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What is an Orangery?

What is an orangery

A classic orangery design

What is an orangery,

is it the same as a conservatory?

Is an orangery a conservatory? Isn’t an orangery the same thing as a conservatory? – These are just a couple of questions that we get asked about quite often.

So, in order to clear up any confusion or doubt, we thought we would take the time in this article to expand upon:

  • What the differences are between an orangery and a conservatory.

  • The main features of a typical orangery.

  • The main features of a typical conservatory

  • A rough guide to how much an orangery costs.

Bespoke Kitchen Orangery Extension

Bespoke Orangery leading into kitchen

What are the origins of orangeries?

It is generally accepted that orangeries first appeared in Europe in the 1500’s (There is, for example, an orangery that was built in the year 1545 is in Italy), and were for the rather practical purpose of cultivating citrus fruits. So it follows that their name derives from people growing oranges and other varieties of citrus fruits in these types of buildings.

Over the next few hundred years, orangeries found favour in Britain and became more “residential” due to the adoption of the designs as some kind of status symbol for the more affluent in society at the time.

These days, orangeries are not just the “preserve” (pun intended – think about it!) of the wealthy and are seen in all types of homes across the UK.

As more of a true home extension than anything else, orangeries are not only an excellent way to add more living room to a property, they are virtually guaranteed to add desirability and considerable re-sale value.

This is one home improvement that has, for the money minded, an excellent potential ROI (Return On Investment) as a quality orangery has been known to add up to 10% to the value of a property – which can also be useful as a price guide to know if you are going to get value for money.

An Orangery

Orangery interior
An orangery has a flat roof with either a central or dual glass lantern. It features solid columns, pilasters and a deep detailed fascia that hides the rainwater gutters.

A Conservatory?

A conservatory is usually around 70% glass sides & roofing. The sides come all the way up to meet the edge of an angled roof. Solid walls, if included are low level.

What is the difference between an Orangery and a Conservatory?

What are the main features of a typical orangery?

If we are talking about classic styling, then just by looking at the structure of the extension, it is not very difficult to spot which one is which. All you need to do is check out 2 things:

  1. The roof type.

Orangery Roof Interior

Orangery Roof Interior & Walls

Orangeries will typically have a flat roof with a “parapet” (entablature) where the roofline meets the top of the walls. The parapet type roof edges will have secret roof gutters hidden within them and can often feature other elaborations such as fancy soffits or cornices.

In the centre of this flat roof there will be a glazed lantern section, or for a wide orangery there may even be two smaller lantern sections.

Conservatories always have angled or apexed roofing, no matter whether its glazed or tiled, that comes right to the edge of the vertical sides. There is no fascia, parapet or other design feature at the meeting point of the roof and walls (just gutters).

What you won’t typically see on a classic orangery design are the rainwater gutters. They run around the whole perimeter of the roof but are tucked away behind the deep fascia and soffit, you can call them “secret gutters”. This way the visual aspect of the meeting of the roofline and walls is not spoiled by unsightly brackets etc.

The other impact of the flat, mostly solid, roofing is on the inside. The interior ceilings are like that of a normal room and allow for the fixing of recessed or special lighting – you can’t do that with a fully glazed conservatory roof.

There is one other  noteworthy impact of using mainly solid roof and walls (which we think is more than compensated for by the overall aesthetic of an orangery), and that is the amount of natural light will be less than you would have in a glass conservatory.

  1. The walls of the room.

Orangeries make extensive use of columns which can often be made from brick. Pillars or pilasters also feature prominently in the orangery design. Pilasters themselves are not usually structural and are more for show, typically seen on corners or to the sides of a window or door.

Whilst a conservatory can feature solid walling, it is usually just a few courses of brickwork at the bottom of the sides and is known as a Dwarf Wall. Other than that, the sides of a conservatory are primarily fully glazed from top to bottom.

There is, however one type of conservatory that can blur the lines between the two and that is a Loggia conservatory. A Loggia, one of the more contemporary orangery designs, has features common to both orangeries & conservatories, in that you may see lots of pillars / pilasters but also full glass sides and an apexed roof.

In summary.

If the room has lots of solid columns, pillars and a flat roof with a glass lantern, it’s an orangery, If the room has full glass sides and an angled glass (or tile) roof, it’s a conservatory.

Orangeries are considered by many, including property valuers, to be a “proper home extension”.

What are the main features of a typical conservatory?

lean-to conservatory

Lean-to conservatory featuring extended brickwork

As mentioned beforehand, the biggest visual clues are the roof design and the wall design.

A conservatory will always have a sloping, angled or vaulted roof. It may be tiled in some instances, but the shape will remain the same.

The roof (tiles or glass) will always extend fully down to the side walls. Where the roof and walls meet the rainwater gutters will be fixed and visible, which is not the case with an orangery – the gutters are “secret” or hidden from view.

Conservatories occasionally might have some brickwork extending up to the roofline, but it’s probably to surround or support a window, as you can see in the Lean-to conservatory image on the right.

