Orangery – what furniture looks best?

By | October 10, 2016

The orangery is one of the natural habitats of rattan furniture: sofas, dining tables and chairs, footstools. It’s also the ideal place to overwinter citrus fruit.

The first orangeries – fact file

  • Fashionable from the 17th century.
  • Attached to stately homes or as a separate building nearby.
  • Where orange and other fruit trees were protected during the winter.
  • Reflected appearance of the big house, with tall windows and stone columns.
  • Better for plant management than the all-glass conservatory as a more even temperature could be maintained.
  • You may have seen orangeries if you’ve visited stately homes such as Chatsworth House, Montacute House or Powis Castle.
The Camellia House at Culzean Castle, originally designed as an orangery in 1818. Near Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire

The Camellia House at Culzean Castle, originally designed as an orangery in 1818. Near Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire
© Kenneth Mallard and published under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

The contemporary version

Q. When is an orangery an orangery and not a garden room or a conservatory?

A1. Look at the roof.

  • An orangery has a (usually flat) roof with a multi-paned glazed timber roof lantern providing natural light to the room below. (I love the architectural word ‘lantern’ – it sounds so romantic.) There is much less glass than in a conservatory roof so less direct sunlight enters the space. It is less likely to overheat and the lantern casts an even light so there is a much softer ambiance.
  • A conservatory has a fully glazed roof
  • A garden room has a tiled or slated roof.

A2. Look at the style and walls.

  • An orangery stands out quite prominently out from the house, and has a brick base and pillars.
  • A conservatory has lots and lots of glass.
  • A garden room’s style and glazing fits in with main part of the house.

Q. What else does it have?

A. Three things:

  • Often bi-fold or folding-sliding doors on one or more sides.
  • Probably colour. Whether it’s powder-coated aluminium or painted timber, colour can be yours with a contemporary orangery.
  • Possibly curves, in timber and brick.

Trends and uses

Orangery as orangery. They really are excellent places to protect oranges and other fruit in the winter.

As dining room. The even light and temperature makes it a comfortable dining room throughout the year. The roof lantern is a focal point and diners can gaze out at the garden.

As kitchen. The natural light and ventilation provided by the roof lantern and other glazing is fabulous for cooks and for friends just hanging out.

As somewhere quiet to read, think and write.

As sitting room.

As games room.

As TV room.

As office.

As playroom.

Furniture in the orangery

The orangery is somewhere where contemporary rattan furniture is very much at home. Stretch out and relax on a conservatory sofa – or perhaps they should be called orangery sofas? Gather round the dining table for a family meal or a celebration.

And plants too!

Orange and lemon trees are for sale in good garden centres and specialist plant nurseries. Outside in the summertime, they come inside during the winter.

Lemons outside the Garden House in the Pleasure Gardens at Osterley Park, Isleworth, West London. Orangery

Lemons outside the Garden House in the Pleasure Gardens at Osterley Park, Isleworth, West London
© Copyright pam fray and published under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

Have a look at …

our Orangery Inspo on Pinterest!