Imagine stepping through your patio doors into an oasis of colorful, fragrant flowers and herbs. Imagine a lawn that simply invites the kids out to play. A conservatory can be a perfect halfway point between your home and garden, blurring the boundary between inside and out. Filling it with cane or rattan furniture, cascading foliage plants, exotic orchids and floral wall prints can turn it into an inside out living space; creating a bright and spacious area for dining, relaxing and socializing. For an even more seamless transition between your home and garden choose a timber-framed conservatory over its less expensive PVCu cousin.
The idea of a conservatory is to create an indoor space that feels like outside – a space that will allow maximum light into the home. The roof can be solid, polycarbonate or glazed; a glass roof allows for stargazing too. There are numerous conservatory or extension suppliers and makers; it will only take a quick online search to reveal local choices and recommendations.
Patio doors leading into your outside space can be sliding, single, double, folding or French; with multipoint locking systems on most doors to keep your home secure, and sometimes help keep insurance premiums lower.
Choosing the right material and style for your patio can sometimes be bewildering. It helps to consider the building style and colors of your property, and design your patio to reflect these. Bear in mind that your patio flooring, as with your conservatory flooring, should be simple so that it enhances other design aspects rather than overwhelming them. A path made of reclaimed bricks might suit a Victorian terraced cottage, but not a new-build. To create a more contemporary outdoor space for a modern home, choose a darker smooth stone. To set a rustic tone, for a barn conversion for example, a yellow stone such as Yorkshire flag would be ideal.
Planting a herb garden close to the conservatory and patio brings culinary ingredients to your doorstep. Parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil are the mainstay of French cuisine. Rosemary and thyme are fragrant with flowers to attract bees and butterflies. There’s little to beat a simple tomato salad flavored with fresh basil from pots on the patio.
A lawn should invite you to walk on it not to turn and run from the chore of mowing, weeding and feeding it. Set up a regular maintenance program. Mow your lawn every two weeks from spring through to fall, helps to keep the grass healthy with a strong root system, in turn naturally suppressing weeds. Leaving it slightly longer than you might be tempted to can actually reduce growth between cuts.
Healthy indoor plants reflect the vitality of their outdoor counterparts, again blurring the division between inside and out. Choose smaller leaved plants such as Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig.) Larger leaved plants such as Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) are quicker to lose moisture through their larger leaf surface. They’re also more likely to crisp and brown at their leaf edges. Orchids will tolerate hot days and sometimes much cooler nights in the conservatory; and will always appreciate time outside when all risk of frost is past.
Roller or Vertical blinds give the opportunity to add style and comfort, reducing high temperatures at the same time as opting for an additional element of style and design. Your conservatory or garden room may well feature bay windows. Fitting blinds and curtains here is not always an easy option. But fitting bay window shutters is an alternative and easier option. The shutters allow you to control the amount of light coming in, plus added privacy and security is a feature. Choose from bright colors or natural wood to complement and enhance the living space. Self-fitting makes bay window shutters an affordable choice.
Some outdoor furniture ranges can look great inside giving you the versatility of inside or outside dining. For permanent conservatory furnishings, cane or rattan sofas, chairs and tables create a natural and contemporary look. Take advantage of fabric collections offering choices of color and texture. Choose accessories such as mirrors to add more light on a cloudy day, rugs for texture and warmth, lamps to add a soft evening glow, and candles to create a cozy atmosphere as dusk falls.
Resist the urge to treat your conservatory as a bike park, a home for multiplying muddy gardening shoes or as a space for draping and drying laundry. Instead, embrace and enjoy this extra living space connecting you to the nature outdoors.