At least five different terms are used to describe greenhouse rooms which can vary greatly in style.
Greenhouse rooms go by many different names. Whether they are called a sunroom, conservatory, garden room or solarium these rooms are delightfully distinguished by a glass roofs that provide maximum sunlight throughout the year. Not only do modern conservatories optimize natural light but they can add much needed space. Rooms like these were first built during the mid-19th century following the invention of affordable cast plate glass in 1848. But glass rooms became a sensation following the The Great Exhibition of 1851 – essentially the first World’s Fair and a tribute to newly industrialized Great Britain. That took place in London where a massive glass and cast-iron freestanding structure called the Crystal Palace, with a 128-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling about half a football field in height, was built for the event. The building’s designer, not surprisingly, was the head gardener at Chatsworth, one of England’s great historic homes.
So while glass rooms were designed as greenhouses, they have easily morphed into modern multi-use extensions, usually with a pitched or slanted roofs. More elaborate examples can feature a cupola. When added to a kitchen area, sunrooms often double as dining rooms. In the small heated vintage greenhouse room [top], a ceiling fan provides enough cooling power for dining in warm weather and an old-fashioned radiator provides heat during cold months.
A cottage-white conservatory has added-on charm thanks to the re-purposed door and windows and raw old floor boards. A crystal chandelier was added merely as a sparkly light catcher since it has no bulbs or shades. The white-painted child’s high chair in the corner can double as a plant stand.
For the 40th Annual Atlanta Decorator’s Show house, Randy Korando and Dan Belman of Boxwood’s Gardens and Gifts created an intriguing one-off chandelier to distinguish the design of a Swedish- inspired solarium.
The chandelier incorporated glass bottles, vases and votive jars for an ultra-handmade “hanging garden” effect.
Victorian England was the heyday of Gothic Revival style so it’s logical to see pointed Gothic arches used in a posh modern greenhouse. This one is an extension of the Gothic Revival Kitchen, and includes early industrial-style pilasters in the framing and pressed-tin detailing below the roof.
What I most adore about this greenhouse is the low brick wainscot – as if it were once a brick-walled terrace that happened to be enclosed. And perhaps that is the case since there’s a central drain that runs down the center of the floor. So while the space now is decorated with a ’40’s style painted garden table and chairs plus a roller shade overhead to screen out the harshest summer sunbeams, this room has a history either as a patio or a greenhouse – which makes me wish I knew more.
(Source: Lamps Plus, busydoor, shadestonehome, Eric J. Smith, lucyina)
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