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Conservatories vs. Sunrooms

The Conservatory: The More Elaborate Sunroom

Famous ConservatoriesLiving in the Atlanta area, it’s likely you’ve seen a conservatory or two in your time. But you may not have been aware that’s exactly what you were seeing, as it’s possible you were never quite sure what a conservatory was. More than a sunroom, somewhat like a greenhouse, a conservatory is typically made up of a glass roof and walls, and is attached at just one side of a house. Sounds like a sunroom? Well, maybe but there are some distinct differences.

Conservatories: A Brief History

Conservatories first appeared in the 16th century, and were mostly seen throughout the colder regions of Europe. Popular among wealthy landowners, they would be used to grow citrus fruits that had been brought to the region by traders. These sun-filled glass rooms allowed landowners to cultivate these fruits year-round.

Municipal conservatories began to gain popularity in the early nineteenth century, and were often used to display exotic plants and hold flower exhibits. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, conservatories started becoming increasingly social in their usage and soon functioned as the most popular site for tea parties in England.

The Golden Age of Conservatories

The nineteenth century is often considered the Golden Age of conservatories, particularly in England, being the time when some of the most elaborate and famous conservatories were built, including London’s Kew Gardens (pictured above) and Syon Park (the first large-scale conservatory made out of metal and glass), and Anthaeum in Hove, a Sussex seaside town.

Anthaeum is perhaps most famous for its unfortunate fate—it collapsed on its opening day, due to its large and quite heavy dome roof (the largest in the world at the time, weighing about 400-500 tons and made of glass and iron). The shock of the event was so horrific to Henry Phillips, whose idea and design it was, that it rendered him blind, never to recover his sight.

victorian conservatoriesThe Victorian Conservatory

Victorian conservatories, though most popular during the Victorian era, have experienced a resurgence today. With their ornate detailing and beautiful arches, Victorian conservatories remain a popular choice for those looking to build a conservatory as part of their home.

The style of the Victorian conservatory is often what we think of when differentiating between conservatories and sunrooms and greenhouses. When someone says they’re looking for a conservatory, it usually means they’re searching for something more elaborate and detailed in its architecture than a sunroom or a greenhouse. In fact, you may have seen a few Victorian conservatories around Atlanta today.

georgian conservatoriesThe Georgian Conservatory

Georgian conservatories have also had a resurgence in present day, and like the Victorian conservatory, it’s likely you’ve seen a few of these in the Atlanta area as well. Much like Georgian architecture, a Georgian conservatory will usually use wood elements in the design. A Georgian conservatory also traditionally won’t have gutters. Instead, rainwater escapes freely from the roof and is absorbed by gravel, which lays at the edge of the structure. Though different in styling and materials, a Georgian conservatory is just as elaborate as a Victorian one, with its beautiful fluted pilasters and Palladian gable pediment traditional to the design.

But mostly when you’re looking for a conservatory, or any type of structure that will be added onto your home, you’ll want it to compliment the current style of your home. For those with modern homes, well you may want to consider a geodesic dome. You’ll definitely stand out from the crowd with one of these attached to your home.

Contact our team of experienced professionals at DC Enclosures to learn more about conservatories, sunrooms and greenhouses in Metro Atlanta. We’ve been serving the Atlanta area for over 25 years and are proud of our contributions to the local community.

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