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Conservatory getting in the way of your garden? Here’s what you need to do

Garden room - brighten a dark room

Is your old conservatory getting you down? Early attempts to have an indoor-outdoor space started with the conservatory. This was a very popular addition to homes in the 1960s and remained popular right into the 1980s. I can understand why they were so popular as they gave the promise of connecting the house with the garden. However, they just didn’t function as part of the house. They were always accessed through a door from the main house, which reinforced the feeling that they were an addition. They were also too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.

There’s never been a time when connecting our homes with the garden or outdoor space has been more important. For this weeks Instagram Live I’ll be chatting with Landscape architect and garden designer Leonie Cornelius. We’ll be chatting about how to make the most of your garden space regardless of how much space you have and will be answering any garden related questions that you have. So if a garden project is on your to-do list, make sure you tune in this Saturday 23rd May at 11am. Follow us on Instagram to submit your questions.

Garden Room

In recent years, the conservatory has been replaced with the garden room. This has a more solid roof and some solid walls. Having windows on all sides of the room is unnecessary and as very few of us have panoramic views, it makes sense to have at least one solid wall. Not only will it shield views to the less attractive aspects of the garden but it will also provide a wall to place furniture along.

The project

Those of you who watched the series The Design Doctors will remember the episode where we renovated a house with this very problem. There was a conservatory to the rear that was so uncomfortable to sit in winter and summer that it had fallen prey to the fate of most conservatories and had become a dumping ground, blocking the view and access to the garden.

The layout of the house had not changed since our clients Morlin and Martin bought it in the 1980s and it simply was not working for them. The kitchen was small and dark and had no direct access to the garden. Morlin enjoyed cooking and working in her garden but found both a chore because of the layout of the house. Another big issue was that there was no space for the family to congregate.

Design doctors kitchen before Design Doctors Kitchen after

The Brief

The living room and dining room were open to each other making the room difficult to relax in as the space was too big and lacked intimacy. Our brief was to create a quiet room where Martin could retreat to and read and to create a better functioning kitchen and dining area. We wanted this area to have great access to the garden and be a space where Morlin could cook, entertain and spend time with family and friends.

Design Doctors sitting room before Design Doctors sitting room after

What we did

We knocked down the wall between the old kitchen and the dining room to create a kitchen and dining area across the back of the house, allowing us to connect te new open-plan space with the garden. By doing this we created a separate sitting room to the front of the house. We knocked the conservatory and replaced it with a garden room that opened directly onto the kitchen.

Design Doctors Conservatory before

Our research

As part of our research for the project, we spent an afternoon in Kilruddery house and gardens – what a beautiful place, and a glorious example of a house connecting with a garden. The stunning orangery which adjoins the house is a perfect example of the structure that the conservatory was modelled on. What’s interesting about the orangery is that although the roof is completely glazed many of the walls are solid, which makes the space more comfortable to be in than a complete glass room.

Colour scheme

For the colour scheme, we took our cues from the garden, opting for warm earthy greys and soft greens that we contrasted with copper tones, making the space feel very calm and restful and most importantly, very connected to the outdoors.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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