15 small conservatory ideas: smart approaches to design and decor

Big doesn’t always mean better. Small conservatories can be just as impactful

Whether it’s your favourite sunny spot or a well-used dining room, a conservatory has the potential to add value to both your life and your property price. But what if your conservatory is on the small side, or you only have a limited amount of space to build on?

Having a small space available and many needs is not always an easy equation to solve, and getting the design and décor right in small areas can sometimes be trickier than larger ones.

country cottage with turret and glass box infill conservatoryCredit: IQ Glass
A contemporary conservatory porch adds a wow factor

If this is your predicament, then help is at hand. The Exceptional Homes team is here to show you that with the right approach and careful consideration, less space doesn’t need to mean compromise when it comes to small conservatory design ideas.


1. Use leading lines

Elongate your kitchen with a linear design

When adding a small conservatory to provide valuable extra space in a kitchen, make sure all your design elements draw your eye toward the end of the room to create the illusion of length.

grey and white kitchen with chequered tile flooring and bench seating leading to a glass conservatoryCredit: Vale Garden Houses
Use design tricks to create the illusion of length

A chequerboard pattern on floors breaks up the linear lines of the kitchen unit drawers and cupboards, but still creates a sense of movement toward the doors.

Bench-style seating adds to the sense of length in the space, while the cabinetry provides an immediate visual link between the kitchen and dining space to help tie the rooms together.

2. Bring in light

Add a dome for dramatic effect

If you are fitting a conservatory in between two external walls, meaning you have less opportunity for windows, add a dome to your roof to create an additional light source.

cream wood and glass orangery style linking conservatory with domed roof featureCredit: David Salisbury

As well as allowing natural light to flood the room, the space beneath provides you with the perfect gallery style spot to display a favourite piece of furniture or a freshly picked bouquet of flowers.

Hanging a light fitting below that is made of glass, or a chandelier with glass droplets, will also create wonderful rainbows of light when the sun illuminates the space.


Is a small conservatory worth adding?

We asked Ash Lane, marketing designer at Vale Garden Houses, what advice he gives to customers who think that there’s no point adding a small conservatory. He believes it’s an unnecessary worry.

“In our experience, conservatories are frequently built in the most unlikely of places and a useful room can be created out of a previously unused part of a garden or courtyard,” says Lane. “Filling an awkward space or dark recess with an attractive functional room, no matter how small, is a great investment particularly when space is limited.”

3. Create a stylish entrance

Don’t hide your conservatory at the back of the house

country cottage with turret and glass box infill conservatoryCredit: IQ Glass
A contemporary conservatory porch adds a wow factor

While it’s often considered the norm to house your conservatory at the back or side of your property, why not create a striking new entrance with a conservatory porch?

Using a contemporary glass box design allows the original features of this beautiful red-brick cottage with turret to be seen and enjoyed, as well as providing a handy spot to sit and pop on your shoes before you leave.

4. Wind down with a window seat

Combine storage with comfort

Windows are undoubtedly the main focus of any conservatory, giving you a view outdoors and a healthy additional daily dose of light. What better way to take advantage of this than with the addition of a made-to-measure window seat.

built in window seat next to window with cream and blue nautical design themeCredit: Homebase
Enjoy sunshine and storage benefits with a built-in window seat

Paint it in lighter colours and match your wall finish to ensure the seat blends into the background and creates the illusion of more space. Dress it with upholstered padding and complementary cushions to create the perfect reading spot.

For an alternative to plants, while still giving a nod to the outdoors, choose a nautical theme with shades of blue, stripes and simple graphical artwork of your favourite beach locations.

5. Double up

Add a matching conservatory for twice the impact

If you’ve already added a kitchen extension, why not add a small matching conservatory to mirror the design?

rear of 3 storey brick house with two matching white conservatory extensions at ground levelCredit: David Salisbury
Double up and match materials for twice the impact

By matching architectural elements of your home’s exterior, such as gable ends, window colour, roof tiles and brick stock the finished result will create a pleasing symmetrical approach to small conservatory design.

