Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Make room to relax with a stylish conservatory

Yorkshire Post - 26th August 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at how to ensure your conservatory is a stylish and useful addition to your home.

We are frequently asked by clients how to ensure their conservatory is a space to be enjoyed all year round without being too hot in the summer or cold in winter. If we are working on a new design we deploy all of the latest technology (such as thermostatically controlled roof vents with rain sensors), but with a few adjustments any problem conservatory can be a wonderful addition to your home.Reasonable temperature and good ventilation are the keys to success.

Conservatories generate heat via solar gain; however, installing a heating system can extend the time you use it well into the evenings and winter months (particularly for a North facing room). Under-floor heating is especially useful, allowing a general flow throughout the room and ensuring your views and usable areas are uninhibited by radiators.It is also vital to have enough ventilation to prevent your room becoming stuffy, especially in South facing conservatories which tend to be exposed to longer hours of direct sunlight.

Jane Hindmast of Vale Garden Houses (; 01476 564433) advises that “you need to ensure cooler air enters the room through the sides, with hot air being expelled through the roof. Side ventilation can take the simple form of doors, side opening or top opening windows, with airflow being achieved through the use of roof vents, top hung windows or rising canopies.”

Ceiling fans also help control temperature. In the summer run them clockwise and reasonably fast to create a more directed down draft. In the winter reverse the direction of the fan and lower the speed to re-circulate warm air trapped at the top of roof without cooling it. Ensure your fan has blades large enough for the size of your conservatory; can run at variable speeds to allow maximum control and is not placed too near to the roof (to give it sufficient air to work with).

Blinds are not only decorative, but also help reduce heat and glare. Keep them simple so the focus remains on your exterior views and have blinds professionally made-to-measure to ensure the best fit. Sail cloth is a great fabric for ceiling panels and, if designed correctly, can be made to fold back so that they are barely visible when not in use. Roller blinds or wooden Venetian blinds are terrific for side windows and doors.

If choosing glass for a conservatory, opt for a specialist product such as Pilkington K Glass or Ultraframe’s Conservaglass which are designed to keep external heat out in the Summer, but reflect emissions from heating appliances back into the room in Winter. Both glasses also come in self-cleaning versions which will help preserve clear views and minimise maintenance.

Provide plenty of electrical points for flexible lighting from table lamps to maximise use throughout the year and add wall lights on dimmers to provide controllable ambience. A central ceiling hook that can carry considerable weight, with electrical provision, will allow you to include a feature chandelier (important if using your conservatory as a dining room) or a powerful fan.

To complete the look, furnishing should reflect the style of the rest of your home, with a nod to the outdoors. Remember it is a room, not an afterthought. Any furniture must be able to cope with rapid temperature change and heat. Avoid dark colours, especially reds, as these can quickly fade. Strong options are furniture made from Rattan (a climbing plant found in Malaysia) which is lightweight and durable or Lloyd Loom (a woven twisted paper wound around re-enforced wire) very popular in the 20s and 30s, but still cutting edge today. Consider the Babbington Range by Lloyd Loom of Spalding from £599. Upholstering your furniture in fabric designed for use outdoors will ensure both comfort and longevity.

Jamie Hempsall is a BIDA member and one of the region’s leading interior designers. See more hints and tips at his website or contact him on 01777 248463.

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