What is an orangery?


What is an orangery?

This is a question we are commonly asked. In recent years the orangery has begun to overtake the conservatory in popularity as the means for expanding the living space in the home.

The term ‘orangery’ has become a very popular word to describe a wide range of glazed structures which are usually very different from the classical orangeries of the seventeenth century. It is not surprising that there is some confusion regarding the definition of an orangery.

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The classical orangery

Historically an orangery was a building in the grounds of fashionable residences from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, and given a classicised architectural form. In England orangeries were typically Georgian in style (examples include Kensington Palace and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew).

The term ‘orangery’ reflects the original use of these buildings as a place where citrus trees were often over wintered in tubs.

How to describe the modern orangery

The simplest description of an orangery, is a room with a glazed lantern set into a flat roof. The image at the top is a good example and shows an orangery furnished as an informal lounge:

  • Note how the plastered flat roof with down lighters provides the feel of a ‘proper room’. 
  • The room is bathed in light from the glazed lantern.
  • Although the ceiling height is only just above the door height, see how the lantern adds visual height and an open spacious feel.
  • Imagine this room for one moment, as a traditional extension with a solid roof. It would become a dull uninviting room, whilst robbing the adjacent room of natural light.

Wall construction for an orangery

The modern orangery may have any configuration of masonry or windows and doors. The image above shows a full height wall, (an ideal place for a sofa) and a pair of French doors with windows either side above a 600mm dwarf wall.

How does an orangery differ from a conservatory?

Whilst an orangery has an inset glazed roof lantern, a conservatory will always have roof beams going right to the edge and therefore be fully glazed.

Orangery design considerations

An orangery extension is very versatile. Each elevation of an orangery may have any combination of masonry, windows, French doors or bifolding door sets.

What is an orangery used for?

An orangery could become a kitchen extension, a dining room, a study, a light and airy living room, a room to entertain or perhaps a garden room. The choice is yours. Let your lifestyle decide.

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