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Home Improvement - I Love Orangeries Conservatory Greenhouses Sun Rooms

Sadly for sunrooms, not all sunrooms were created equally. For you see, an orangery has architectural elements that distinguish it from the standard sunroom. What is wonderful about an orangery, a sunroom, or a conservatory is the fact that these room additions provide allot of light and allow us to enjoy the great outdoors inside, without the bother of rain or heat or snow or insects. What is different about an orangery is not just the original purpose of housing citrus plants but the roof lantern is distinct only to the orangery.

Journey with us as we visit over ten outstanding rooms from living rooms, kitchens to even an exceptionally inviting swimming pool orangery. See what just one wall of windows and skylights can do for a small room and a take tiny living room and turn it into a sunny sanctuary. Learn about the popularity of orangeries throughout Europe, especially northern Europe. At the very end, check your retention skills by participating in a quick quiz.

What is an Orangery?

The term "orangery" is essentially a foreign term to Americans. In the United States, our colloquial term is "sun room", for some Victorian purist, we will hear "conservatory" but the term "orangery" is very unfamiliarity in common conversation. The term "orangery" aptly reflects its original use - a building where citrus trees were wintered. Tender plants and trees are moved inside often from its summer spot of a warm brick "fruit wall", the purpose of the orangery was to protect these plants from frost. A stove or fireplace is often found in the structure in order to keep mitigate the cold winters of northern Europe and more recently here in the United States.

Roof Lantern

The distinguishing feature of the orangery and the conservatory is the roof. Orangeries and conservatories typically will have a "roof lantern". Sun rooms, Florida rooms typically will not.

So What is a Garden Conservatory Then?

Typically an orangery was a separate structure, the garden conservatory, however, was a small room attached to the home. The distinguishing difference was the garden conservatory was meant to be part of the living space, whereas the orangery had one purpose - protection of the plants not living quarters.

And a Solarium?

If the room is attached to the home and not used to grow plants, the room is properly called a solarium. Again, this may be a glass roof but may not have the traditional "roof lantern".

United States Colloquial Term - Sun Room

Here in the United States, for the most part, in casual conversation, we will simplify all of this and simply refer to a room attached to the home as a sun room. Rarely do we add a room strictly for flowers (mega mansion do - but let's keep this down to earth).

Home Addition - Consider An Organgery with Lantern Roof

beautiful sun room or organgery

beautiful sun room or organgery

Gothic Home Addition aka Sun Room

beautiful sun room or organgery

beautiful sun room or organgery

beautiful sun room or organgery

beautiful sun room or organgery

Orangery or Roof Lantern in the Kitchen

beautiful sun room or organgery in a kitchen area

beautiful sun room or organgery in a kitchen area

Home Addition - Orangery in a Small Space Sun Room

beautiful sun room or organgery with a fireplace

beautiful sun room or organgery with a fireplace

Various Common Terms for Sun Rooms

  • Sunroom,
  • Florida room,
  • Patio room,
  • Sun porch,
  • Conservatory,
  • Solarium,
  • Greenhouse,
  • Garden room

What a sun room is not essentially is a "porch" or "lanai" which are always a three season room. A sun room could be either - three season or four season.

DIY Conservatory Customer Selection

Build It Yourself Conservatory

Conservatory Finial Fixing

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Animation of Conservatory Design

Four Season Sun Rooms

Four Season Beautiful Glass Room

Four Season Beautiful Glass Room

Four Season Beautiful Glass Room

Four Season Beautiful Glass Room

Victorian Conservatory with Lantern Roof

 beautiful sun room or organgery

beautiful sun room or organgery

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Materials and Parts of Orangery Conservatory Florida Room Sun Room

The materials and various parts of the orangery, conservatory, Florida Room or Sun Room are numerous and can include:

  • Glazed windows,
  • Double-paned insulating glass,
  • Wood or metal roof lanterns,
  • Metal frame materials,
  • Vents,
  • Sliding, folding doors or french doors,
  • Ridge crestings,
  • Finials.

Glazed Windows

Technology has taken an orangery to a more efficient heating and air conditioning level - the glazed windows combined with insulated glass makes the green living of this centuries old room very feasible. Often the windows are wood. Wood provides a luxurious feel with both style and warmth. Whatever your choice, the orangery is sure to be a timeless treasure for you and your family. Adding value and comfort to your every day lives and adding significant resale value to your property investment.

