hunt spokesperson for Duette.“However, the combination of expanses of glass with sunshine pouring in and high temperatures can make this room uncomfortably warm. Duette blinds can cut heating bills in the winter by up to 25%, and also shrink electricity bills in summer by reducing the need for costly electric fans or air conditioning units. By keeping the temperature constant, despite the season, they can make the conservatory what it should be – a cosy extra room in the house that you can use all year round.”
MY TOP TEN PICKS OF CONSERVATORY ACCESSORIES
Falling Leaves In Winter Lamp, £199, annajacobsart.com
Fish Trap Pendant Light, from £60, oggetto.com
Tarifa Rattan Chair, £175, nisiliving.co.uk
Totem Candles, from £14, anewtribe.co.uk
Ceramic Dahlia Succulent, £26, yonderliving.com
Musa Botanical Art Print, from £42, rossandbrownhome.co.uk
Marbled Ceramic Planter, £15, room356.co.uk
Dakara Seagrass Basket, £36, ellajames.co.uk
National Gallery Whistlejacket Orange Cushion, £75, andrewmartin.co.uk
Aldsworth Shelf Ladder, £165, graceandgrey.co.uk
This article was also published in the July issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine