Conservatories, Orangeries, and Poolhouses




This beautiful image of a poolhouse was recently featured on a couple of different blogs.  Isn't it just gorgeous?  The building is technically a conservatory, which is  a structure made of glass and wood or metal.  Conservatories were first popular with the English at the start of the 19th century.  Although originally used for greenhouses, as their popularity grew, so did their functions.  Social settings for teas heralded the change from the purely horticulture to the residential.  Today, conservatories serve as extra sunrooms for the upperclass, as the price for one of these structures can cost upwards of $50,000.   Still more popular overseas, America is slowly warming up to these wonderfully versatile glass structures.

Another structure that is very similar to the conservatory is the orangery.  First used to grow citrus fruits, the orangery is now virtually identical to the conservatory except for one feature:  whereas the conservatory is made out of  metal or wood and glass, the orangery is made out of brick and glass.   In America, most companies don't distinguish between an orangery and a conservatory, rather they use the two terms interchangeably.

These glass structures can be contemporary in design, but most are either Victorian or Edwardian.  There are some that are Georgian, but since that style predates the beginnings of the conservatory, the Georgian styled structures are purely interpretive.  Because the structure is mainly glass, where it is placed on the property is important depending upon the climate.  For instance, a home located where there is a hot southern sun would place the conservatory facing north.  Whereas in a cool, northern locale, it would be positioned facing either west or south.   This proper placement is essential for comfort while inside the structure.  Today, mostly, the conservatories are used as either casual dining rooms or family rooms.   And, since there is a certain romance attached to these structures, they make perfect rooms to use at night with candlelight.  



A typical conservatory in the English countryside.  Attached to the main house, this conservatory is used for casual dining.


A beautiful Victorian styled conservatory.


This conservatory has a distinctive lantern, or skylight.


The inside of the above conservatory:  a combination living and dining room.


Conservatories are beautiful when lit at night by candlelight.


The interior of the candle lit conservatory above.


This structure is technically an orangery, built with brick and glass.


The orangery's interior.  There's no citrus fruit growing in here!   I love the black slate floor and the two lanterns hanging from the skylight.


A romantic, country conservatory.


This beautiful conservatory adjoins a large terrace made of the same stone as the house.


The above conservatory's interior.  Dressier than most, it is still bright and cheery.


This conservatory is used for a casual eating area.  The charming hanging shelf with it's white plates almost upstages the glass structure.


This conservatory with it's brick floors is interior designer's Bunny Williams dining room in the country.  Made famous in her book "An Affair with a House" the arched french doors were bought by Ms. Williams  and wee used as the foundation of this garden room.


A second story Georgian styled addition to a city town house.


A fabulous roof with an even more fabulous interior.  I love the decor here!


A fireplace keeps this garden styled conservatory warm in the winter months. 


A beautiful orangery that blends in with the main house.


This conservatory opens to the patio which increases the living space.


The casual interior of the conservatory above.


This glorious garden structure appears to be floating in the water.



A conservatory found in the country - beautiful facade.


This townhouse shows a typical placement for an inner city structure:  attached to the back.


The elegant interior of the city townhouse above.


This structure, though attached to the main house, almost appears freestanding.


In order to combat harsh sunrays, many conservatories come equipped with ceiling shades, such as these.


A charming, countryside orangery.


Beautiful tin roof on this conservatory gives it it's folly-like appearance.


If space or budget is a concern, you can always add just a lantern to a room's ceiling.  A fancy skylight, the lanterns are wonderful for dark, interior rooms.  


These clients provided the antique doors for their orangery.



This diminutive orangery acts a bridge between the main house and an addition.


The garden room interior of a structure.


A fancy pool house with a conservatory facade.


An Anglo-Indian inspired interior, ready for the hot sun with it's drawn ceiling shades.


Many  conservatories are furnished with large, elaborate lighting fixtures, such as this one.


A large crystal chandalier for this conservatory.


The stone on this orangery matches the main house, making it seem less of an addition.


Again, matching stone lends an air of permanence to this structure.  At dusk, this looks particularly inviting.


Casual, garden room interior.  The stone fireplace becomes the focal point.


Dining room in the country.



Absolutely beautiful!!!