6. Use a cohesive colour palette

Blend areas using complementary shades

If your conservatory is made of brick, instead of rendering and painting the interior walls, leave the brickwork exposed and make it the basis of your colour palette to unite the space. Creating natural communication through your colour palette will immediately trick your eye into feeling that the space is larger.

brick walled room with brightly colour wall, plants and conservatory furnitureCredit: Habitat
Use colour to create a sense of cohesion and space

Sticking to a simple colour palette of yellows, rusts and creams, along with natural materials such as raffia, wood and wicker, will help tie your small brick conservatory to your home.

While the use of a painted wall placed next to the brick may define the actual boundary, the clever design trick of extending the furniture and décor across both spaces helps to blur them into one. It’s a common common trick used by interior designers, as Rosie Ridgway interior designer at April Hamilton tells us:

“A good way to boost perceptions of space is to bring the décor of the adjoining room through to the conservatory with matching or complementary flooring. A well-chosen rug can bridge this gap; look for something that stretches beneath your furniture rather than something small that sits in the centre of the room like an island.”

Choosing furniture for a small conservatory

“It’s tempting to fill a conservatory with spare furniture from the garden or the rest of your home,” says Ridgway, “but with a more considered approach, you can create an enticing space that works hard for your family – no matter the size.

“Furniture should be selected with scale in mind. Large, heavy pieces will dwarf the space, whereas pieces with a more petite profile provide the same comforts but allow light to flow around and under them – all of which adds to the illusion of space.

A rule of thumb is that if it has to be pushed up against a wall in order to fit, it’s probably too big.”

7. Mirror your surroundings

Add grandeur to your small scheme with matching detail

Even a small conservatory can have a large personality when it’s finished with the right details.

small conservatory on back of house with turret style roof matching church tower in backgroundCredit: Vale Garden Houses
Add height and majestic detail for a grander impression

If your new room will sit in the shadow of a more majestic building, don’t be afraid to mimic the design in your new sunny spot. Elevating any design with extra height will also naturally make it feel bigger – even if it’s not.

8. Add a living wall

Cover an internal wall with foliage for a luscious feel

If your main reason for having a conservatory is that you can simply sit and enjoy the elements, go all out with a living wall backdrop.

large plant covered living wall with white and grey modern sofas and tableCredit: Daals
A living wall brings the outside in

Widely available in both real and faux formats, a bold statement such as this can become a real talking point in a small conservatory. A living wall also acts to draw the eye upward, distracting from your room’s footprint.

If you prefer a more Scandi approach to design, keep the rest of your design light and simple with outdoor-style sofas in clean finishes such as metal, add light-coloured soft furnishings, and panel walls made of limewashed wood, and ensure your flooring is bright and simple.

“A living green wall can instantly revitalize and inject vitality in the air,” agrees Ridgway. “Picture a vertical wall housing plants tailored to your size and specifications. It’s a lovely way to bring the outdoors in. Complement with accessories hand-picked from nature – stoneware, cotton and wool – and layer them up cosy faux-fur and lanterns as the seasons turn cooler.”

9. Choose width over depth

Use a triple frontage approach for extra space

If you would prefer to keep your garden footprint intact, think about adding a wider conservatory to the side return of your property to help extend your living space.

tripe frontage cream and glass orangery on rear of brick homeCredit: David Salisbury
Going wider can reduce the impact on garden space

Making the opening of the new design slightly wider than your current space naturally draws the eye outward. Using an orangery design, even for a smaller conservatory will flood the space with light.

Keep materials simple and use glass for larger items such as dining tables so that the overall feeling is one of openness.

inside view of orangery conservatory with glass furniture and views to the gardenCredit: David Salisbury
Use glass furniture to allow maximum light

10. Update your design

Choose a darker finish for striking effect

If you’ve got an existing small conservatory but don’t love the look or design of it, don’t give up on it just yet. With some TLC and aesthetic improvements, you could make it the best room in the house.

grey slate extension to rear of brick property with dark frames and roof lightsCredit: Prefix Systems
Give your existing conservatory a modern makeover

Although it’s natural to assume you need to use light colours to add a sense of space, using dark colours can also work.

To contrast with brick, use dark slate and grey window frames so that the conservatory becomes the most eye-catching part of the house.

The architectural trick of installing a pitched roof with an overhang will also make the conservatory seem bigger and allows you to add external lighting to frame the space at night.

11. White and bright

Keep it light for an airy atmosphere

If you prefer a simple colour palette, then keeping your furniture and finishes in lighter shades will undoubtedly work well in a smaller conservatory space.

white wicker Lloyd Loom style furniture in a conservatoryCredit: Holloways
White will always add brightness to your scheme

Wicker furniture dressed with pale soft furnishings and just the hint of green as an accent colour will mean the inside of the room blends into the foliage and sky outside.

12. Hang out in style

Use outdoor furniture and bright, sunny colours

If you’ve only got limited space for seating, keep the floor space clear by using outdoor furniture such as a hanging chair. Add a rug to create a focal point and to create a natural boundary around which you can place plants in pots.

This framed design is elegant and contemporary. A frameless hammock chair that hangs from the ceiling can be even more space-saving, as it can be easily removed to open up the room, and doesn’t take up valuable space on the floor.

wicker hanging garden chair against a bright yellow wall with patterned rug and plantsCredit: Wayfair
Keep floor space free and a add sunny wall colour for extra warmth

Use a sunny bright colour on the wall to immediately make your room feel warm and sun-drenched – even if it’s raining outside.

Buy this hanging chair currently on sale at Wayfair for £489.99

13. Think upward for an alternative approach

Conservatories don’t always have to be at ground level

If you like conservatory design but your garden access is at an elevated level, you can still have one by adding it to the side of your property above a basement room.

glass and white conservatory attached to side of brick house at first floor level on top of a basement roomCredit: David Salisbury
Use a conservatory as an alternative to a first floor extension

Set your design back slightly from the rest of your house to allow for the addition of an external terrace and you immediately have the same indoor and outdoor space as you would at ground level.

14. Use clever furniture design

Be innovative with shelving

If you have limited wall space in your small conservatory and want to have plants and treasured items on display, “Don’t be afraid to experiment with height too,” says Ridgway. “Use the floor, coffee table, tall shelves and suspended planters for a cocooning retreat-style effect.”

We love this open shelving design from Shelved with its thin frame and inbuilt planters.

black metal open framed shelving against grey wall with green plants and decorative itemsCredit: Shelved

Open shelving is ideal for small spaces as it still allows light to filter through the room and creates the perfect home for treasured decorative items.

Inbuilt planters make it easy to have an abundance of greenery without having to search the stores for a range of pots in the right height and colour.

15. Add sculptural pieces to your small space

Pick a theme that lets the light shine through

While your space may be small, it certainly doesn’t need to be boring. Use sculpturally designed furniture and pieces of art that create wonderful effects when bathed in light.

blue sculptural stools, table and screen on a tiled terrace with planted wall in backgroundCredit: Tom Faulkner
Create living art with sculptural furniture and stained glass

The wiry forms of this table and chairs from Tom Faulkner, combined with the contemporary stained-glass effect of the screen, are so impactful you’d need little else in your small conservatory.

With the stained glass panels in the sculpture creating wonderful colour and shadows across the floor in an ever-changing piece of living art, the idea of enjoying an evening sundowner while relaxing here is a delightful one.

Keep it unique

If you’ve been left feeling inspired, take note of some top small conservatory design tips from Annie Blackledge, interior designer at Holloways.

“First of all, establish how you are going to use your conservatory,” she says.

“Will it be a quiet room to sit and read, look at the garden or chat with a friend over a coffee?  Or a dining room, or a music room maybe?  Don’t overcrowd it with too much furniture – remember to leave enough space for floor lamps, plants and side tables.

“Don’t make your conservatory into another sitting room,” she advises, a comment we have heard echoed across the board in our research into conservatory designs.

“Avoid having a TV, fitted carpet and upholstered sofas in there,” she adds. “Treat your conservatory as a different zone of your house with a unique look and feel.  See it as an extension to your garden but under cover.”

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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