Conservatories have come a long way from some of the wooden lean-tos and PVC palaces of yesteryear. Gone are the days of flimsy structures that felt as though a big enough gust of wind would carry them half way down the garden, or that were so loud you could barely hear yourself think when the rain hammered onto the corrugated roof.
And modern conservatories are also more habitable throughout the year. Once upon a time, you could perhaps enjoy the space for a couple of months when the weather was mediocre, but in summer it was a stifling furnace, and a walk-in freezer come winter.
But while a conservatory is now a more inviting space in your home, many people struggle with how to style this in-between room. To overcome that challenge, here are our top 10 ideas to help you transform your conservatory into a vibrant and welcoming environment.
1) Conservatory furniture ideas
In most cases, a conservatory acts almost as a go-between from home to garden. With that in mind, it’s often a space where the natural environs of the outdoors are an inspiration; think plants and foliage to decorate. This idea of bringing the outdoors in can also be reflected in your choice of furniture.
For many people, a more lightweight option is often preferable, so wicker and rattan conservatory furniture have always been popular. Modern versions of rattan mean that style doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the sake of functionality; check out show stoppers like Koba and Bowen to bring a touch of the outdoors to your conservatory. Wooden tables and ornaments can accentuate the earthy theme further.
To go in the completely opposite direction, you might prefer a more contemporary scheme, built around a statement corner sofa and including metal accents for an industrial finish.
2) Inject some colours into your conservatory
The colours you choose are entirely up to you. Just like any other room, a conservatory is a place where you can experiment and refine the palette to your taste. Many people opt for soft pastel shades to give off a relaxed and calming aura. As we’ve already covered, greens and earthy colours are also popular as a method of knitting together the home and garden.
But there’s also the temptation of a more dramatic colour scheme. Using bold coloured paint in the conservatory can be a real statement, and the expanse of glass should mean that the room will still be flooded with enough light to be a welcoming space.
Another way to inject some colour is by using wallpaper. This will probably rely on the conservatory being built against a previously external wall. Exposed brick can often be left if you’re after the industrial feel, but a statement print wallpaper can also add a burst of colour.
3) The best conservatory blinds and curtains
Part of the charm and beauty of a conservatory are those signature glass panels that allow the room to be flooded with light. It’s a shame to cover them up too much, but at the same time you’ll want some semblance of privacy from nosy neighbours, and perhaps a little respite from the elements.
Blinds are the most common choice for dressing conservatory windows. Some might opt for a venetian or vertical style, but these can cast unsightly shadows across the space. Instead, a patterned roller blind can add interest as well as the convenience of covering the window entirely, or being winched all the way up to let the light pour in.
For double doors, some full-length curtains can serve several purposes; they’ll act as draught preventers, block out some of the warming sun rays, and of course add some texture and colour to the room.
4) Give your conservatory flooring a new lease of life
Because it’s a place that usually connects the house to a garden, the best flooring for a conservatory is probably a hard floor that is easy to clean. It’ll likely see high traffic, often with dirty shoes traipsing through (think kids running in and out, or even muddy paw prints from pets). A wooden or tiled floor therefore might be your best bet, eliminating the heartache of an unsightly stain on a clean carpet.
To soften the harshness of a solid surface in your conservatory, rugs are an astute investment. Not only will they add a touch of homeliness, they’ll also mean you can incorporate further colour and pattern to the room.
5) How to heat a conservatory
As you may know, a conservatory – particularly one that’s a few years old – can be a cold place in the winter. Many people neglect the room altogether during the colder months, preferring to use it simply as a sun room during spring and summer. But you might be missing a trick; there are plenty of heating options available that mean you can enjoy the room all year round.
Firstly, you could extend the central heating system into your conservatory, though this can be an expensive job. An electric heater may be a better bet, depending on your electricity tariff and usage. You can even use a wood burning stove, which would be an eye-catching addition. Just ensure you follow building regulations and install the correct flue pipe to avoid a catastrophe.
When the weather turns, layer throws and blankets over your conservatory furniture to create a warm and inviting snug.
6) Conservatory lighting ideas
In any room, lighting can go a long way to finishing the look and setting the mood. The conservatory is no different. Getting stuck into a box set? Getting lost in a book? Entertaining friends? Clever lighting is your companion when it comes to getting the ambience on point.
A table lamp in a corner can add a satisfying glow, while a statement floor lamp arched over a sofa is a perfect low level conservatory lighting idea. If you’re opting for a ceiling light, it might be worth considering a dimmer switch function so you can pare it down when required. Alternatively, a couple of wall lights are a subtler form of illumination.
7) Conservatory accessories and furnishing ideas
It’s the little trinkets and nick nacks that make a house a home. Over time, you’ll naturally find pieces that make their way into your conservatory; vases are a popular choice, and filled with flowers can transform the space into an extension of your garden.
Plants are also a favourite in the conservatory, tying in with that natural theme we spoke about earlier – how about a hanging basket for something a little different? Succulents are a low-maintenance alternative, and can even thrive in the humid atmosphere of a summer sun trap.
Other ornaments and accessories can be used on bookcases or shelves to add character and a personal touch to the space. Cushions and soft furnishings are also great for adding a cosiness and comfort to your conservatory furniture.
8) Clever conservatory storage ideas
Okay, it’s all well and good using bookcases and shelves as places to showcase decorative objects. But those effortless displays only exist in magazines and on Instagram, don’t they? Everyone else’s conservatory becomes a makeshift laundry room, post office, toy factory, et cetera.
TV stands can also be found with additional cupboards and shelves to allow for organised storage of DVDs, Blu-Rays and more.
9) Turn your conservatory into a dining room
Say what? Rather than the traditional use as a sun room or conduit between garden and home, give the conservatory a central role in the home; use it as a dining room. A dining table in wood or glass looks great as a centrepiece, and you can also be playful with your chairs – add pops of colour to suit your scheme and you’ll turn an occasional room into the heart of your home.
If space is at a premium, opt for a space saving dining table like Woodumi or Lance. And you can be shrewd with your dining furniture. Go for something that’s lightweight enough to drag outside when weather permits, and you’ll have yourself an al fresco mealtime in minutes.
10) Small conservatory? Try these ideas
We’ve touched on it already, but conservatories often aren’t the largest of areas. While the internet is awash with expansive sun rooms with entire walls that fold back to reveal huge swathes of lush garden, many of us are working with much tighter dimensions.
But small conservatories don’t have to sacrifice style. Decorating with light colours will make things feel bigger and airier, and mirrors, our reliable old friends, can be used on walls to emphasise the illusion.
Making clever choices with your furniture can also make small space living a doddle. Try a slimline or compact sofa that doesn’t encroach too far into the room. A nest of tables is also a savvy addition, giving you additional surfaces for a cuppa and cake when you need it and neatly sliding under one another when you don’t.
Over to you
They’ve had a bad rap over the years, but there can be beauty in a well-appointed conservatory. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run free when it comes to decorating this often overlooked and underused space.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, try some of our conservatory ideas and see where they take you.