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!

Tag, I'm It!


... with the Coppertone Girl

Megan from Beach Bungalow 8 and 1st Dibs fame and Neutral Dwelling both recently tagged moi, so here goes:



Oh, sure, like I can remember!  Let me really daughter was 7 years old back then, so I was carpooling a lot, I know that for sure.  I hadn't been working since I had Elisabeth - I was just enjoying being a mother and a wife.  I did rejoin the work force around this time period, though.  One morning Ben called me and said:   "I need you to go back to work, we could use the extra money."   His business was slow around then.    By the time he came home that evening, I had a new job working for an insurance agency (O.K. - it was owned by a friend, but still, he was shocked how soon I got that job!)  Very shortly afterwards,  I started back up in interior design after a 20 year hiatus (long story)  helping a few friends with their daughters' bedrooms.  I named my new, fledgling business Webb Design, and, urged on by a girlfriend who happened to be a Criminal Court Judge (I wasn't about to argue with her!) I quit the insurance business and started working for myself full time.  That was about eight years ago. 


stacy 001

One of my first jobs as an interior designer:  a friend's daughter's bedroom.  We wallpapered the room in a dotted blue and white pattern and added a toile border (I waned to do the entire room in toile, but she was too afraid to do that - times sure change!!!)  We bought a room full of Ethan Allen painted furniture and I had all the soft goods made by Monica - who remains my go-to person all these years later.  The only place to put the bed was against the window, so to make it seem more grounded - I had this faux arched canopy built and draped with the toile fabric.  The carpet is a blue and white pattern, which is hard to see in this picture.  Here again, I wanted the client to do a white with blue carpet, but she resisted!   That's a wicker bench in front.  There's also an armoire and a secretary desk in the room; and a skirted table along with a nightstand!  I started out doing skirted tables, I guess.  For the ensuite bathroom, we papered that room in the toile.   All in all I was proud of my first effort out.    Eight years later, the room is unchanged and Stacy, the daughter, still loves it.



1.  Try to do billing!!!   The bane of my existence!

2.  Meet the electricians at a client's house to approve the installation of two pairs of sconces and one lantern.

3.  Meet the rug man at another client's house to approve a new living room rug. Whoa!  Two appointments in one day - a rarity for me!



The Egyptian rug going into a client's house.

4.  Go to M. Naeve to return some things for a client and drool over her new shipment.



M. Naeve, my favorite antique store!!

5.  Start to get my house ready for Father's Day brunch on Sunday afternoon.

6.  Try to do billing!!! ugggghhh.

I know it said five things, but I didn't count on having two appointments in one day.  Jeez, I'm exhausted by all this work.



1.  Starbucks:  tall coffee with sugar free French vanilla, sweet n low and foam on the top - delicious!

2.  Starbucks vanilla biscotti.

3.  Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Almonds.

4. All time favorite:  Jelly Belly's Popcorn!



1.   Set up accounts for parents, in laws, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews, best friend.  Give them each 10 million!  Let's see that's:    $130,000,000 already.   hmmm.  Not much left now!

2.  Set up a family foundation for charity.

3.  Build or remodel a house  in Southampton (a neighborhood in Houston, not NY)  exactly how I want it - if I can only decide on one style.  Buy out M. Naeve's inventory for new said house.  Buy out everything in M. Naeve!  I mean that seriously. 


House for sale in Southampton - Houston, Texas.  Built in 1921 and located in the first gated community in Houston. 


The drive up to house, just gorgeous!


The back yard swimming pool and studio.  And this is right in the heart of Houston, two minutes from the Texas Medical Center. 

If I don't buy an old house, I will build a dream house - something like this new house for sale in Southampton.

4.  Buy a house at The Shores in South Padre Island and a house in Galveston, Texas for quick weekends.


House in The Shores, South Padre Island where Ben and I want to retire to.


And another house at The Shores.  We'll take both, we're billionaires, remember?




Since South Padre is 6 hours away by car, we will need a weekend home close by in  Galveston.  This is the new development on East Beach - Beachtown, Galveston.   Galveston only wishes it looked this good!


5.  Open a clothing store for my daughter to run.

6.  Apply for unemployment, I'll be totally broke after all this.



1.  See #4 above!


The Shores, South Padre Island, Texas. Yeah, yeah, I know - I'm a billionaire, why stay in Texas?  Well, if you know my husband, his motto is "anyplace in Texas beats anyplace outside"  OR "anything not is Texas is a third world country" - seriously.   Leaving the state of Texas for Ben is  like leaving the country.


2.  The Hill Country, Texas on a lake, any one of them.


The Texas Hill Country, scenic drive, with bluebonnets - our state flower.  And yes, it IS this beautiful in the spring. 

See, I told you!


Lake Travis, largest of the lakes in the Hill Country. We'll buy a house here for UT game weekends -- football, basketball, and baseball.


3.  And, lastly, of course, Houston, always.


Home sweet home

Ok, I'm supposed to tag five people, but I don't think there is anyone left who hasn't already been tagged.  If you haven't been tagged, please tag yourself!  You're it!!!!