Traditional design features for modern orangeries

The earliest orangeries originated in the 17th century. They were a symbol of wealth and status, designed to be architectural spectacles. Although the use of an orangery has evolved over time, we still see plenty of traditional orangery design features in modern builds. 

If you’re considering a bespoke orangery for your property, understanding the terms for the key architectural features of the structure can assist your collaboration with your design team to produce the orangery of your dreams.


Fenestration refers to the arrangement, proportioning, and design of windows and doors in a building. Since orangeries are traditionally known for their extensive use of glazing to allow maximum natural light, fenestration is a critical aspect of their design.

Key elements of fenestration for orangeries include windows, glazed panels, decorative glazing, doors and roof lanterns. Many choices will be functional, such as filling certain areas of the space with light. However, considered designs and attention to frame proportions and rhythm are paramount for achieving a harmonious and visually pleasing structure that resonates with classical architectural principles. 

Our glazed panels are set back from the face of the frame which creates a shadow line and a sense of depth to the window giving it our characteristic look. Our glazing design options are extensive and detailed in our brochure. Typically the design aligns with that selected for the sashes – we generally use a 17mm glazing bar, though a 22mm option is available. Window sashes are a cornerstone of Hampton casement windows, serving as either the fixed or opening element within the frame, with the latter offered in top-hung or side-hung variations.


French doors are a staple feature of classic orangery design, providing convenient access to the garden. When placed symmetrically in pairs, french doors can provide ample access to the space outside, whilst helping the internal zoning of the orangery. Other popular choices are bi-fold or sliding doors, which can open up an entire side of the orangery whilst taking up minimal space.

In fact, with bespoke orangery design, homeowners don’t have to choose between the two – bifold doors can be designed to look like French doors when they are closed but still allow a large opening when pushed back.

We offer a comprehensive selection of doors to meet diverse needs. Our doors are manufactured from engineered sapele mahogany and range in height between 2.1 to 2.3 metres, with a clerestory introduced when the frame height exceeds 2.4m. Whether double or single, opening internally or externally, all our doors come with secure cabin hooks to keep them open on windy days and a ​​multi-point locking system for added security. We offer key-to-like locking options for convenience so if you have more than one door, one key fits all.

Roof lantern

A roof lantern, also known as a roof light, is designed to fit into a specially prepared opening on a flat roof, as an energy-efficient solution that infuses rooms with natural light while enhancing aesthetic appeal. Roof lanterns can be square, rectangular, or even circular, with curved glass presenting a distinctive albeit pricier option. Some orangeries can benefit from multiple roof lanterns to ensure the entire space below is filled with natural light. 

Internal finishing considerations, such as plate rails or panelling, contribute to a stately finish, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.


The gable of an orangery refers to the triangular section at the end of the pitched roof – on an orangery, this pitch is between 18.5 and 20 degrees. It often includes large amounts of glazing, sometimes with intricate patterns. While primarily an aesthetic feature, the gable also supports the structure of the roof and contributes to the overall stability of the orangery. 

Gables can be adorned with various architectural details, such as decorative trims, to enhance the elegance of the extension, and the mouldings are based on classical detailing. Although a traditional design element, gables on modern orangeries may incorporate more contemporary features, like sleek lines, whilst maintaining the classic shape and function.


Historically, clerestory windows were integral to the upper levels of churches and cathedrals, literally adding a ‘clear story’ of glass to the building. In orangery design, a clerestory is an angular raised area of glazing that sits atop the main roof lantern, designed to enhance the space and light in the room below, whilst maintaining privacy. A clerestory may also enhance the energy efficiency and temperature control of the orangery, as when combined with certain building materials, such as stone or brick, the clerestory can store solar heat during the warmer times of the day, allowing the rest of the room to maintain heat during colder periods.

In our orangery design, the height of the door frame determines when a clerestory is necessary. As mentioned above, we introduce a clerestory when the door height is 2.4m or taller, restricting the overall height of the frame, including the clerestory, to no more than 3m. We incorporate unique design elements such as circles, ellipses, vertical glazing and two, three or four-pane glazing options.


Traditional orangery design is all about the smaller details. A finial is a decorative pointed feature placed at the roof’s highest point, typically along the ridge, apex or gable. Finials provide additional emphasis to the apex of an orangery, with plenty of intricate designs available to complement the architecture of the building. Common designs include ball or sphere shapes, fleur de lys, spikes, and decorative leaves. 

Our finials are all sand-cast in aluminium, then powder-coated to a dark grey colour, representing a lead finish.


An entablature refers to the upper part of a building, traditionally supported by columns. Correctly proportioned entablature contributes to structural stability, whilst also maintaining the aesthetic harmony of classical architecture.

The Entablature comprises three main elements:

  • Architrave: The lower part directly above the column, providing a visual base for the entablature.
  • Frieze: The middle section, often decorated with sculptural reliefs or patterns.
  • Cornice: The uppermost part, projecting outward to provide a visual “cap” for the building.

On our orangeries, the entablature is visually supported by pilasters (more information on those next). The structure and proportions of the entablature vary across the five classical orders: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite, with our designs primarily inspired by the Doric order for its simplicity and elegance. Our materials are chosen for their durability and resistance to rot, ensuring a life expectancy of over 50 years. This blend of tradition and innovation provides a modern aesthetic that reflects our design principles.


A pilaster resembles a structural column, but instead of providing a structural benefit, they are purely decorative, helping to break up the long stretches of glazing at the front of an orangery. Unlike columns, pilasters are not freestanding; they are attached to walls, giving the appearance of embedded columns.

The arrangement of pilasters on an orangery, known as intercolumniation, influences proportion and scale perception. Pilasters can be fitted both internally and externally to add a touch of elegance. Positioned externally, beneath the entablature, pilasters emulate the function of columns, offering a classic and elegant appearance. Depending on your stylistic preferences, pilasters can either be rectangular, like the examples below, or circular.

Gutters and downpipes

Gutters and downpipes are essential for any build, carrying rainwater away from the structure. Despite their necessity, many homeowners prefer to conceal this aspect of their orangery as much as possible.

Considered design of a gutter system can carry over the classical principles of the rest of the orangery, fabricating a gutter that is almost seamless in appearance. Matching the paint colour of the gutter and downpipes to the surrounding timber ensures that they blend perfectly with the framework. Hopper heads (placed at the junction of a horizontal gutter and vertical downpipe) can be kept plain and simple, but many homeowners opt for a decorative hopper head which blends with the surrounding entablature.

Our gutter systems achieve a clean, classic look with an ogee profile, extruded from heavy 3mm thick aluminium and capable of supporting the weight of a person for cleaning and maintenance without risk of damage. 

Ironmongery / Hardware

Smaller, intricate details like hardware should not be overlooked when designing a bespoke orangery. This can include door levers and knobs, window casement stays, and hinges. Your designer will be able to offer you a range of options with various finishes to complement your chosen timber colour and interior design style.

Our selection of prestigious English hardware offers design details that complement the exceptional craftsmanship of our buildings. Available in five elegant colour options, including brass, antique brass (both lacquered and unlacquered), bronze, satin nickel, and polished nickel, our hardware provides an exquisite finish, adding a touch of sophistication to the structure whilst maintaining durability.


Your design team will walk you through the process from start to finish, explaining what these terms mean and how your choices will impact the final result of the project. However, having a basic understanding of these terms will be beneficial in helping you clearly explain your vision to the designers.

If you have any questions about bespoke orangery design, or are ready to start the process of designing your own orangery, contact our expert team today.