Double-Paned Insulating Glass

Technology provides the option of the original sheet metal and single-paned glazing or double-paned insulating glass. If you live in a harsh climate, pay for the upgrade to the double-paned glazed glass - this will save you money on your utilities in the long term. Additionally, check with your Accountant about a possible tax deduction. Energy efficiency is a key concern for the long term life of your project - your home.

Wood or Metal Roof Lanterns - Your Personal Preference

Your roof lantern can be built of either wood or metal. "Initially wood-framed in the 18th and 19th centuries, skylights became even more popular in metal constructions with the advent of sheet-metal shops during the Victorian era." The base of the structure was typically stone.

Metal Frame - Longer - Lasting Than Galvanized

Just as technology has upgraded the windows, so too, technology has provided better and longer lasting options for the materials. The galvanized originals were prone to pitting and had a shorter life span of newer metals.

Your metal options beyond wood include:

  • Aluminum,
  • cast iron,
  • copper,
  • zinc-coasted,
  • lead-coated copper, and
  • terne-coated stainless steel (TCSII)

And of course, the original wood is still a great option - do be concerned with condensation with the wood - this could dramatically change the maintenance and the lifespan of your new structure. Terne-coated stainless steel is a great choice if you are concerned with longevity. Terne-coated stainless steel is excellent for resisting corrosion in all environments. TCSII is said to be easy to work with - you can readily solder the joints and many have stated this type of material for roofing has been the best roofing ever!

Terne Tin

OK, I am curious too about "tern tin". What exactly is it? "Terne is an alloy coating of lead and tin used to cover steel - the terne coated steel is also known as terne metal and often referred to as "tin" (get the Slate Roof Bible). You can still buy terne-coated steel at any roofing supply place. We do not use it because it's better to use terne coated STAINLESS steel (TCS), or copper, when replacing terne metal roofs. Both TCS and copper will outlast terne metal and don't need painted until they reach about 50 years (if ever). Terne metal needs painted immediately or it will rust and it has to be painted regularly. If it is kept painted, it will last a long time (90 years)."[1]

Sliding Folding Doors - French Doors

Sliding folding doors are a great addition commonly found in the more temperate portions of the United States. The sliding doors allow the entire side of the room to be open to the patio or garden.


Don't forget the vents! Add windows or vents at the very top for added air circulation.

Finials and Ridge Crestings

The "ridge cresting" is an unusual ornamental design for your roof lantern. Additionally, the ridge crestings many now also offer a source of air flow/ventilation. Look for ridge cresting in various materials and design and check out the addition of a vent at the very top of your roof lantern. Remember, day light and added air flow both contribute equally to the comfort level of your room. Having natural sun light without a method to vent the room properly may make your room insufferable during in climate seasons. Plan ahead and you will be pleased with your long-term investment in your home. The final is the end architectural piece offering to highlight the apex of a gable at the corner of the structure.

Orangeries - Multi-Purpose Living Space - Kitchen Extensions

From kitchen extensions to adding light and air to a small living room, the orangery with its lantern roof and finials adds both character and charm to the exterior of the home but also serves to change the entire character of a home by making the orangery the prime living space. The sunlight, the air flow are exaggerated in this room - completing a house into a home with nature within your own abode.

The Benefits of a Kitchen Orangery

A kitchen orangery with one large roof lantern will serve to flood your kitchen with light similar to an atrium. Enjoying natural light with added ventilation will make your kitchen no matter what size a bright and airy space for your entire family. This gathering place for your family is a superb place to add light were task lighting is critical. The kitchen is really the heart of the home, make the center of your home shine with natural light that only an orangery with the magnificence of the roof lantern can create.

History of the Orangery- 16th Century Italy

The orangery dates back to the 16th century. It spread quickly from Italy to the northern European countries. The Italians invented the orangery. Originally conceived as an unheated building facing south with tiled roofs. Nowadays, the roofs on orangeries are commonly "lantern roofs" which we will detail a little later on. When this popular room spread to Europe, it was the Dutch who first found this new living quarters a great expression of bringing the outdoors in. It was the Dutch who added heating and the glass roofs. It was the English, however, who took the orangery to a fashion frenzy. The English has perfected the architecture, but we must never forget the invention was first and foremost an Italian design. Of course, if we recall, it was the Romans who invented Roman baths - used for both public bathing and socializing. So it is no wonder, the Italians would invent the orangery.

