Orangeries and Conservatories Design Differences

OK, so you really want to extend the family home but are not quite sure how to tell the difference between an Orangery and a Conservatory?

Both Orangeries and Conservatories have their roots firmly planted (pun intended!) back in 17th to 19th Centuries. They were originally used more or less as “greenhouses” to grow Citrus trees (hence the name Orangery). Conservatories were the second of the two to appear, as they were a development of the original Orangery room.

To help you out, here are some “easy to spot” external visual differences between the two types of home extensions.

orangeries compared to conservatories
side by side: An Orangery & Conservatory

Visual Design Differences


The first clue is in the way the walls are built. Conservatories are always “3 sided”, utilising the actual house itself as the 4th wall.

Orangeries can sometimes be built as a stand-alone building,

For Conservatories, the walls will be mostly full length floor to ceiling glazed panels. They can, however, often feature low level brickwork known as Dwarf Walls as a design feature. These Dwarf walls are rarely more than a couple of feet or half a metre in height.

Orangeries will typically make extended use of solid walling such as brickwork and pillars. Windows will be built within these solid sections. This makes the Orangery a sort of “mid-point” between a Conservatory and a full house single storey extension.


The second clue lies in the way the roof of each room is constructed.

Orangeries will typically be a combination of part glazed, part solid flat roof. A popular type of Orangery roof will consist of a vaulted (raised) central glazed “dome or lantern” around which is a flat roof section (a bit like a square polo-mint if you like, with the centre “hole” being the glazed section).

Whilst Conservatories can also have vaulted or lantern roofing (Gable, Victorian, Edwardian for example), they are almost always full glass (or equivalent).

As ever, there are both conservatory and orangery designs in the market that may well “blur the line” between the two, but in most cases the above will hold true.

Differences Between Orangeries and Conservatories