If you are planning to build a conservatory, one of your first decisions will be about the style of the conservatory. There are several different styles in use today, each one available with a variety of different frames, bases and glazing; which gives you an almost limitless choice.
The style of conservatory is an important decision, because it will impact on how the finished building is used and enjoyed. The style will have an immediate effect on the aesthetics of the property and can enhance the look of your house if done well. A badly installed conservatory could adversely affect the appearance and even the value of your home.
The style and shape of the extension can also affect the amount of floor space and the comfort factor within the conservatory. If you already have a clear idea of how the conservatory will look when it is finished, the style of the building may be pivotal to your overall design.
What is the Victorian style?
When the Victorians first built conservatories they were designed for growing tropical plants. Today, the Victorian conservatory is made with modern materials and designed to reflect the architecture of the period. The typical design has a three-faceted frontage which resembles the traditional bay window, although larger conservatories may have five or even seven facets to maintain the practicality of the inside space.
The Victorian conservatory has more gentle architectural lines than a typical modern structure and the roof structure is more complex due to the faceted front.
The Victorian style is the most intricate and ornate of designs; Edwardian and Georgian conservatories tend to have a much more geometric shape, but the bay frontage of the Victorian design gives more floor space. The framework of the conservatory is often decorated with ornate carvings and designs to reflect further the styles and designs of the period.
The determining factor of what makes a Victorian style conservatory is the shape, but the materials and the structure can vary considerably. uPVC or hardwood can be used for the frames of the conservatory, and both have an appealing look. The most important factor to consider is how the frames will suit the rest of your house when the conservatory is finished.
If you already have uPVC windows then uPVC frames on the conservatory will probably look better, although wooden frames are often more desirable in this style, as they help to give the feeling of the period. If you live in a very old property, wood will be more sympathetic to the house, if you happen to live on a designated area of land, it may be your only option.
The base of the conservatory can be made up of a dwarf wall, of uPVC or wooden panels, or you could go for full length glass. The choice is likely to come down to personal preference, as each design has its own merits.
When the Victorians first built their conservatories, they were glazed with a single pane of glass. Nowadays, all the glass in a conservatory will be double glazed and the choice of glass and roofing system can have a large bearing on the comfort factor within the room when it is in use.
Although the roof of a Victorian conservatory is more intricate than other styles, most roofing systems are available for use, as are all the different types of double glazing for the windows.
The more effective the roof and windows are at insulating the conservatory and controlling heat and light from the sun, the more enjoyable the conservatory will be to use and the cheaper it will be to heat during winter.
The exterior of a Victorian conservatory is typically finished with ornate detail, there are many ways of styling the interior to continue the period theme. By filling the room with plenty of different plants you reflect the original function of the Victorian conservatory, which was to nurture exotic plants.
Carved wood ornaments or decorative carving on furniture continue the style of the exterior and are in-keeping with the Victorian’s love of carved woodwork. Oriental patterned rugs and long flowing curtains will add to the ambience, a window seat in the bay frontage of the conservatory will finish the look.
Due to their complex shape and ornate designs, traditional style conservatories tend to be more expensive than more modern conservatories. While a basic conservatory could cost in the region of £500 per square metre, a conservatory of traditional design could cost £750-£1000 or more per square metre. An average size Victorian conservatory bought as a kit could range from £3000-£5000, you may be able to save money by buying it and paying a contractor separately for the installation.
It is worth taking quotes from several local companies for the supply and installation as well as the installation only; be sure to check each companies credentials before making a final decision.
The Victorian conservatory is one of the most striking designs of conservatory; it can add real charm to a property. They usually have three faceted fronts, but larger conservatories can have five or seven facets to maintain the shape and the practicality of the inside space. The distinctive design gives the conservatory a softer architecture, and an attractive appearance.
Although the Victorians initially built basic single glazed conservatories to grow exotic plants and lengthen the growing season, the modern Victorian conservatory is designed to reflect architecture of the period rather than to emulate the original design.
They are more expensive than standard modern conservatories due the shape and the detailed finish, but they do offer more floor space with the large bay frontage.
The Victorian conservatory may not suit every property and may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you have a period property it may be the most sympathetic design to the overall appearance of the house.