Stone-Built Orangeries with Lantern Roofs - Forerunner to Conservatories

The original orangeries in the United Kingdom were stone foundations with large sliding sash windows and lantern roofs. Built from timber and commonly painted white. A common addition to stately English homes. The tradition continues here in the United States and the popularity is spreading. Once common as a Florida room, in the state of Florida, the Midwestern and Eastern United States are quickly catching on to this popular way of living. Bringing the outdoors in has been a California and Florida tradition which is greatly welcomed by the rest of the United States.

Protection of Valuable and Exotic Plants and Fruits

The original purpose of the orangery was to protect exotic and valuable plants - commonly citrus trees. The harsh winters would destroy delicate plants and trees. The creation of this room with its size to accommodate "trees" allowed these treasures to be cherished year after year.

My Favorite Type of Orangery

While the pool room has my attention, and the small living room is charming and delightful, I am drawn to the kitchen. Including a lantern roof in the kitchen provides an openness to this hard working center of the home.

My last home, I had skylights in both the kitchen, living and the master bedroom. The combination of the vaulted ceilings with the skylights changed everything. And while my son said he would never want skylights, I must confess, I disagree. My son worried about the skylights leaking - that was thankfully never a problem. The light from those skylights changed the entire appearance of that home.

Add a Skylight - Add a Lantern Roof

If you are seeking home improvement, strongly consider the addition of skylight or a lantern roof at least to one room. The change I promise will be dramatic, the returns will be more than the bank dividends. Bringing the natural sun light into your room - even if you don't have citrus trees is a great home improvement addition.

Rectangular Roof Lantern - Hipped with Sides

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Pool House Skylight - Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

Roof Lantern

"custom side glass pattern and operable windows - remotely opened by electric motors - as well as upgraded high-performance, low-E roof glass"

"custom side glass pattern and operable windows - remotely opened by electric motors - as well as upgraded high-performance, low-E roof glass"

Roof Lanterns

The term "roof lantern" refers to a multi-paned glass structure that replaces the roof. The express purpose is to bring natural light into the home. A large skylight you might say - absolutely, yes! The term "roof lantern" is derived from the lighted lantern that used to adorn the top of the Japanese tax cabs. These lights were designed specifically to mimic the traditional Japanese lantern. Try as I might, no photos of these original Japanese Taxicab lanterns were available on the Internet. If you obtain or are able to obtain a photo - please let us know - a visual is worth a thousand words.

Partial Sun Room - Add Roof Lantern

In the home improvement world as well as in property taxes, adding square footage is expensive. As an alternative, consider adding a roof lantern. Roof lanterns are economical in comparison and yet, provide natural sun light and added air circulation to the home. Yes, the cost of a full scale orangery or conservatory can be quite weighty. So why not consider add a roof lantern to your living room or to your kitchen. Look at the examples and take away some great design ideas.

Tiny Living Room - Wall of Windows

The design with the tiny living room with the wall of windows and the small partial roof lantern changes the entire complexity of both the room and the home. Make the most of a small space and bring the natural sun light into your home!

Roof Lantern - Interior and Exterior Views

Roof Lantern Interior View

Roof Lantern Interior View

elegant Renaissance Conservatories roof lantern also features the latest high-performance glass, ensuring that the wintry cold stays outside where it belongs. Photo: courtesy of Renaissance Conservatories

elegant Renaissance Conservatories roof lantern also features the latest high-performance glass, ensuring that the wintry cold stays outside where it belongs. Photo: courtesy of Renaissance Conservatories

Roof Lantern - Glass Roofs - Skylights - Sources

Roof Lanterns

Welcome! We offer a fine selection of roof lanterns, conservatories, glass roofs, and skylights for your home or business. Roof lanterns add architectural interest without the cost of a full-size conservatory or sunroom. For a free price quote, fill out our Quick-Quote form!

A well-designed roof lantern can be the crowning jewel for any home or business at an affordable price. Capture the natural light of the sun during the day and the glow of the moon and stars at night.