Sound of Music, the story of the Trapp family - holiday in Salzburg, Austria, bed and breakfast, guesthouse, hotel Sallerhof

Perhaps the most well known conservatory played an integral part in one of the most famous movies ever:  The Sound of Music.  Remember the scene where the oldest daughter is dancing with her boyfriend?  And later, Maria and the Captain share a dance too.  The small, round conservatory is still standing and is a huge visitor's stop in Austria.


The actual Sound of Music conservatory.  On a college tour of Europe, I actually saw this too!


  1. I absolutely love the little candle lit's romantic..Fay

  2. I think I am more in love with the Orangery !!! How beautiful. It seems to blend with the house more and not look like an add on.
    I might add if DH wanted to add on there would be no complaints! LOL
    Great post as usual!!!

  3. Back in the middle of the 19th century, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, a cousin of Napoléon III's, decorated her conservatory of her house in Rue de Berri (I believe that was the address) with masses of overstuffed furniture, palm trees, gloxinias, et cetera, and entertained in it. That indoor-outdoor decor set a trend apparently, and it is described in alluring detail in the diaries of the Goncourt brothers.

  4. Another to-die-for post. Joni, when do you find time to sleep? It has to have something to do with those daily Starbuck's runs. As for these glass-encased jewels, the deft touches of genius designers are spectacularly apparent. Alas, my dream of an elegant glass sunroom came off looking more like a FEMA trailer attached to my house! Sigh......

  5. WOW! Phew - that was quite the post. Ditto on what Sharon said - do you sleep?

    I have always had an conservatory on the top of my list of items the dream home must have. They are so romantic and inspiring for the creative juices. It would be such a wonderful space for setting up an area to paint in....

    Bravo Joni!

  6. Sharon - thanks for your kind words!!!!!!! you always leave the nicest comments. I know what you mean: the "affordable" conservatories are just not in the same league. At all!!! What a shame, you can't even fake that I don't think.

  7. I'm always wondering how you come up with so many images to include in your posts! The variety is astounding. You must have turned in some comprehensive research papers back in the day. By the way, do you have your design books organized using the Dewey Decimal System?! It's just so impressive. Thanks for sharing.

    Angela P.

  8. Well, you've left me breathless again. Just one beauty after another. Thank you so much.

  9. Joni, I guess I will echo so many other comments....Yet again you have outdone yourself!!! These glass houses are just dreamy. Aaahhhhhh

  10. Hello there dear friend....I've missed our chats...

    What I'm about to share over at my post, I've waited two years to experience...Nic's wedding....

    Here's a blanket invitation to share in our joy....

    let's chat

  11. What beautiful pictures. I dream of having a conservatory one day! Sitting in there with a good book and a cup of tea - heaven!
    Have a great week!
    Trina xx

  12. Well, these are simply dreamy. And I had no idea you could visit the conservatory from the Sound of Music! Love that movie. My 6-year old daughter listens to the soundtrack from Sound of Music almost every night. I'll have to show her this picture! -Julia

  13. Oh, dear, dear Joni. I was transported far way for a bit while viewing your posts. Thank you for the journey. Breathtaking!

  14. Conserving energy for coming back to carefully peruse these stunning rooms and decide which one would be mine! Music to my ears, I saw the "Sound of Music"- when I was little six times! I still love it and that Conservatory scene is one of my favorites!

  15. I love conservatories! What a beautiful post! I think I'll be in dreamy state for the rest of the day thinking about how mine would look if I ever get that lucky!

  16. Wonderful! I've always loved that Bunny Williams dining room. In Florida, I'm afraid it would be blazing hot in there! Sigh.


  17. Breathtaking post, Joni. Each structure an absolute delight. As I began reading, I wondered if you would have Bunny Williams' conservatory.

    Thank you, for sharing another great post.


  18. WOW... great posting! Love this collection of photos... REALLY Love the last of photo... one of my favorite movies!

  19. These are absolutely beautiful. Rooms like these she be included on every house, not a luxury add - on!

    There would be a lot more nicer people in the world if everyone had a room like this to retreat too:)

  20. We have a terribly done greenhouse circa 1955 that was added on to an original conservatory in our 1904 house. I'm dying to do something a'la British conservatory and see ads but am too scared to actually get a quote. I have a feeling here in teh Northeast they would be closer to 100k. At this point it's low on the wish list. Thank you for something to dream on.

