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24th August, 2022

What is the difference between a conservatory and a garden room?

If you are thinking about extending your home, you are likely in the middle of researching the different options to decide what style and type of extension will work for you. There are lots of choices from a traditional extension to a fully frameless glass box extension. Two of the most popular options are of course the conservatory and the garden room. But what is the difference between the two options?

Within the home improvement market, conservatories, orangeries, glass extensions, sunrooms and garden rooms often get used interchangeably to describe an extension, but there are clear design differences that distinguish each structure type. In an earlier blog, we talked about the differences between a conservatory, orangery, or traditional extension.  Today we are going to look at the design details that distinguish a conservatory from a garden room and the benefits of each.


What is the definition of a conservatory and a garden room?


A room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side and used as a sun lounge

Garden Room

A room in a garden, with a door or window opening out on to or providing a view of the garden, with a solid roof.

Conservatory Design

timber framed conservatory

A conservatory is a predominantly glass room, with a full glass roof, the roof is the area of design that differentiates the design from the garden room. The glass roof was designed to let in lots of natural light and hails back to when conservatories were originally used for growing plants. The modern glass technology available now makes the room temperature comfortable, keeping the heat in winter and reducing the heat during the summer.  Not all conservatory glass is made equal though, so do your research to find the best possible glass within your budget to ensure your room is usable all year round. As well as the glass roof, they can be constructed from either framed glass from floor to ceiling or maybe a combination of full-height glass and then dwarf walls and glass. All three aspects of the structure don’t need to be glass to be classed as a conservatory, for example, you might choose to have two glass aspects and then a wall at the boundary side of the garden. The more glass you have, generally the higher the investment needed, especially as you will want to go for the best glass possible to get the most from your room. Conservatories are available in various styles and shapes, such as a lean-to, or gabled roof, with turrets and finials as finishing options. The frames can be manufactured from a choice of materials, usually uPVC, timber, oak and aluminium.

A conservatory is always a direct extension, attached to your home on one of the original external walls at the back or side of your home. Some people choose to remove part or all of the wall between the conservatory and their home to create an open-plan feel.  This is a great option but will require sign-off from building regulations, possibly some structural work on the external wall and you will also need to consider insulation and heating to ensure that opening up your home to your new room doesn’t result in the main house becoming too cold in winter.

Conservatory Benefits:

  • Extension of the floor plan of your home
  • Easy access from the original building
  • A light and airy room which could bring in more light to your home
  • Very little construction required
  • Can add value to your home
  • Great as a dining or relaxing space
  • Can be made open plan
  • The inclusion of bi-fold doors or French doors removes barriers to the garden
  • Great view of the garden

Garden Room Design

Oak sunroom extension

Like the conservatory, a garden room can be attached to your home, but more commonly they are a separate building within your garden. The garden room is very similar to a conservatory design, again offering full control over the ratio of glass to wall and frame, but in this instance, the garden room has a tiled or flat roof. An option is to add in skylights or a glass gable end to the roof to still let in light but give that feeling of a more traditional extension or room. The tiled roof can also mean that keeping a more constant temperature is a little easier due to the insulation options and you won’t have to worry as much about the temperature control properties of the glass, which could mean a garden room is a lower investment per square metre. The nature of the garden room design also means that there can be more privacy built-in, making it a great choice for guest accommodation attached or separate from the house, or for an office or studio where separation and quiet are required. Again, depending on the design there are several frame materials options such as oak and timber, as well as choices around the wall material and design to match the aesthetic of the house or the garden.

Garden Room Benefits:

  • Great home extension option that can be made open plan
  • Brilliant standalone structure
  • Less construction is required than a traditional extension
  • Can be designed to look and feel like a traditional extension
  • Can add value to your home
  • More built-in insulation due to a solid roof
  • The roof reduces the amount of light and heat
  • Potential lower investment due to less glass in the design
  • More privacy due to the solid roof
  • Great as guest accommodation, studio or as a home office
  • Can include French or bi-fold doors to completely open the room up to the garden

Let us help you decide

Still not sure which option to go with?  Let us help you; our specialists are available to discuss your requirements, answer any questions, and give an idea of the cost with a no-obligation quote.  We can also give you some design examples to have a look over.

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