Oak Leaf receives many queries from people wanting to know the difference between an orangery and a conservatory. The difference lies in the design elements and construction.

The orangery was frequently found on the grounds of fashionable residences from the 17th to the 19th centuries. It was a symbol of prestige and wealth and the most elaborate feature of the princely garden, designed for the wintering of exotic plants and entertaining. A typical orangery had large areas of floor to ceiling glazing set within a masonry structure designed to absorb heat in the winter, with columns and deep cornices and a low roofline, initially of solid construction, then in glass as of the early nineteenth century.

The definition of the current day orangery is reminiscent of the heritage of this classical era with its substantial vertical elements, considerable eave and soffit details, and inset-glazed roof (sometimes called a roof lantern). A classic orangery by Oak Leaf is constructed in timber using a premium grade Mahogany hardwood to give the design its lasting beauty. Each modern day Oak Leaf orangery will of course benefit from the most advanced technology for the glazing and unsurpassed quality of materials and craftsmanship.

Oak Leaf has employed a myriad of custom features to create a distinct and unique classic orangery for each client, always cognizant of existing architecture. Individualized window designs compliment the house with choices ranging from period glazing bars appropriate to the building, leaded glass and shaped solid heads. The entrance can be emphasized by projecting the doors and defining the entry of the orangery with columns, pediments and special moulding details.

An orangery can provide a solution for challenging abutment conditions of existing sites where there are windows above. A flat roof/box gutter area continues around the perimeter of the centered glass roof providing symmetry and proportion and allowing uninterrupted views from the rooms above, with a consistent soffit inside.

The perimeter of the inset-glazed roof accommodates an internal soffit, which can incorporate lighting, additional insulation, and ducting. Separating the roof from the elevations also allows for individualized finish detail on the interior soffit, whether it is a simple flat surface in timber or plaster or elaborately paneled. This solid roof area seamlessly links the orangery to the adjoining rooms of the house as an integrated extension, not an add-on. The use of consistent lighting and flooring throughout will maximize this effect.

Imaginative use of paint colour can give the orangery columns the allusion of being made from stone or add a touch of whimsy. Exterior roof cappings are powder-coated in a colour to suit. The use of dark grey exterior roof capping integrates with lead lined perimeter box gutter for a refined look.

For a more solid construction and symmetry consider an orangery. Conservatory designs, on the other hand, will have a full glass roof that will usually be higher and extend to meet the sidewalls and terminate at the eave/gutter. The conservatory entablature will be more delicate and while substantial columns are possible conservatory columns and pilasters tend to be slimmer than those in a classic orangery. Today’s orangery designs typically are built on a knee wall, which is usually the same material as the house. Conservatories can be built on a knee wall, have timber base panels or be glazed to the floor level.

The term ‘orangery conservatory’ is sometimes used when the design elements of the two are combined. There are unlimited possibilities for the design and no rules to abide by. Whether an orangery, conservatory, or an amalgamation, each bespoke design will exemplify our understanding of the customer’s needs and aspirations for a structure that personifies a harmonious unified whole.