Modern conservatory ideas: 10 striking styles that stand out from the crowd

Far from bland, these modern conservatories will add wow factor to your home.

Conservatories are a popular way to extend a home, but they get some flack for being cold in winter and excruciatingly hot in summer. Thankfully, conservatory design has moved on since the mass-produced, throw-them-up structures of the 80s and 90s.  

These days they are far more thermally efficient and aesthetically pleasing. And you’ll be pleased to know there are modern conservatory ideas that challenge traditional conceptions, too. A frameless glass box, a striking black frame or an airy architectural roof – many modern conservatory styles today break the mould of uPVC conservatories of old.  

modern conservatory with corner opening sliding doorsCredit: Trombe / Jake Fitzjones photography

This selection of modern conservatory ideas will demystify conservatory design and show you how to add a wow-factor extension to your home.  

1. Add a solid roof with glazed panels

A hybrid roof can be thermally efficient and let in light

A fully glazed roof can cause glare and overheating. A completely solid roof can restrict light penetrating deep into the floorplan, which can render original rooms, like a kitchen, dark and dingy.

To avoid either scenario, modern conservatory ideas can embrace a hybrid roof. One that is solid in structure but is hole-punched by glazed panels. This gives you the best of both – a thermally efficient roof that can be insulated, combined with glazing that will allow light to bounce around the conservatory floorplan and beyond.  

This example from SEH BAC demonstrates how this style of roof has improved the contemporary credentials of this conservatory, built on a dwarf wall with three glazed sides. 

2. Opt for sliding or bifold doors

Door style can create a modern aesthetic

French doors are synonymous with more traditional-style conservatories. To create an ultra-modern style, opt for bifold or sliding doors. This will instantly add a fashionable twist to the exterior and create a more seamless connection to your outside space.  

If you want slimmer sightlines (fewer frames to impede your view) then sliding doors are a good option. But bear in mind that they slide on top of each other to open, so if the aperture isn’t that wide, the opening might be on the narrower side. Similarly, bifolds need space to stack together outside when open, so make sure you have room to accommodate this. However, bifolds open up the entire width of the opening, which will give you a fantastic connection to the garden.

3. Illuminate the space with modern lighting

Add layered lighting to create a homely room

Lighting is a key part of any room and should be included at the design stages. This applies to conservatory lighting, too. It is a room you’ll want to use all year round, both during the day and at night, so getting the lighting right is important. Gone are the days when you had to have a central light and fan combination to light and cool the room. Today, modern conservatories incorporate functional overhead lighting as well as ambient lighting, like lamps, to help change the mood as the day goes on.  

Adding a boxed plinth around the underside of the roof, even if it is glazed, provides the opportunity to hide wires for a circuit of spotlights, for example. This Ultraframe conservatory shows how this works. The interior will feel more like part of your home, especially if the lighting mimics what you have in adjoining rooms.  

Do consider how lighting at night will impact the conservatory 

“When it comes to a modern conservatory, it can be difficult to avoid it looking like a dark hole at night with the glazing becoming like a mirror,” says Luke Thomas, design director from John Cullen Lighting.

“By simply lighting something beyond the glass your eye is drawn out further. Think of lighting the paving just outside as well as flower beds or trees. This is a great way to bring out the colours in your garden, creating a feature visible from the conservatory at night.” 

Traditional conservatories with a dwarf wall tend to have purpose-built steps leading you out onto the garden because the floors aren’t level with each other. 

A level threshold, as you might expect, means the floor between the conservatory and the garden is on the same level. Modern conservatory designs tend to include a level threshold. The structure either features full-height glazing and no dwarf wall or plinth, or a platform, like decking, that is built up to meet the threshold of the conservatory.  

Not only does a level threshold create a seamless connection to the garden, where one space flows into the other, but it makes moving from inside and out more accessible. It’s a safer option for wheelchair users, pets and children to move from one space to the other.  

5. Embrace open-plan design

Merge spaces with a contemporary conservatory extension

Extending your home gives you the chance to go open plan. For example, you can extend your kitchen into your conservatory to embrace a multi-functional space. “Open-plan, modern conservatories are very impressive and make for a lovely social space,” says William Durrant, owner of Herringbone kitchen company.   

“How well the space works open plan comes down to considering how you will use the space every day,” says Durrant. “If you’re linking a conservatory extension to your kitchen, for example, an island is almost essential to this space because it joins the rooms together and adds sociable seating.”  

For a harmonious design, choose the same conservatory flooring throughout the entire space. “For a very modern design, opt for the uniformity of porcelain,” suggests Tom Clifford from Westminster Stone 

6. Pair a modern conservatory with a period home

Choose a contemporary conservatory to add a ‘time stamp’

If you live in a period property, you might think your only option is to add a traditional-style conservatory. Of course, the traditional aesthetics of an orangery or an Edwardian design will work well. But adding a modern design isn’t out of the question. “Modern conservatories can work on period properties if you carefully consider the architectural style and aesthetics of the host [existing] building,” says Karen Bell, creative director at David Salisbury. 

