Small kitchen conservatory ideas that bring in the light

These clever design tricks will help you get the most out of your small space.

Extending a small kitchen into a conservatory is a clever way to open two rooms into one and create an area that can be used for cooking and dining. And, if, like mine, your kitchen is the darkest room in your house, a kitchen conservatory can bring in much-needed light. 

Follow our tips on how to get the most out of a small kitchen conservatory to make all the elements work hard, so you get the most out of the space.  

Light-filled, white kitchen conservatoryCredit: Shutterstock/Mike Higginson
A small kitchen conservatory can help open up your space and bring in light

1. A lean-to can open-up the space

Perfect for small gardens

Lean-to conservatories are suitable if you have limited garden space, where a large-scale conservatory may not fit. But while a lean-to-conservatory may be on the smaller side, they can still provide ample space to extend a kitchen. Especially if the two spaces are seamless and any walls are removed.

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A lean to conservatory kitchen with an urban lookCredit: Devol
The side area of this house is used to extend the kitchen into a lean-to conservatory

Karen Bell, sales director at David Salisbury says: “A small lean-to conservatory can open up a kitchen space filled with natural light, creating an airy and inviting room. Positioning it adjacent to the kitchen, visually expands the area and provides extra room for dining or additional storage. The seamless connection between the kitchen and conservatory enhances the overall living space. And it brings the outside closer to the inside of the home.”

Imagine a kitchen island that extends into your lean-to, bringing the two spaces together while giving you a view of your garden while you cook. The glass roof will also bring in light, making it an ideal place to position prep areas in the kitchen, rather than designing them in darker corners of the space that don’t gain much light.

If you’re keen to create a real connection between your conservatory and garden, opt for bifold doors. Architects Resi, believe bifold doors are a must-have in a small kitchen conservatory, as they can create a wide access point that opens up onto a garden – letting in light while creating a perfect view for when you’re dining.

A wide conservatory feature bifold doors leading out into the gardenCredit: Mozolowski and Murray
Bifold doors within this wide, but small space, create a seamless link between inside and out

Virginia Murray, director of sales and marketing at Mozolowski and Murray, says, “Bifold doors, when fully opened, take up less space than traditional doors. This is crucial in a small kitchen conservatory where every inch matters.” 

Another advantage of bifold doors is that they can open up a whole side of your conservatory without the unsightly look of doorframes spoiling your garden view. This seamless transition into the garden can also work beautifully if similar colour tones are chosen for the conservatory flooring and outside patio, blending one into the other. If you opt for a conservatory design with a level threshold – where the conservatory floor and outside patio meet – you’ll have no awkward step to trip over while you’re carrying afternoon tea into the garden. 

3. Embrace the glass roof

Let the light flood in

“A fully glazed conservatory can help open up a small room and flood it with natural light, helping to create an impression of a more expansive space,” says Bell. “The glass walls and roof maximise light penetration, making the area feel brighter and more inviting.”  

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Aerial view of a black-framed conservatory extending off the back of a modern houseCredit: Ultra Frame
This fully glazed roof allows the light to flood into this space

In a small kitchen conservatory clever design tricks can be used to increase the sense of space by embracing the roof, such as incorporating a doubleheight ceiling.  “Raising the roofline or incorporating vaulted ceilings can immediately make a room feel more spacious,” says Murray. “The vertical expanse draws the eye upward, creating a sense of grandeur and openness, even in confined spaces. 

4. Design for a compact space

Think outside the box

“With a small kitchen conservatory, it’s all about maximising space,” says William Durrant, owner of Herringbone Kitchens. “When it comes to your work surface, make sure you invest in items that don’t take up too much space, such as a hot tap.” 

Multi-functional appliances, such as boiling water taps, offer cold, hot and boiling water, so there’s no need to have a kettle sitting on your worktop. When space is at a premium, an integrated downdraft extractor fan is a wise choice as it doesn’t require wall space. 

Brass hot tap over an inset sink on a whote worktopCredit: Herringbone
A water boiling tap eliminates the need for a kettle and saves space in a small kitchen conservatory

Storage is always a prime concern in any kitchen and should be carefully considered when combining two small spaces in one. Make the most of full-height walls in the original part of your house and go for tall cabinets. In the conservatory, take advantage of the windows and opt for low-level cabinets. This will also encourage light to flood in. An island unit with seating on one side and storage on the other is an ideal combination in a small conservatory kitchen. 

Kitchen and dining area within a conservatoryCredit: David Salisbury
In this kitchen conservatory the space below the window (on the right) has been designed to include a working area with a view out onto the garden. The island unit also doubles-up as a seating area.

