6 ways to makeover an unloved conservatory with Thomas Sanderson

I love our house. Love it love it, lemon love it. But, if I had a magic wand, I would wave it frantically over the conservatory at the back of the house. 

I have never ever been a fan of conservatories, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and I always find they are full of strange furniture you wouldn't see anywhere else but these indoor greenhouses. That we are pre conditioned to exclusively furnish them with uncomfortable rattan seats and look at the room through a closed door 99% of the year. 

But having finally lived with one, I can't believe I am going to say this, I'm not sure I could live without it and I find myself saving vintage wicker seats to my wish list Pinterest board. Imagine a blogger and photographers dream space for photos, what would it look like? A light filled room all year round with walls to prop tables against and beautiful even light at 6am in the morning through to dinner time in the summer. Our conservatory has been my life saviour over the last 18 months. A home studio to dress and rearrange for different mini shoots combined with an extra room for the boys to use as a playroom. The space is so flexible and has so much potential we just need a way to transform it into a dream room. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Sanderson at the Ideal Home Show a while ago and realised that there are so many ways I can bring ours back to life. 

I just wish we could paint it, re roof it, change the doors and the window handles... you name it - I'd like to change it. The mahogany stain is so out of character with the rest of the house, and I dream of the day far into the future when I take this exact photo but instead there's a beautiful orangery staring back at me.

Because it turns out, that I do in fact love the principle of a conservatory or garden room, I'm just not so in love with ours right now. And I am sure I am not the only one who wishes I had a fairy godmother who could cast some magic over this unloved shell.

So what can we do?!

I've found 6 ways to make the most of your conservatory, to give it a new lease of life and make it into a dream room. 

1. Instant update with New Blinds

I talk with friends who say the same. "It's a sauna in the summer and a freezer in the winter!" It's silly really because there are clever people out there who can help and ta day! An extra room in your house you can use 365 days of the year.

I had no idea about the range that is available now. Forget the old fashioned styles you'd have seen at your parent's houses in the early 90's there's a wealth of styles, finishes and colours for every taste.

These Duette® Energy Smart blinds put our old ones to shame. Not only do they help to relate and control the temperature but the clever double layered fabric design also absorbs noise. The honeycomb design has a special coating on the window side to help improve energy efficiency even further. Ours can feel like the sky is falling down during a heavy rain shower and I can't hear myself think let alone take a phone call - the impact of the raindrops on the ceiling feels like you are in a tropical thunderstorm, without the beach in the distance! 

2. Fill it with things you want to look at

It sounds like a obvious statement doesn't it? But so often I see conservatories that are the forgotten room, a little souless and almost like the after thought. Odd furniture, obligatory plant, rooms that don't scream come and sit in me! I feel so inspired when I am surrounded by the things I love. Artwork I've collected over the years, cushions that I've bought year after year that fill the sofas, but our conservatory is filled with random bits of furniture and hasn't had the same sort of TLC we are giving the rest of the house. 

I love how this room is decorated with precious possessions and this photo taken by Natalie Jeffcott makes me want to lean into the screen and thumb through all those book pages and peer at what is under those glass bell jars. 

If your space is full of you, your things, your most loved things I guarantee you will want to spend more time there. 

3. Embrace Shutters

I long for shutters, with the same longing I feel for an ice cold cocktail on a balmy summer's evening. I must have visited an old french house at some point in my life and had the image of these beautiful window finishes etched into my subconscious. Because every time I pass a house with shutters I have to stop and let out a gentle sigh. And try and sneak a cheeky photo.

Beautiful and practical - a winning combination! I can't imagine there is a window these shutters couldn't fit with a bespoke and ready made service to choose from. I felt the PVCu engineered samples and was so impressed with the finish, if we were keeping our conservatory indefinitely I would blanket every window with them.


4. Say Hello To New Flooring

We have a sorry looking carpet in our conservatory that dogs and boys have trampled all over, not wiping their feet or their paws and a wet start to this summer means it is almost crying out to be replaced. A new floor can instantly lift the whole feel of a room and I adore this bold use of patterned tiles in Ulises and Melissa's modern sun room

We went for something similar in a blue colour way for the downstairs cloakroom but I hadn't thought about covering a much larger space with such a statement print. It's a treat for your eyes and the light bouncing from the walls and ceilings makes it shine brightly. I love the subtle colours they chose letting the heavy terracotta pots and house plants bring a natural colour palette into the room.

We have chosen these Fired Earth tiles for our ensuite but how spectacular would they look in the conservatory?!

5. Paint the house walls

I had never really thought about the idea of making the wall of the house adjoining the conservatory into a feature. Now we are in a listed house so we might not get away with such a bold statement but I think the idea of choosing a colour and making a feature out of the brickwork or stone is a fabulous one!

This modern glass extension by Sigmar in London features a contrasting charcoal grey wall that compliments the dark radiator and window frames perfectly.

And it could work perfectly in any sized conservatory or sunroom, you could even repaint the wall as the seasons change.

I would kill for a white brick wall to shoot against! You can also easily add a false stud wall in front of the fabric of the building itself and paint that. 

Making a feature wall gives you so many decorating options. 

6. Give it a right good clean

I hold my hands up. I have no idea what our conservatory looks like when it's sparkling clean, because in 18 months we have never really touched it on the outside. What we need to do is book a conservatory valet and I bet it would be a revelation. To have the handles and hinges properly checked and repaired, to have the guttering professionally cleaned and the roof panels meticulously washed and scrubbed would absolutely make a difference to the whole look and feel of the space. 

So what would you do with your conservatory? Or are you thinking of adding one to your home? My ideal garden room would have a window seat around the base of the brickwork and an open plan space which lead onto the kitchen. Hues of calming green, stripped wood flooring and a day bed. Just pass me a cup of tea and a magazine now could you?! 

In collaboration with Thomas Sanderson