Other than that, solid walls are usually restricted to the building of what are commonly known as dwarf walls. These walls go up to a couple or three feet maximum.

The objective of a classic conservatory design is to maximise light, and to that end, you can see many examples of them with full length, floor to ceiling glazed sides.

What are the different types of orangeries?

Unlike conservatories, which can differ considerably in appearance, we are probably looking at individual styling differences rather than major structural changes, as an orangery will retain the same overall appearance (for example, such as a square Lean-to style compared to a rounded Victorian period conservatory).

Edwardian, Georgian, Regency or Victorian Orangeries

pilaster and entablature

Featured pilaster and entablature.

As with conservatories, you can find “period designs” for orangeries such as above.

Each one will have a particular look and feel to the room that is designed to reflect the character of orangeries that were fashionable during the reign of a particular monarch (King or Queen).

Victorian orangeries are likely to be very ornate, sometime featuring vertical sliding sash windows with mullions or “Georgian bars” instead of standard opening casement windows.

Georgian orangeries may also feature mullioned windows and fancy lines, and look similar in many ways to the Victorian style. The wide use of mullioned windows can however make this style look “too fussy” for some.

Whereas a Regency or Edwardian orangeries may be more “open” and use longer window sections that have plain undecorated glass – even feature more glazing in the design in general with little or no fancy decoration. This is in part due to how the design developed as almost a “protest” against the very fancy and highly ornate preceding Victorian style.

Any of these styles can also be impacted by the primary material used in the frames of the glazing or that which is used in the solid sections.

The solid pillars or panels need not be made from brick, block or stone, the whole orangery can be constructed from either uPVC, Timber. Engineered wood is also very popular to use because of its’ work-ability, stability and price.

Classic contemporary orangery interior

Classic contemporary orangery interior

How much does an orangery cost?

If you are smitten by the orangery style but have a limited budget, there are a few sources for a “supply only”, orangery with costs of around £9,000 in uPVC or circa £12,500 for timber.

“Supply only” could be an option however, there is a lot to think about in terms of other costs:

  • Construction labour– this will be a significant cost factor
  • Foundations – you can’t buy a “supply only” foundation!
  • Electricity supply – who is going to do the wiring?
  • Heating & Ventilation– you are going to need a plumber
  • Planning permission & building regulations – important elements for an orangery
  • Tidying up afterward – you could easily need the garden landscaped afterward
  • Guarantees & warranties – Who is offering and backing up any guarantees?

Having the work done by a professional company that specialises in orangeries and conservatories is our recommendation. You have only one point of contact for the work schedule, planning permission and they handle all the guarantees etc. Many will completely project manage the job from start to finish.

If you stick with a FENSA / CERTASS / GGF /DGCOS accredited company, then you get additional consumer protection benefits alongside the peace of mind that the team that are doing your job have been independently assessed as competent.

Whoever you choose to do the work, always take references from previous customers.

It is just common sense to realise that, as primarily a bespoke home extension, each orangery will be priced differently.

With so many alternatives to choose form in terms of overall appearance, materials, size and labour costs a table of accurate prices would be impossible to create. However, as a rough guide to the costs, you could expect to see prices in the range of:

  • £15,000 to £20,000 for a small to medium sized orangery
  • £20,000 to £30,000 for Oak orangeries
  • £35,000 and upwards for “high-end” bespoke orangeries

Even taking the upfront cost of building the extension into account is not quite all you have to think about spending. You also need to consider the cost of finishing touches, such as interior furnishings and decor.

Orangery TypePrimary Frame MaterialPrice Guide
Basic OrangeryTimber (pine)£12,000 to £15,000 upwards
SmallTimber (Idigbo or engineered wood)£15,000 to £20,000 upwards
MediumUPVC / Timber Hardwood£20,000 to £25,000 upwards
LargeUPVC /Timber Hardwood£25,000 to £50,000 upwards

If you want to review more conservatory or orangery info you can go back to our homepage.


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Frequently Asked Questons

Just a few basic orangery related Q & A’s
Do I need Planning Permission to build an orangery

If you keep withing the guidelines of permitted developments, then you may not need planning permission, but you do have to comply with building regulations.

How much does Planning Permission cost?

This will change from place to place, but you could expect a standard application to cost between £450 – £650.

check with your local authority – https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

How long does it take to build orangeries ?

That’s kind of like asking “how long is a piece of string”. It’s going to depend upon the size and complexity of the work. Foundations can take 3 to 5 days, structure can take 2-3  weeks, and finishing off another week or so.

For a medium size orangery, I would allow at least 4 to 6 weeks, start to finish.

a piece of string is twice as long as half its’ length.

Is under floor heating any good for an orangery?

Underfloor heating can be perfect for an orangery because it heats the room evenly and there are no radiators to get in the way of your furniture (or to paint every year!).

Its best fitted during the main construction and can be a wet (circulated water) or dry (electric cable) system.

Manufactured from high quality materials & installed by professionals

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  • GGF
Stephen James
Stephen has worked in home improvement for over 20 years and is an avid fan of all things to do with home refurbishment.