Designing a family-friendly conservatory

Traditionally thought of as an extension of the garden, or a space in which plants could flourish away from harsher outdoor conditions, the conservatory has fast become a popular addition to many family homes. With all the issues we had last week with our conservatory, it got me thinking about how we can re-design ours to make it a better room for the whole family. A real investment, a conservatory is an adaptable space – a room that could host toys and games one day, and a quiet study session the next. Just as your family will grow and its dynamics change, so too can your humble conservatory. What do you need to create that perfect family-friendly space?

Five top tips for designing your dream conservatory

There are numerous ways to create a space that every member of your family is going to be able to take advantage of, or to make an existing conservatory more family friendly. Below are five of my favourites, though you may well have ideas of your very own…

  1. Think about what you want

Before you can start designing your dream conservatory, you’ll need to think about what the space is going to be used for; your conservatory should be fit for purpose, as well as family friendly. Will you use this redesigned space as a study, dining room, or sunroom? Are you hoping to create a playroom, a garden room, or an extension of your kitchen? Making a decision regarding your conservatory’s use will go a long way towards finalising your plans and helping you to think about theming, furniture, and layout. If you’ve yet to choose a purpose for your conservatory, aim to keep things simple; design a room that could be enjoyed by the whole family, such as a snug or second lounge.

  1. Consider family-friendly flooring

The material that you choose to cover the floor of your conservatory should be practical as well as stylish. Wood and laminate are both immensely popular choices, as are stone tiles. How family friendly are such types of flooring, though? Could a little one only just finding their feet cruise on bare tiles without fear? If you’ve chosen hardwood or tiles for the floor of your conservatory, you may want to consider using a rug or mat. A rug can be rolled away when not needed, ensuring that you’re still able to enjoy those gorgeous tiles as your children grow up. If you’re using the conservatory as a playroom, have a think about fun vinyl and rubber tiles, and decide whether your budget can stretch to under-floor heating. A real investment, under-floor heating will ensure that your conservatory is warm and comfortable all year round.

  1. Use the light to your advantage

Conservatories make excellent suntraps, channelling those hours of daylight to create a space that is warm, bright, and inviting. Conservatories quickly become places of quiet contemplation and tranquillity, as well as being the rooms that we retreat to when we need a little pick-me-up; there’s nothing like the feel of the sun on your face to instantly lift your mood. Your conservatory should be designed to make the most of the natural light that floods in on a daily basis. A set of beautiful wooden shutters, such as the classically designed phoenix hardwood shutters, could be the accessory for which you’ve been searching. Shutters can instantly dress up a space, and they provide a means to control the flow of light into any room. Shutters are also great for temperature control, adding insulation in the winter and a gentle breeze during the summer. They’re the perfect addition to any family space.

  1. Think about a theme

It’s a good idea to think about how you want your finished conservatory to look and feel. This will help you to design a layout, choose larger purchases such as flooring, and steer towards a finished product. Do you want a subtle and sophisticated space that could be used as a homework room or snug without distraction? Do you want to create a room that’s bright and colourful for the enjoyment of the little ones who will play in there? Perhaps you’re drawn towards vintage and shabby chic, or a theme that embraces the garden just beyond those double doors. Whatever you decide, remember that this space is yours to enjoy as you wish.

  1. Install smart storage

Whatever you’re going to be using your conservatory for, you’ll need smart storage solutions; the last thing you want is for your fancy new space to become a dumping ground for toys, unused fitness equipment, and old furniture. It’s time to think about what you’ll be using your conservatory for, and the kinds of furniture that will match your theme. For example, a sturdy sideboard or wooden cupboard would make a great addition to a grown-up space that will be used as a snug or study, while toy chests and similarly fun and accessible children’s storage would be perfect for a playroom. What look are you hoping for, and what kinds of furniture will achieve that image?

These days, conservatories are used for a variety of purposes, and designed in an array of styles. Designing a family-friendly conservatory is likely to be one of the most fun interior design tasks that you’re ever likely to face, enabling you to create a space that’s as unique and characterful as each member of your brood. Embrace this opportunity and come up with a room that works for you in every way.

Vase of flowers image by ShutterStock.

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