Aug 10, 2017

Brighten Up Your Conservatory (Part 1)

The birds are singing, the sun is shining and goodness me, is that the aroma of badly burnt meat in next doors garden?

Yes, the summer is here.

Never mind the first cuckoo of Spring, it’s now all about when you hear the first lawnmower of the year. And, whilst we all like to hear the peaceful churrrr-churrrr of a hand operated one, its more than likely going to be the rattling cacophony of one of Hayter’s finest that you find the chap at No.26 pushing up and down his front lawn.

Gives you a warm feeling inside doesn’t it? On the other hand, that might have come from the sausage you’ve just blagged from next door.

Burnt to charcoal on the outside, pink and cold on the inside.


This is also the time of year that sees us, once again, take up refuge in a room that, for the most part, is pretty much abandoned and disregarded for seven or eight months of the year.

It becomes a dumping ground, a place to put furniture and accessories that can’t, or won’t, belong anywhere else.

It’s the room that has a flamboyant mix of chairs in it. You know, “just incase people come round”. A mix of garden chairs, armchairs, upright chairs, those nasty chairs made to look as if a film director would sit in one and the Shackleton's high seat chair (it’s lovely) that your wife inherited from her Auntie.

A room that you don’t so much stride through with an air of confidence as carefully edge through, mindful of the corner of that glass coffee table that might as well have a roundel painted on it,  or the former treadmill that is now a convenient clothes horse, an expensive and ugly piece of hardware that’s been wedged up tight against the wall, its stubby legs perfect for rapping into your shins as you gingerly walk past, aware that any one of the 471 pairs of shoes strewn across the floor is waiting, just waiting, to trip you up.

Where, you ask, can there be such interior chaos?

That would be the Conservatory.

They were huge in the 1970's Why? Well, it was the backlash after all those cheap flights and holidays out to the Med that everyone was taking at the time. Eating late and eating al fresco, drinking wine, listening to Gordon Giltrap and generally doing totally outrageous things like sitting outside on “...what the Spaniards call a pat-IO darling, it means an outside courtyard”

“And we’re going to have one”.

Thus, for every patio laid upon the groaning back lawns of suburbia, a conservatory did surely follow, a palace of pallid plastic and glass.

Early versions of Britain’s attempts to live a continental lifestyle were, let’s be honest, a little bit dodgy.

But they’re pretty much part of the domestic establishment now, a welcome place of extra space and light.

The trouble is, we have this tendency to use them as the overflow so, rather than providing us with all that extra space to stretch our legs, read a book and take in the garden, we now see them as storage space. At least, that is, until June, when some bright spark in the family comments that, seeing as it’s such a nice day, why don’t we take our supper out into the Conservatory?

Which is fine. Except you’ll end up eating your Pappardelle as you gaze out onto a garden which is now full of all the furniture you’ve had to take out of your conservatory so you can sit down in it and enjoy a summer evening.

So look. Let’s give your conservatory the respect it deserves.

Starting today.

One of the most important facts to take into consideration when it comes to a conservatory is that it doesn’t have to look anything like the rest of your house.

I’m not kidding. It’s a room that you should use to exercise your imagination, to be a little arty, creative, even quirky with.

So yes, have a living room and bedrooms that are a conservative mix of white walls, pine furniture and a scatter cushions from John Lewis.

Nothing wrong with that.

But how about being a little bit daring in the conservatory? Don’t let it be the missionary position of rooms in your house, check out the Homebase Karma Sutra and look for something a little more edgy.

Look at introducing some colours that reflect the nature that you’re trying to bring into your home, that very same nature that the room allows you to be part of.

So how about choosing from a pastel of light blues, greens, yellows and even that earthenware favourite, terracotta?

Make it a room that’s striking, one that people are taken back by whenever they go into it, a space that makes a statement, that says something about you.

Don’t get all twisted up in that oh-so-British thing about needing to have approval from others for whatever you’re doing. A conservatory should be all about you.

There are those who will say a conservatory needs to be an extension to the home.

An approach that we dismiss most equivocally.

If you’re bringing the outside in as a matter of course-and there seems little point, again, in making your conservatory look like the rest of your home, remember, this is your altar of outside living-then there should always be room for some plants in your newly revamped room.

And by this, we don’t mean a tiny little cactus tucked up and away on a long forgotten shelf or a withered bunch of something that passes for flowers from your local 24 hour petrol station.

Remember, you are thinking big and thinking outside and that means, cue shudder at horrible corporate phrase, but there you go, thinking outside of the box and that box is the rest of the home that you currently live in.

So look to get some big plants, foliage that, again, makes a statement.

You’d be surprised at just how good a big plant can look when its placed against an equally bold and colourful background. And we’ll show you examples in the blog that follows this one.

And talking of colourful....

If, as we suspect you might be, you’re focusing on using your conservatory as somewhere you can eat, either as a romantic twosome, with family or with friends, then what about making a focal point out of a piece of furniture that is often as neglected as the room itself, something that’s pushed up against a wall and forgotten.

That’s right, it’s your dining room table.

The now humble dining room table used to be the focal point of all rooms. Big, bold and in the middle, the rest of a room had to adapt to it, not the other way around. Why do you think all of the biggest and best companies in the world have a boardroom complete with a large table and chairs all around it?

Because it’s paying tribute to the dining room and the meetings that used to take place whenever a  family sat down to eat, the table where folk received and gave council with the head of the family, just as the chairman does today, sat at the head of the table.

There’s going to be a revolution. And it’s happening in your Conservatory. So keep reading...