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When I was growing up in the 1980s a conservatory was the pinnacle of fanciness.
I was insanely jealous of anyone else who had one, and dreamed of having my own glass-encased room one day.
As it turned out, though, conservatories back then weren’t all they cracked up to be; they tended to be freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer, rendering them pretty much unusable for half of the year.
Luckily, conservatories have evolved a lot since then, which means they can essentially be used as an extra room in your room – such as a dining area or children’s playroom.
Modern solar reflective glass bounces away heat and glare during the summer months, while low U-value glass helps prevent warmth escaping during winter. Added to that, you can choose from a wide range of conservatory blinds to further filter light and hold in heat.
But, if you’re still not sold on a conservatory, there are many different glazing options that will add light and spaciousness to your home:
Lanterns differ from flat roof lights in that they’re a rectangular base where the sides slant upwards to create a 3D triangular shape, meeting in the middle at its highest point.
The advantage to these is that – as well as all that natural light – they add extra height to your room. This feeling of spaciousness is perfect if you want to open up a small room, or add even more light and space to a large family area.
The traditional style is supported by aluminium spines, which are visible when you look up through the lantern.
The added strength provided by these bars means traditional lanterns can be built to larger sizes, also making them ideal for big open-plan rooms or spacious kitchen-diners.
These contemporary roof lights also give you added light and spaciousness, but are constructed without the metal framework. This gives a sleeker, more modern appearance and a less obstructed view through the glazing (the lines you can see are the joins where individual glass units meet).
Virtually frameless lanterns can be made up to 3m x 1.5m in size – if you need a bigger roof light you’ll need to go with the Traditional Lantern style.
This super-modern alternative is ideal if you’re after maximum light and a real ‘wow’ factor for your room. These virtually frameless glass units can be installed side-by-side to create full-width glass roofs and side returns. They can also be used vertically, in effect creating a room made entirely of glass.
All units are solar reflective (which means excess heat and glare is bounced away), non-stick and self-cleaning. They’ve also been toughened and tested by heat soaking (subjected to intense heat to ensure their strength), so can withstand extreme wind and rain conditions.
These are like ultra-modern bay windows and ‘pop out’ from the frame.
The glass box adds depth and light to your room, particularly when it’s replacing a regular window, and give a really classy, contemporary finish.
Complete the look with a bespoke window seat cushion, and you have also have a gorgeous little seating area, or reading nook.
These square or rectangles glass units set into your roof to allow in more light; you might know them better as skylights.
Although building regulations require them to be installed on a slightly raised timber frame, known as an upstand or kerb, they sit flat (with a very slight pitch to encourage rain water to run off) so won’t change the drastically change the shape of your roofline.
If you’re after a more pocket-friendly option, or you don’t fancy looking out over raised glass pyramids, these could be the best products for you.
These are basically flat roof lights that can be opened via a remote-controlled motor.
These are great if you’re worried the space might get stuffy without ventilation, or if you simply want the option of letting fresh air in.
The largest size you can opt for is 2M x 1M.
Lean-to roofs are custom made to fit your roof and use toughened, solar-reflective glass (see below for a fuller description).
Our traditional lean-to roofs are segmented with aluminum bars and are often preferred by people who want keep a classic style in their home. The frameless version gives a more contemporary look for modern homes or extensions, and – because the view is less obstructed – allows more natural light to come in.
There are also many different glazing options for glass doors. Sliding doors don’t technically add any extra space, but they do open up your home by allowing the eye to flow past the wall and on to the outside, giving the illusion of more room.
During warmer months you can throw the doors open for indoor/outdoor living. They also let in piles of natural light, lifting and brightening your home.
Super-thin sight lines (the aluminium frames) allow you to have an ultra-modern wall of glass, with barely any obstruction to the view outside.
Bi-fold doors open by folding back on themselves, then sliding to one side. The benefit to these is that they tuck away flat you can potentially open up your entire back wall (sliding doors will always leave one frame of glass in place, where the other panes have slid behind).
The con is that you have a more obvious frame, so the view out to your garden is partly obscured by the thicker sight lines. It all comes down to which of the benefits is more important to you.
Both are other terms for roof lights.
With all these different glazing options, the hardest part will be deciding which of these stunning products to choose.
If you’re feeling confused, contact a specialist glazing company, where the team will be able to advise you on the best choices for your renovation project.
• Read about how our garden became our sanctuary during lockdown