Condo Blues: What Would You Choose: A Conservatory or a Sunroom?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Would You Choose: A Conservatory or a Sunroom?

I hate that summer is leaving because I will miss drinking coffee on my patio in the morning and enjoying the warmer summer sun. I am really going to miss the fresh herbs growing on my patio during the summer too. A UK friend suggested that I build a conservatory.

“A sunroom?” I asked.

“No”, he said, “a conservatory. You have conservatories in America, don’t you?”

In my mind, a home conservatory is very English and sunroom is more American because most of the people I know have sunrooms instead of conservatories. Although to be fair, a conservatory can be sunroom but not all sunrooms can be conservatories.

Confused yet?

I was until I did a little research.

It turns out that the difference between a sunroom and a conservatory is that a conservatory is a room with glass walls and a glass roof. When I lived in Miami, we called them Florida Rooms.

This is a conservatory. It has a glass roof.

A sunroom is a room with glass walls and a solid roof. There are DIY conservatories just as there are DIY sunrooms. You can make both of them into a four-season room with the right insulating windows, which is very important for me because I have winter. I’m told that the conservatory’s glass roof also lets more light into the room than a solid sunroom’s roof during overcast or winter days, a plus in my book as long as the material can withstand an Ohio winter, which I’m sure it can. UK folks, do any of you have any experience with this?

Since a conservatory has a see through roof, you can use a conservatory as a greenhouse. I remember one house in Florida that had a swimming pool in a conservatory. Very cool.

With our fascination with multitasking and demanding things do double duty (when was the last time you just made a telephone call on a cell phone?) it seems like there would be more people adding conservatories to their houses as sunrooms and greenhouses instead of a standard one use sunroom. Price wise the DIY options look fairly equal.

The thought of growing fresh herbs year round and enjoying my coffee on the patio year around makes me a lean toward conservatory over sunroom. And while I’m dreaming I’ll take the style with a little dormer too. What about you?