  21. I would take any one of these any day Joni!! They are just all so gorgeous :)


  22. I love the candle lit conservatory. It reminded me of the game Clue-- my guess is Mrs. Peacock, in the conservatory with the candlestick! Have a great evening Joni!

  23. What woman does not dream of a beautiful conservatory. Although in Texas, I fear we would roast alive in summer. However, a girl can dream can't she? If I was a billionaire, this would be in my top ten.

  24. Lovely post, as usual. Bunny Williams' garden will be open June 28th as part of the Garden Conservancy tours. Her dining conservatory is part of a guest barn that she opens up to all to wander through, which I find to be very generous. I have been in it several times and it is absolutely beautiful. Well worth going to! Thank you, Joni for another great post.

  25. I could happily sit in any of them on a spring morning, drinking my coffee whilst reading Cote de Texas...Pure bliss!

  26. As a gardener, I loved looking at all those lovely conservatories. But as a gardener, it also broke my heart to think about having the money to build something so beautiful and then leaving out the plants, trees and flowers. Even the best ones hardly had a plant visible. Those folks are missing one of the greatest pleasures of life by filling their follies only with furniture.

  27. Joni - a beautiful post and you were just the girl for the job. Mr. B. wants to add a little something to the office of the dream house - and while these examples are a little grand for us, they are a wonderful inspiration.

  28. What a fabulous post. I am not sure how I stumbled across your blog. The coincidence is; however, that I moved from West University a year ago. My husband and I owned the house directly across from Wier Park's basketball court for 27 years. I really enjoyed walking along with you through West U. I love it much more though, here on our 3.5 acres, probably because we are living a totally different life. Thanks for providing a great connection to my past! And please, check out my website sometime.

  29. Great Post Joni
    I have always loved Orangeries - I prefer that term to Conservatory, it sounds more French and romantic. Great images!!

  30. I've always loved these little buildings (and as a kid fell in love with that garden pavilion in the sound of music -design geek from birth!) and someday I'll have one poolside myself. I emailed you one we did at work that I think is pretty great -let me know what you think!

  31. I was going to mention my favorite but there are too many to go back and identify! Love the townhouses though.

  32. Is it possible to LIVE in a conservatory? B/C if so, I'm there. :)

  33. Thanks so much for all the comments!!!

    Linda - I think the owners probably have some plants but the photo stylists may have removed them for the pictures!

  34. ok WOW. I'd like to take the first conservatory please. That's my all time favorite if I were to pick one for myself. I also thhink the stone building on the water is absolutely gorgeous! Maybe some day when I actually have a backyard lol.

    Cheers :)


  35. As usual Joni you've left me speechless.

    Beautiful beautiful post.

    My pick of the bunch - the stone orangery with the antique doors of course ;)

    *sighs* If only!

    Anna :)

  36. I love this post , it is so interesting ! Actually I love the orangery's interior , the one with blue sofa , it looks wonderful !

  37. I love those dream house is not a conservatory, but has as many windows as one. I ADORE all the light.

  38. Joni,
    I was just researching these last weekend! Honestly, I'll take any one (or two) of these beauties you've shared in this smorgasbord of a post! They look so deliciously inviting!

  39. I have always wanted a conservatory since I first some them when I was in London as a teenager. There are some amazing rooftop conservatories there. Thanks for posting all of these terrific examples, Joni!

  40. Wow--lovely, lovely tribute to the conservatory! As you know, our little rental in the English countryside has a small conservatory addition. Unfortunately it is southwest facing, so it does get hot (sometimes unbearably hot) on sunny days. However, it is a wonderful place for dinner. We push out the transom windows and thow open the double doors--no mosquitoes here! And oh yes, we have candelight, of course.

    Just got back from Salzburg, speaking of SOM. Saw the Mirabell gardens of Do-Re-Mi fame. Didn't get to the conservatory. Darn!

  41. THe baby room in father of the bride II was very nice, as were the baby room in your blog.

  42. Wonderful conservatories and orangeries. These are so beautiful.

  43. Looking awesome and attractive. The great Orangeries and conservatory.

    Orangeries York

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