Conservatories and orangeries
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We guide you through what options are available for the interior of your conservatory, including how you can keep the temperature just right.
Make the wrong decision when choosing your conservatory, and you'll end up with an uncomfortable space that you regret. So let our experts help you to choose a conservatory that will not only impress your neighbours, but will be an oasis in your home.
You've probably already imagined enjoying breakfasts in the sun, curling up with a book to the sound of raindrops overhead, or impressing your friends and family with a dinner party under the stars.
But to get a spectacular finish to your conservatory, you'll need to think carefully about the interior. From choosing doors and vents, to positioning electrical sockets and light fittings, as well as picking the right furniture, flooring and blinds, we'll help you make the best decisions.
Take a look at our gallery for inspiration on the various interior features you could have in your conservatory, and read on below to find out more details.
Heating your conservatory
There are a number of ways you can heat your conservatory, so it's important that you make the right decision for your needs and budget.
You could extend the pipework of your existing central heating system to add radiators in your conservatory. It's likely to cost a bit more to install, but will be fairly efficient in the long term - particularly if you have a modern gas boiler.
If you're on a time-of-use electricity tariff, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, you could install a storage heater.
You could also use portable electric fan heaters. These are cheap to buy and offer flexibility, although they are likely to be expensive to run for long periods. So make sure you get one that's quick to warm up, is energy efficient and quiet - see our Best Buy electric heaters.
Another popular way to heat conservatories is to install underfloor heating, something a lot of people choose to do when having a new room added to their home. We've spoken to experts and underfloor heating owners to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of underfloor heating, including how much it costs to install. See our guide to underfloor heating to find out more.
Top tip: Whatever you choose, our experts told us it's a good idea to be able to operate your conservatory's heating system on a separate circuit and thermostat to the rest of your home. This will give you more control over its temperature and minimise any wasted energy.
Cooling your conservatory
Think about the number of opening windows and vents your conservatory will include. The more you install, the easier it will be to keep your conservatory cool.
Air conditioning can stop it from getting too hot, although it may stop you from being able to open the windows and doors - if you did this, it would make the air conditioning ineffective.
Ceiling fans are a cheaper option. These can cost between £50 and £200 or more, and can also incorporate a light fitting.
It's also worth thinking about blinds, which can help stop glare. Conservatory blinds can be expensive, especially if they're made bespoke, so it's worth getting some ideas on the cost of blinds for your conservatory before you decide if this is the right solution for you.
Getting the temperature right in your conservatory is important - when we asked Which? members* about their conservatory, we found that having a conservatory that's often too hot or cold is a common issue, and a really frustrating one.
To ensure you avoid other annoying mistakes, visit our conservatory pitfalls page where we reveal the common problems suffered by other conservatory owners and offer expert advice to stop you making the same errors.
Doors, windows, roof vents, sockets and lights
There are lots of different options when it comes to doors and windows, so it's worth having a think about the following things:
- How many windows and doors do you want?
- What type of doors would you like?
- How big do you want them to be?
- Where would you like them to be?
- How far do you want them to open?
To help you answer these questions, think about your lifestyle and how you will use the room. Where are you most likely to sit? Where will the sun be for most of the day?
You can choose single or double doors, folding doors or sliding doors. Where they are will affect how you can lay out furniture in your conservatory and how much useable space you have, so it's worth thinking about this early on.
Roof vents are often a feature you have to pay extra for, but can be worth it to keep your conservatory cool, particularly if it's south facing or gets a lot of sun.
Remember that the location of electrical sockets, radiators, doors and any TV aerial sockets will also affect how you can position furniture.
We found that nearly half of Which? members with a conservatory have a tiled floor - they're easy to keep clean and hard to damage.
Other options for flooring in a conservatory are carpet, vinyl, laminate and wood flooring. Find out more about these last two options with our guide on how to buy wood flooring.
When deciding which type of flooring to choose, think about how you will use your conservatory. If it's primarily as a living space, carpet might be a decent option. Alternatively, if you want to keep the outside doors open regularly, tiles, vinyl or laminate will probably be more practical and easier to clean. Particularly if you have pets, children or grandchildren.
It's also worth considering insulating your floor to stop the conservatory losing heat, and considering underfloor heating - especially if you're going to have a tiled floor.
Blinds are an important investment - they can give you some much-needed privacy, help make your conservatory much cooler and protect your furnishings from sun damage.
You can choose window blinds and/or ceiling blinds, depending on how overlooked your conservatory is and how much sun it gets. Blinds can be made of fabric, plastic or wood.
If you want to splash out, you can also buy reflective blinds to minimise glare, or opt for electric blinds to save manually winding them up and down at different times of the day.
But whatever kind you get, conservatory blinds can be expensive, so factor in this cost early on.
*(In June and July 2015 we surveyed 893 Which? members about their experiences of buying a conservatory in the last five years and experiences with cost in the last two years.)