A question often asked is “can I extend my kitchen with an orangery?” Here is a bit of background first.
An orangery is a type of home extension that first became popular in the 18th century for keeping exotic plants, such as orange trees.
Advances in glazing and a desire to impress guests brought about this enclosed garden that combines the best of indoors and outdoors in a single room.
Origins of Orangeries
The origin of the orangery comes from the days of ancient Romans, when architects would include a peristyle, an open-air garden enclosed by the house walls. You could fall asleep under a rose bush without leaving the house. Being woken by birds chirping and the delightful scent of roses must have felt heavenly.
Before that, we had the ancient (some say mythical) Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This open-air indoor garden was made by a rich emperor for his homesick wife and allegedly had mountains of plants.
The baroque Kensington Palace orangery built in 1704-05 is the first notable structure of the kind in Great Britain. A royal residence and a tourist magnet, the orangery seamlessly connects with Kensington Gardens, though it seems that there was never enough light in it for oranges to grow well.
Today, you can use your orangery for whatever you like. It can be a small study room or a large indoor garden and “yes” you can build an orangery to extend your kitchen.
A typical orangery has a large brick or stone base, wide doors and a flat glass roof with a central roof lantern. The layout is most often rectangular and the walls can also be brick, though the preferred material is glass panels joined with wood or PVC. Of course, we recommend timber.
There can be heating in the orangery, though the room isn’t meant to be a permanent living space but rather an entertainment area that gets occasional use.
The main feature of an orangery is the light coming into the area. Large windows make the space feel airy, expansive and welcoming.
You can be as creative as you like of course when it comes to adding furniture in the orangery, although it tends to be more like garden furniture than that which you’d have in the main house.
The orangery with its light creates a wonderful environment for growing flowers, which bloom readily and throughout the growing season. If there’s an adjoining garden, the orangery gives a magnificent view of it, even in inclement weather. Imagine walking through your kitchen, into the orangery to relax.
People also use the orangery to store perennial plants over the winter. You can include a few vines and climbers in hanging baskets to improve the aesthetic appeal. You could even try and grow orange trees – we know some people who have tried.
Bespoke orangeries for a period property can be built as well.
Orangeries are quickly completed in most cases. There is plenty of detail to take care of before the space is ready to build on however. If you are looking to add more space to your home quickly that makes the orangery the ideal option.
Ventilation is another issue that needs addressing to increase overall comfort and safety.
Excess humidity can favour the plants but also cause mold to grow. An orangery can become stuffy too due to the large amount of glazing so you could think about including mechanical fans, vents or openable windows. Solar or automatic controls, complete with rain sensors, can automatically close the windows or hatches in the roof as needed.
Orangeries tend not to need planning permission provided that you build within permitted development rights, following the local guidelines. Speak with your local council to get more details.
There could be other limitations specific to your location, which is why contacting an expert can help sort out any potential issues before they become a problem.
In practical and aesthetic terms, an orangery requires work to ensure it aligns with the rest of the house. The part of the house nearest to the orangery might require some work too, in particular on fixtures, which might make your kitchen unusable for a while.
Think about your kitchen now and the space where the planned orangery is going – you are more than likely going to have to reconfigure the kitchen fixtures and fittings at this point.
Orangeries that are situated at the rear of the property, where you tend to find the kitchen, on the whole, get much more leeway from the planning department. The reason for this is that however it is designed, it won’t affect the kerb appeal or lower the perceived property value of adjoining houses. This doesn’t mean you can build anything at the back of the house of course.
Timber frames, especially oak frames, exude elegance and weather well. Ask if the timber is treated to give it some resistance to fungal rot and if it has a minimum lifespan before any maintenance is needed.
Steel frames can be used to replicate the traditional orangery look instead of timber. However their use can be rather expensive. We favour using metal web joists as they are lighter than steel making them easier to install and therefore more cost effective.
What’s the difference between an orangery and a conservatory?
Orangeries tend to be more substantial than a conservatory having more brick or stone work. Conservatories tend to be seen more like a garden room whereas an orangery has all the advantages of the conservatory such as daylight and views over the garden, but from the inside feel more like part of the house.
A kitchen extended with an orangery is a more substantial building than a conservatory but not as substantial as an extension – the best of both worlds you could say.
Improving your home is something that many people think about and getting more useable space for families working and playing from home nowadays is always in the news.
If you’re one of those wondering: “Can I extend my kitchen with an orangery”, the answer is: “Yes! You most certainly can”.
If you have questions, need some ideas and want a price please get in touch with us about your orangery.
We are based, in Shropshire, designing and building orangeries for customers across the UK.