Size down on furniture

If your space is small, think about the dimensions of your dining table and chairs. There’s no joy in squeezing between a wall and a table to sit down for a meal, let alone getting back out once you’ve eaten. Size down on these elements. But if you need a larger table for the odd occasion, choose one with an extending section.

This allows you to keep it compact for everyday use. Bench seating is another compact option for occasional use, which can be mixed with chairs for the days when you want more comfort.

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5. Turn your conservatory into a dining area

Dine with a view

Glass architect Trombe suggests turning a small conservatory into a dining area, giving you a room with a view. And if it’s well insulated, there’s no reason why you can’t dine in your conservatory all year round.  

Dining room table shown with a view out of a conservatory into a gardenCredit: Trombe
Dine with a view and turn your conservatory area into an all-year eatery

“A fully glazed conservatory extension requires careful design to ensure that it is comfortable and economical to use all year round,” says Noelle Hughes, architect at Trombe. “It’s important to prevent excessive heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.” She also says that the conservatory’s orientation, design, shading and selection of materials will play a part in the building’s efficiency. 

6. Consider the flooring

Blend one space into another

The flooring can play a big part in joining one room to another, creating a smooth transition between two small spaces. But how do you design the flooring when you’ve got two rooms to think about? “If you want to keep the flow, use the same tiles across both spaces,” says Abbas Youssefi, director at Porcelain Superstore. “If you want to create an area that feels like its own space, pick a different style.” 

Kitchen and dining areas split into two images with rustic stylingCredit: Westminster Stone
Using the same flooring in each space will bring the area together, creating a seamless flow. Westminster Stone’s stonecast Hidcote paving is featured here

And what flooring should you choose?

Whether you’re choosing flooring for a small kitchen conservatory or a larger space, in a high-traffic area – where you’re preparing food and going in and out of the garden – the flooring must be durable, easy to clean and non-slip. 

Youseffi suggests picking porcelain tiles with an appropriate slip rating, suggesting a rating of R10 is suitable for a kitchen floor. Porcelain tiles also have the advantage of being non-porous, making them easy to clean and stain- resistant. 

Slip rating explained

Slip ratings are given a value between R9 and R13, with the ‘R’ standing for ‘ramp test’. R9 is the lowest ranking and would cover tiles in a dry area, such as a living room, while R13 is the highest slipresistance and would be suitable for use in public areas such as swimming pools. 

Natural stone flooring is another option, so although it’s priced at the high end, it could be feasible for a small space. It will need waxing or sealing before use. Tom Clifford, general manager at Westminster Stone says, “Natural stone is popular, but be aware of sandstone, which can be slippery when wet. Limestone is a better option for a kitchen.” 

“Reproduction stone flooring is another option,” says Clifford. “It’s naturally non-slip and is suitable for use with underfloor heating, and the texture and character provide instant warmth.”  

Apart from thinking about the interior, consider how the flooring will link with the outside. Choosing a material that will match your patio – to ease the transition between the house and garden – will also give an illusion of a larger space, as your small conservatory kitchen will flow into your garden. Sandstone or porcelain will work well for this scenario but be sure to select a non-slip version. 

7. Choose a light colour palette

Open up the space 

When faced with a small area to decorate, it can be difficult to know what colour scheme to pick – do you go light and bright or dark and cosy? Where a small snug might suit a rich, dark colour scheme to create a comfy atmosphere, we’d always suggest going light and bright for a small kitchen conservatory.  

Rustic kitchen within a light lean-to conservatoryCredit: Shutterstock/Mike Higginson
Light walls and cabinetry open up this small kitchen conservatory, with a splash of colour added with the chair and pendant lights

Sarah Harley, Saga Exceptional’s homes writer, says: “If you’re wondering about the best colour to choose for your cabinets, there’s no doubt that a lighter colour palette will help a small space feel bigger. If you’re keen on making it feel as large as possible, consider using a colour-drenching technique and choose the same colour for your cabinets and walls. Removing the boundaries that are created when you use different colours, helps trick the eye into believing the space is larger.” 

But what if white isn’t your thing? “Even if you’re not a fan of the all-white approach,” says Harley, “paler pastels or light, natural woods will all help to achieve the same effect, making your small space seem far bigger than you thought.” 

Harley has another handy tip and suggests using handle-free doors so that the kitchen feels almost seamless in design. 

Do I need planning permission for a kitchen conservatory?

Probably not

Across the UK, conservatories (accept Scotland, where some exceptions apply) come under permitted development rights, which means it’s unlikely you’ll need to apply for full planning consent. However, permitted development rights for conservatories don’t usually apply if you live in a maisonette, flat, listed building or reside in a conservation areas, so it’s always worth checking with your local planning authority before building work begins.  

Resi has a video that explains more about permitted development rights

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Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her

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With her 30 years of experience, Camilla Sharman has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader.