The conservatory is an extension of both your house and garden. Get it right and it will add space, create a sense of luxury and increase the value of your home. Here's how to use furniture, blinds, flooring, lighting and colour to maximum effect.
Rattan, cane and wicker have come a long way since the seventies. Check out Tesco Direct for sleek square chairs; John Lewis for metal and rattan dining furniture and Ikea for wicker chairs in bright, funky colours. Mix natural teak, walnut or dark stained rattan furniture with plump linen cushions for a contemporary colonial look. A natural rug in jute or seagrass will give the room a natural, organic feel.
Sunblinds reduce glare and heat build-up throughout the day and offer privacy at night. Solar R conservatory blinds reflect up to 85% of the sun's energy making them an excellent choice for south facing conservatories that can get over-heated. Cheerful stripes work well in coastal styled rooms while bright whites look stunning next to colonial dark woods and leafy green plants.
If your conservatory is a gateway to the garden choose a hardwearing, easy to clean floor, such as natural limestone, marble, slate or granite. Ceramic or natural stone tiles will help cool down hot south-facing conservatories. Real wood is best avoided as the extremes of temperature can cause it to warp.
Low-level lamps produce less glare and reflection than overhead lighting. Don't neglect the night-time view of the garden. Train angled lights on permanent features, such as tree trunks, waterfalls and architectural ornaments. That blossoming plant in July isn't going to look so good in January. Choose green lights for plants and blues for water features.
Cool blues, violets and greens will make a small room seem bigger and help cool down a hot south-facing conservatory. A pale, icy blue or green wall will provide a backdrop for showing off bright ornaments and furniture, such as lampshades, mirrors, and cushions. Try grouping strong colours together for maximum effect, such as bright red chairs, a line of blue vases or a collection of colourful wall plates.
Hot pinks and oranges work best in north or east-facing rooms. Team with bold prints and big leafy plants for a lush tropical haven that feels warm all year round. Hot pinks and oranges add instant warmth and vibrancy to a room. For a look that's easy to live with paper a feature wall in a bright, bold design and keep the rest of the room neutral. Opt for cushions with a bold motif, such as palm fronds, leaves or tropical flowers. Billowing white material and dark wood furniture, such as teak and walnut, lend a contemporary edge.
And don't be afraid to use black and white with colour. Black gives a sexy, glamorous edge to a room and will provide depth and lustre when used with bold colours.
Romance of flowers
For old fashioned romance turn to the garden for inspiration. Go for delicate floral wallpaper and colour-coordinate accessories or show off vintage floral cushions and china against pastel walls and whitewashed furniture. Limit yourself to two or three patterns to prevent the look becoming twee.
Have you given your conservatory a makeover for summer? Leave your tips below...