Roof lanterns are an accessible and affordable alternative to many conventional roofing or housing projects. Custom designs are available that are skillfully engineered with high quality products.

A roof lantern is the top of a standard-model conservatory and can be installed on most roof tops. We also manufacture and sell Victorian, Edwardian, and British style conservatories.

Sun Room Sources

Home Depot

Choose The Home Depot for your sunroom, patio or shade cover installation.

  • The Home Depot offers the widest selection of beautiful, top-quality sunroom and screenroom systems or custom solutions to fit your home, style and budget.
  • Trust The Home Depot to provide professional design, top-quality materials and complete installation with start-to-finish project management.
  • All our structures are made of sturdy, maintenance-free aluminum that provides the look of wood without the hassles. You'll never have to paint or worry about splits, cracks, rot or insects.
  • A wide range of ways to pay for your new sunroom, patio or shade covers with our flexible financing options.

Quiz on Orangery History

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Organgery is originally credited to which country in Europe?
    • Italy
    • Norway
    • Holland
    • England
  2. Which century does Wikipedia detail the organgery dates back to?
    • 12th century
    • 15th century
    • 16th century
    • 18th century
  3. Typically built of stone, the organgery was always oriented to:
    • The South
    • The North
    • The West
    • The East
  4. Organgeries today typically have this type of roof?
    • Tile Roof
    • Lantern Roof
    • Open Roof
  5. Organgeries were created for the purpose of?
    • Protecting exotic plants during the winter
    • Providing sunlight during the winter
    • Housing orange trees
    • All of the above - 1, 2 and 3
  6. The term "roof lantern" is essentially a skylight?
    • Yes
    • No
  7. The term "roof lantern" is derived from the visual of the Japanese Lantern?
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. Italy
  2. 16th century
  3. The South
  4. Lantern Roof
  5. All of the above - 1, 2 and 3
  6. Yes
  7. True

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 2 correct answers: OK, we must ask "Did you even try?!"

If you got between 3 and 4 correct answers: Keep your day job - this needs some work!

If you got 5 correct answers: Very Good!

If you got 6 correct answers: Excellent!

If you got 7 correct answers: Brilliant! Absolutely at the top of your class!

Sun Rooms on Amazon

Sun Room Additions - Conservatory Organgery or Greenhouse

All sunrooms are wonderful but there is something regal that only the orangery can provide. As designers often say the delight is in the details and this is especially true for the many architectural elements that the orangery brings to the standard sunroom.

In home design we have experienced a strong movement into quality finishes - from granite countertops to stainless appliances but we have also seen a trend towards opulence with higher ceilings and spacious ensuites. I believe the next trend in home design will be an upgrade to the Florida room; consumers will if given the option of a basic sunroom or an orangery - they will always opt for the fine details that only the orangery can provide. Yes, both the standard sunroom and the orangery provide natural sunlight and added air ventilation but only the orangery can offer a timeless design option.

After all, do we really need a wrap around porch, granite countertops, crown molding, wood floors? I, myself, would opt first and foremost for the orangery. Why? Because I am forever drawn to the historic elegance of the English manor homes. And the orangery allows me to not only bask in the sunlight but celebrate the history of our forefathers and elegance of home design.

A word of caution, not all sunrooms will provide a return on your investment. Study your market, know your numbers before any construction project. Your home is more than a place you reside, for most of us, our home is also our largest investment. Choose wisely and your home's market value will pay you dividends. Remember the one who makes the most money in real estate is usually the smallest house in the nicest neighborhood. Never over improve your home, invest wisely and your home will pay you dividends.


© 2010 Ken Kline


Ken Kline (author) from Chicago, Illinois on February 09, 2015:

Hi Denisha,

Orangeries, sun rooms, whatever you wish to called them are always loved.

Thank you so much for stopping by and contributing.

Denisha on February 01, 2015:

Keep it coming, wreitrs, this is good stuff.

Ken Kline (author) from Chicago, Illinois on May 20, 2014:

Rough Brothers,

I love hearing from contractors - especially contractors whose specialty pertains to the hub at hand. Thank you so much for sharing! We don't see conservatories designs as often as I feel we should.

Rough Brothers on May 19, 2014:

Thanks for such wonderful information list. Visit out page for more conservatory designs .

Ken Kline (author) from Chicago, Illinois on June 26, 2013:

H Matt!

