A conservatory is "a greenhouse for growing or displaying plants," according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. In contemporary usage, however, the word has come to mean a room that features glass walls, designed for relaxing and entertaining. Although the word conservatory may have a very British flavour, the appeal of a kitchen that brings the outdoors inside is universal. In the United States, a conservatory may go by the decidedly less formal name of sun room. Whatever it's called, a kitchen conservatory can add style, warmth and beauty to any home.
A Classic Kitchen Orangery
Orangeries originated in Victorian England and evolved into contemporary conservatories. Unlike sun rooms, orangeries feature more traditional structure, with wood and brick walls and large windows. The more 'room'-like feeling and the insulation advantage makes an orangery-style conservatory a practical choice for a kitchen. In fact, if the kitchen is roomy enough, all it takes to turn a kitchen into a kitchen conservatory is the installation of additional windows on the outside wall. The orangery style offers more privacy than a standard sun room and is easier to heat in the winter.
A Kitchen Patio Conservatory
Many suburban homes feature sliding glass doors that open from the kitchen onto a patio or deck. In this case, turning the patio into a kitchen extension is an easy way to increase the floor and dining space in the kitchen. Extending the kitchen onto the patio involves knocking out the wall between the two spaces, glassing in the patio and finishing the floor in the patio area. In most cases, the appliances and cooking areas can stay where they are, and the new sunny space can be used for dining and entertaining.
An Easy Kitchen Conservatory Idea: The Lean-to Conservatory
Sometimes called sun rooms, lean-to conservatories are built by using the existing wall as a support for the conservatory roof. They grew out of the tradition of building a greenhouse on the north wall of a house to take advantage of the southern sun while sheltering the plants from the cold north winds. Lean-to conservatories are simpler to build because they feature slanted roofs rather than peaked roofs. The glass walls can be floor-to-ceiling or built onto low walls. A lean-to conservatory is an excellent choice for adding space and light to a small or narrow kitchen. The bump-out to the outside is relatively small--the space is added width-wise, by building along the entire length of the kitchen. This keeps building complications to a minimum while adding maximum floor space for a dining or entertaining area.
A Conservatory to Transition Between Indoors and Out
Make the most of backyard space by building a kitchen conservatory that opens out onto a patio, creating a transition between the indoors and the outdoors. If you already have a patio outside the kitchen, this can be relatively easy to accomplish. Simply extend the kitchen onto the patio by cutting into the kitchen wall and building a lean-to conservatory that extends as much as halfway across the outdoor space. Finish the conservatory space with bifold glass doors that can be opened for outdoor entertaining or closed to enclose the kitchen. The result is an indoor cooking and prep area at one end, an outdoor grilling and entertainment space at the other, and in between, a transitional space with room for dining and conversation.
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