Expand your home with a conservatory

Here are some tips to decorate this new addition to your home. A conservatory is an extension of both your house and garden, so decorate it accordingly.

Your conservatory just needs a little life and something of your personality added to it to make it the welcoming space you desire! Any conventional freestanding conservatory furniture is going to be too bulky to squeeze in, so look to more compact solutions. Most people go down the wicker furniture route, which really add a more exotic and relaxing feel to the room and make a good transition to the garden.

On the floor, add a long, brightly coloured runner to tone with your scheme and to warm the room up and add colour in the form of co-ordinating cushions on the sofa. For a more exotic feel, add palm trees, orchids, and hibiscus; they will thrive in your conservatory, and don’t forget all those coloured pots. Hang some white planters from the ceiling on chunky, industrial steel chains for a unique, modern look and add trailing plants. Cacti and palms work really well in a contemporary environment, so squeeze a few into corner spaces, or on mini occasional tables placed either side of the sofa. For a more contemporary feel also, why not use modern yet very comfortable plastic sofas from the Italian company Kartell.

Finally, your conservatory is also the opportunity to let your imagination go a bit further, if you have the space why not have a jacuzzi or a small waterfall or water feature? Why not wallpaper in a bold pattern? Adding personalised art to the walls is a sure-fire way to make this space your own; why not have your favourite photographs blown up onto large canvasses which make a dramatic impact on a room?

Having a conservatory is great, especially given our changeable Irish weather! But do you treat it as part of the house, or part of the garden? Well, a bit of both, really. Choose natural colours and textures for floors, blinds, and accessories. If you're lucky enough to have a conservatory, then turn it into a place to both relax and entertain by using one side for seating and the other for a small dining table. Try to avoid heavy soft furnishings to match the interior of your home — the idea is that this is a little bit of the garden indoors, but adapted for comfort and warmth.

So keep materials natural: bamboo, wood, and wrought iron are the obvious choice for furniture; natural slate or terracotta on the floor with scatter rugs that are warm underfoot (beware of wooden floors which can expand dramatically or also discolour in a south facing conservatory ), conservatory roof blinds for privacy and to keep the room cool in summer and warm in winter; and plenty of leafy palms for a relaxed, tropical look. The blinds are a major investment, but anyone who has a conservatory will tell you that it's well worth it.

Harsh summer sun can turn a glass extension into an oven that's unbearable to sit in. So you will need blinds which ideally will also work as insulation, keeping the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Now time to enjoy…

Laurent Billiet

La Maison Chic www.lamaisonchic.ie [email protected]

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