Adding a modern structure also enables you to add a time stamp to your property. You’re capturing the essence of design in the 21st century, alongside the period your existing home was built.  

“A contemporary conservatory can be designed and integrated in a way that complements the existing structure while adding a modern touch,” suggests Bell. “The use of appropriate materials, colours and design elements can help maintain the character of the period property. While incorporating modern features creates a harmonious and functional space.” 

7. Raise the ceiling height with a gable end

A vaulted ceiling will add grandeur

A gable end is often used in modern conservatory ideas and design. It consists of a gable roof – two flat sides coming together to form an inverted ‘V’ shape – and a gable end, which is the ‘wall’ underneath. Although the design is simple, including a glazed gable roof and end wall can help encourage light deeper into the floorplan.  

The pitch of a gable roof creates a vaulted ceiling. This raises the height of the room internally and adds grandeur to the room. The pitch creates a ridge that runs along the roofline, which can include feature pendant lighting for dramatic effect. This design works well if the conservatory is on the smaller side, too, as the raised roof can give the illusion of space. 

8. Add architectural merit to the roof

Incorporate a radical roof shape for impact

The roof can add so much character to a building. It’s functional – keeping us warm and dry – but it needn’t be boring. Modern conservatory ideas can be adorned with an architectural roof that adds character and form. Externally, a hipped roof (which has four sloping sides) can, for example, include a multi-hipped roof, like the design shown above by Mozolowski and Murray. It’s a modern take on an Edwardian style conservatory.  

Angular roofs like this can add dimension and form internally, too. As well as adding to the aesthetics of the roof inside, the shape will cast patterns and shadows as the light moves over the room throughout the day.

9. The modern glass box

A frameless design ups the style stakes

As designs have evolved, there are many styles that are loosely categorised as a conservatory. The glass box is one example. Structural glass means glass box additions have very little in the way of structural frames. This is because the glass has been produced to take a lot of the load.

Also referred to as ‘frameless glazing’, a glass box is fixed to the existing house with hidden mechanisms. This ensures it doesn’t look bulky or untidy. Consequently, these streamlined structures are built bespoke, so you can effectively request any size.

10. Go bold with a dark frame

Black or anthracite grey frames add character to modern conservatory ideas

 Although white-framed conservatories can be modern in design, black or anthracite grey-framed conservatories are a contemporary trend. And even if you go for a more traditional structure – a Victorian or Edwardian inspired design, for example – dark frames can elevate it into the realms of the present-day.  

In the example above, this small conservatory has a modern yet rustic charm. The exposed brick dwarf wall and elegant wood burner are set against a striking black frame that accentuates the character. The neutral grey porcelain tiles from Westminster Stone lighten the space and pair well with the black frame.  

What makes a conservatory modern? Karen Bell from David Salisbury explains the key design principles

A modern conservatory is a structure that seamlessly integrates contemporary design elements while still fulfilling its primary function as a living space, to relax in and enjoy all year round,” says Bell. 

“The key design principles that contribute to a modern conservatory include: 

  •  complementary design features
  • the incorporation of energy-efficient materials
  • maximising natural light
  • ensuring a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. 

“One crucial aspect is frame design. The colour of the frame often tends to be neutral or monochromatic, such as white, black or grey, allowing the focus to remain on the surrounding greenery and the architecture itself.”

The roof of a modern conservatory is typically fully glazed,” explains Bell. “Large, expansive glass roofs are popular to maximise natural light intake, and create an open and airy feel. Additionally, advanced glazing technology with low-emissivity coatings can help regulate indoor temperatures and minimise heat loss, making the conservatory more energy efficient.”

Glazing in the walls is another essential design consideration,” suggests Bell. “Full-height glazing or floor-to-ceiling windows are common in modern conservatories, helping to provide unobstructed views of the outdoors and create a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Modern conservatories also embrace technology and sustainability,” says Bell. “They may incorporate features like automated ventilation systems or shading solutions to control sunlight. 

Michelle Guy

Written by Michelle Guy she/her

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With an editorial career spanning more than 20 years, Michelle Guy has spent time working on educational magazines and websites as well as being a freelance copy editor for companies like BT, until her career pivoted, and she moved into and embraced the world of homes and interiors.  Working on magazines and websites including Homebuilding & Renovating, Real Homes and Period Living, Michelle honed her skills writing about all things renovation, extension and self-build. From interviewing homeowners to writing buyer’s guides, from sharing advice about kitchen renovations and extensions to design ideas for bathrooms, Michelle has written about a whole range of home improvement projects for discerning home improvers and keen DIYers alike.