Thank you so much for contributing. I always enjoy hearing from someone in the field. Your enthusiasm is wonderful! Where are you located? Contact information?

Matt Bridges on April 26, 2013:

SkyView Solutions offers all of these amazing products throughout the US. Check out our website at

So many companies have closed their doors, leaving homeowners to wonder who they can turn to when their conservatory needs maintenance or repair.

SkyView Solutions is THE solution!

We have extensive knowledge about the construction of many specific manufacturers products, including UPVC, aluminum and hardwood structures.

A wide range of services are available- all designed to help your glass enclosure reach its potential.

From small tweaks to complete overhauls, we have you covered.

Our services are precisely what you need. Our unique skills and expertise will increase the lifespan of your conservatory or glass enclosure, making them look and perform like new again.

We're equipped to handle any problem to bring your conservatory and windows back to life.

Proper maintenance is essential to maintain the performance, integrity and beauty of your investment.

Whatever your situation and the challenges you face, we have solutions!

We are experts at:

Scheduled maintenance plans to keep your existing structure beautiful and trouble free

Glass cleaning to keep your view unobstructed and your glass beautiful

Replacement and repairs of componants including glass, seals, motorized window and vent openers, shade systems and more

Leak troubleshooting and repairs to keep the elements outside, and your home and sunroom from water damage

Rehabilitation and replacement of aged and rotted wood

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on February 13, 2011:

Joyce F,

This Hub was fun to put together - I find the outdoors dreamy and the rooms showcase the natural beauty that only Mother Nature can bring indoors.

Joyce F from USA on February 13, 2011:

Brilliant home improvement hub. I love bringing the outdoors in and orangeries an conservatories are a great way to do that. Beautiful hub.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on December 03, 2010:

Mark Osborne,

I love orangeries - never knew the terms before. My dream home would certainly have one! And your specialty is exactly what I love - thank you so much for stopping by.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on December 03, 2010:

Mark Osborne,

I love orangeries - never knew the terms before. My dream home would certainly have one!

Mark Osborne on December 02, 2010:

Hi reviewer,

You post different image of orangery and write some of topic on that.I read that and can know many benefits of orangery.


johnpaint from Portland,OR Vancouver,WA area on October 28, 2010:

These are fantastic looking, let me know if you need a painting contractor in Portland,OR area.John

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on September 23, 2010:


Yes, they do add value and without adding square footage or adding to your property taxes here in the US (for most taxing districts the add'l tax is added square footage and/or bathroom fixtures).

I love these beautiful additions - sunshine is my favorite.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on September 23, 2010:

These are beautiful additions to a home. They also add value to your home.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on September 20, 2010:

@Morgan F,

The photos were fun to hunt for - hope you enjoyed. I want a sun room - how delightful!


You live in the sun shine! How sublime! Glad you enjoyed the photos. I never really knew the differences before - fun information to hunt down. I love sun shine so really any room will do with tons of windows - although the roof lantern rather caught my attention. Thank you for stopping by.

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on September 20, 2010:

I've always had a love for conservatories, but never had one. Course, don't need one now, being in Florida. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. Lynda

Morgan F from USA on September 20, 2010:

Beautiful pictures in this hub! I have a sun room in my house I love it!

Thanks for the fan mail btw :)

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on September 20, 2010:

Peggy W,

I had barely heard of conservatory let alone an orangery - the research was fascinating and very much fun! I think it is a culture thing - here in the US everything is a sun room and the modern homes here commonly don't need the Victorian architecture of the lantern roof.

I think the lantern roof is a very cool idea.

I agree - the autumn leaves - oh my! Love that one.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing.

I want a sun room!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 20, 2010:

Orangeries is a new term that I just learned from your hub. Always fun learning new things! The first house that my Dad built in Wisconsin had a sunroom. I LOVED the photo of the four season sun room that had the autumn leaves on those trees. Gorgeous sight! Rating this useful.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on September 20, 2010:

H P,

While writing this Hub, I couldn't stop thinking what YOU in particular would think of this Hub! I knew India cornered the market on sun and would have a special point of view!

Thank you my dear, dear friend.

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on September 20, 2010:

‘Sun Room’ is essential in cold country like US, but we in India don’t require such room because it is everywhere sunny and hot. Thanks for sharing.

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