The difference between a Garden Room, Orangery & a Conservatory.


There is certainly a wide choice when it comes to adding addition indoor space to your property. And as fashion changes many are understandably confused when it comes to understanding what the differences are between a Garden Room, an Orangery and a Conservatory. To the untrained eye there may not seem to be much difference between the three, but this is far from the case.

For those interested in the true differentiation between conservatories, orangeries and garden rooms, the distinction lies in the history of the structures.

Orangeries History

Orangeries gained popularity in 17th century Europe, were used to provide shelter to fruit trees on wealthy estates; providing the landed gentry with access to exotic fruit. You have to remember fruit such as oranges and limes were seen as a status symbol in such times, as such the larger and more elaborate your orangery the greater your status would be.

Conservatories History

Conservatories however are thought to have developed from orangeries as a way to protect smaller shrubs and herb plants during the harsh winter months. They were used as green houses and it was only during the Victorian era were we started to see them being integrated into the houses living space.

Garden Room History

Using them as extra living space really started in the 20th century when home technology made such buildings more or less redundant. Originally they were used as multi-purpose buildings. For instance, in the 17th and 18th centuries, small garden rooms were used as ice houses for keeping food, or as separate rooms for smoking. They were also used as laundry drying rooms or potting sheds.  It was only really in the 1960’s that we started to add additional roof glazing in the search for more natural light.  I suppose our modern day equivalent would be the integrated garage – Who uses that for parking a car?

These days, the purpose of orangeries, garden rooms and conservatories has changed beyond recognition. They are now seen as a valuable addition to any house, providing a luxury living space that looks out across the garden.

Differences in design and construction

There are some important differences in both the design and construction of the three structures. Essentially, the difference lies in how the structure complements a house and how much glassing is on the roof. A conservatory is traditionally a more versatile structure than an orangery, with the shape, style and design suited to the house. The construction is generally simple and straightforward, meaning they can easily be adapted for their intended purpose.

Orangeries, on the other hand, are more like a traditional house extension. They generally feature more brickwork than conservatories and blend into houses in a subtle and elegant way. A good way to think of an orangery is as an extension with a hint of conservatory. They usually have more brickwork but large windows and a glass roof are still the main features.

When it comes to purpose, conservatories tend to prioritise the ‘outside room’ element more than orangeries and garden rooms do. A conservatory will usually have a better view of the garden as they keep brickwork to a minimum. Orangeries and garden rooms, on the other hand, are generally thought of as more private spaces which focus on luxury.

Garden rooms however are more traditional extension style in their construction. Think of them as a pitched roof tiled extension with more glazed areas than normal.  The always have a pitched roof and can be constructed from a mixture of both glazing and roof tiles.

Conservatories are available in a variety of materials including uPVC, aluminium and timber whereas orangeries tend to be made from timber, although uPVC orangeries are available. Garden rooms are generally made from traditional mixture of brick, tile, wood and glass.

Roof Design

One of the easiest ways to distinguish one type of extension from another is in the design of the roof.

A Conservatory will always have a fully glazed roof. This may feature eaves, gables and turrets, but will always be entirely glazed providing the maximum amount of light and heat into the room below.

A Garden Room however will feature a tiled roof which usually matches that of the building it is adjoined to. This can create amazing vaulted ceilings and often include roof glazing and a glazed gable, again increasing the amount of natural light to the room.

For the modern interpretation of an Orangery the roof will be flat with a multi-paned glazed timber roof lantern that provides natural light to the room below. The flat roof will be finished with either lead or a modern alternative such as single ply polymeric roof membrane.

Orangeries, garden rooms and conservatories are now available with modern glass technologies to try and keep the space warm in winter and cool in summer. However, it is impossible with the amount of glazing these forms of extension use to realistically maintain a balanced temperature. This is why our conservatory sail shades & our shade sail drapes are idea for these structures, as they blend function, form and practicality and compliment all three extension options.


Garden Rooms, Orangeries and Conservatories are all multi-purpose rooms by design and the uses for glazed and semi-glazed rooms are endless including; kitchens, games rooms, sitting rooms, TV rooms, dining rooms and offices.

However, you can often find that due to the sheer quantity of glazing they can become too warm to relax in during summer months, or too bright to be used as TV living rooms on sunny days.  However, we at believe with the right type of designer shading and quality fabrics which compliment your glazed extension, we can ensure you enjoy your garden room, orangery or conservatory all year round. Call us now to find out how we can help design a shading solution that enhances your glazed living space. 0844 8111382 or email us on