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Sunroom Semantics: Exploring the Differences Between Sunrooms, Solariums, Conservatories, and Orangeries

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The desire to connect with nature while enjoying the comforts of indoor living has led many homeowners to explore the concept of glass-enclosed spaces, generally referred to by the blanket term, “sunroom.” When discussing glass-enclosed spaces, it’s important to clarify the terminology and understand the unique characteristics of each style. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to distinct architectural designs and features. Understanding these differences can help clarify and inspire what your vision may be for adding one to your home. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the distinctions between these captivating architectural additions, uncovering their defining features, historical influences, and aesthetic nuances. While some of these differences may seem minor, our understanding of them is what allows our customers to find their own unique identity in every sunroom we make.


Before the manufacturing process begins, each beam’s depth is calculated to meet the specific requirements of the sunroom design and local building codes. Factors such as snow load, wind load, span, bay width, and other environmental conditions are taken into account to ensure optimal structural performance. Brady-Built’s commitment to customization ensures that every sunroom receives beams tailored to its unique specifications, providing both beauty and durability.


Solariums are often considered a more contemporary style of glass-enclosed spaces. They possess distinct characteristics that set them apart from sunrooms. These architectural gems typically feature curving eaves along the exterior, contributing to their sleek aesthetic. Some experts classify solariums separately from sunrooms, considering them as enclosures with glass roofs, while sunrooms feature solid roofs with occasional operational skylights. Solariums embrace the concept of maximizing natural light, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere that allows occupants to immerse themselves in the beauty of the outdoors while remaining sheltered from the elements. The design of solariums places a strong emphasis on capturing sunlight and providing unobstructed views, making them a popular choice for those seeking a distinctive and light-filled space.


Conservatories are closely associated with the Victorian era and encompass a wide range of glass-enclosed spaces that deviate from traditional rectangular shapes. These architectural marvels often feature footprints with corners that are not set at right angles. For example, conservatories can adopt an octagonal format or a rectangular shape with clipped corners. These unique angles translate into panels that no longer conform to the conventional rectangular shape, resulting in captivating patterns of triangular cuts. Furthermore, conservatories may incorporate roof styles other than flat or gabled, such as hip roofs. This versatility allows conservatories to seamlessly integrate with various architectural styles while providing ample natural light and panoramic views. The unconventional angles and distinct panel arrangements add architectural interest, creating an atmosphere of elegance and charm.


Orangeries originated in Europe during the post-Renaissance era and represent a remarkable architectural style that combines elements of partial shade and abundant natural light. These structures typically feature a boxy design with a solid, flat roof surrounding the edges. However, the central focus lies in the glass gable or peak positioned in the center of the structure. Orangeries were initially conceived as modified structures intended to house tropical fruit trees like citrus and pineapple during the winter months, before the advent of faster and more affordable fruit imports. The distinctive combination of solid and glass elements creates a visually striking contrast while allowing for the infusion of sunlight. Ornate decorations such as rows of iron fleurs-de-lis or intricate roof patterns often adorn orangeries, adding a touch of grandeur and historical charm.

Distinguishing Features and Benefits

While all four styles—sunrooms, solariums, conservatories, and orangeries—share the common thread of glass-enclosed spaces, they each possess unique features and offer distinct advantages to homeowners. Sunrooms, with their practical design and focus on year-round functionality, provide a seamless extension of indoor living spaces while offering the benefits of natural light and controlled climate conditions. Solariums captivate with their contemporary allure and emphasis on maximizing natural light through curved eaves and expansive glass roofs. These modern havens foster a strong connection with the outdoors, infusing the space with a sense of openness and lightness. Conservatories, deeply rooted in Victorian architectural traditions, stand out with their unconventional shapes and intricate panel arrangements, allowing homeowners to create captivating spaces that defy convention. 
Lastly, orangeries bring a touch of history and opulence to the glass-enclosed space category. With their solid, flat roofs and central glass gables, orangeries strike a balance between shade and sunlight, paying homage to their origins as structures for nurturing delicate tropical fruit trees.

Choosing the Right Style for Your Home

Selecting the ideal style of glass-enclosed space for your home requires careful consideration of several factors. Understanding your specific needs and preferences will help guide the decision-making process. Consider whether you prioritize year-round functionality, contemporary aesthetics, historical charm, or a unique architectural statement. The existing architecture of your home should also be taken into account, ensuring that the chosen style harmoniously integrates with the overall design.

Consulting with our experienced designers and architects can provide invaluable insights and guidance throughout the selection and design process. These professionals possess the expertise to assess your space, understand your vision, and translate it into a bespoke glass-enclosed addition that elevates your living experience. We will consider factors such as the orientation of your home, the surrounding landscape, and the intended use of the space to create a customized design that optimizes natural light, maximizes views, and ensures structural integrity.

The world of glass-enclosed spaces is rich and diverse, offering homeowners a myriad of options to create unique and captivating additions to their homes. Sunrooms, solariums, conservatories, and orangeries each bring their own distinct character and charm, appealing to different architectural tastes and design sensibilities. By understanding the defining features, historical influences, and aesthetic nuances of these styles, homeowners can make informed decisions that align with their vision and transform their living spaces.

Whether you are drawn to the practicality and year-round functionality of sunrooms, the contemporary allure of solariums, the timeless elegance of conservatories, or the historical charm of orangeries, there is a style that will fulfill your desire for a glass-enclosed space. Embrace the possibilities, seek the guidance of experts, and embark on a journey to create a harmonious fusion of indoor and outdoor living—an architectural masterpiece that elevates your quality of life and brings you closer to nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What are the cost considerations associated with constructing glass-enclosed spaces such as sunrooms, solariums, conservatories, and orangeries?
There is no single answer to this question, since all of our sunrooms are custom-made, so costs depend on a number of factors. Some of the most important variables to consider when discussing sunroom costs are the size, design complexity, materials used, and any additional options the customer requests. Whatever your vision is for your sunroom, our designers are devoted to getting our sunrooms into your hands at the best price possible.

2.   How can I ensure energy efficiency in my glass-enclosed space to minimize heating and cooling costs?
Our rooms are designed for maximum energy efficiency, so you can rest knowing that you’re enjoying the outside world while also helping it. Our rooms use low-E glass that help reflect heat in the summer months while allowing the heat in during the winter, helping reduce overall energy costs. The simple fact that you’ll be less reliant on your lights because of the natural sunlight coming in equates to lower energy consumption.

3.   Are there any specific building codes or permits required when adding a glass-enclosed space to my home?
As with any construction project, there are building codes and permits to work around when constructing a sunroom. However, our team has decades of experience getting permits approved efficiently, meaning that the process will be painless for you.