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15 Jan 2024

Conservatories VS garden rooms: what's the difference?

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist

Expanding your living space can be an exciting project, offering you the opportunity to create a new area where you can relax, work, or entertain guests. If you’re looking to improve your home space, two popular options are conservatories and garden rooms

Conservatory and garden room structures are often used to connect with the outdoors while maintaining the comfort of indoor living. They’re a great option for adding kerb appeal to your home. But what's the difference between them, and which one is right for your needs?

What is the difference between a conservatory and a garden room?

While conservatories and garden rooms seem similar, there are some key differences — and these differences mean one may suit your home more than the other. 

Materials and design

Conservatories and garden rooms, while serving similar purposes, exhibit distinct differences in their materials and design. Conservatories usually have glass walls and are typically attached to the main house, offering panoramic views and a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living. This design floods the space with natural light, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere. 

Garden rooms, in contrast, are standalone structures that provide more privacy and flexibility in placement. They are constructed with robust insulation, ensuring comfort and usability throughout the seasons, making them a more secluded and versatile addition to your property.

Usage and functionality

Both conservatories and garden rooms add substantial functionality to a home, but they serve slightly different purposes. Conservatories are ideal as spaces to showcase botanical beauty, functioning effectively as sunrooms, lounges, or dining areas due to their close connection with the outdoors and ample natural light. 

On the other hand, garden rooms are incredibly versatile and can be adapted for various uses. They make great home offices, gyms, or guest rooms. Their separation from the main house allows for a more private and adaptable space, suitable for a wide range of activities throughout the year.

Interaction with outdoor space

The interaction with outdoor space is a key differentiator between conservatories and garden rooms. Conservatories, being attached to the house, offer a more integrated experience, blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. They provide convenient access and uninterrupted views of the garden, enhancing the enjoyment of the natural surroundings. 

Garden rooms, however, offer a different kind of interaction. You can place them strategically in your garden, where they can provide a unique perspective of the outdoor space. This separation can create a sense of escape and tranquillity, making them ideal for those seeking a more private outdoor experience.

Aesthetic and architectural considerations

From an aesthetic standpoint, conservatories and garden rooms each bring unique elements to a property. Conservatories typically have an elegant design that harmonises with the main house, enhancing both the indoor and outdoor aesthetic with their glass structure and natural light. 

Meanwhile, garden rooms offer the flexibility to either complement or contrast with your home’s existing architecture. They provide an opportunity for homeowners to express their personal style, creating a space that is both functional and visually appealing.

Do I need planning permission for a garden room?

One of the key advantages of choosing a garden room is the potential exemption from planning permission requirements. In the UK, the rules and regulations surrounding planning permission can be complex, but garden rooms often offer more flexibility. 

Many garden rooms are considered permitted developments, meaning they can be built without the need for planning permission, provided they meet certain criteria:


Most garden rooms under 2.5 metres in height and located within 2 metres of your property's boundary are considered permitted developments. This means you can usually proceed without the hassle of seeking planning permission.


If your garden room is intended for personal use and does not include separate sleeping accommodations, it is more likely to be exempt from planning permission. This makes garden rooms an attractive option for various purposes, from home offices to leisure spaces.


The placement of your garden room also matters. If your garden room is not situated within 5 metres of your house or if it is not positioned in front of your property, it is more likely to be exempt from planning permission requirements.

While these general guidelines provide a helpful framework, it's crucial to consult with your local planning authority to confirm that your garden room project aligns with the specific regulations in your area. Local variations and restrictions may apply, so it's essential to ensure compliance to avoid any potential issues down the line.

Key considerations when choosing between a conservatory and a garden room

If you’re thinking about getting a conservatory or garden room, it’s important to think about which style would suit your lifestyle. 

Intended use

The primary purpose of your new addition should heavily influence your choice between a conservatory and a garden room. If you want a space to showcase beautiful plants and enjoy the feeling of being outdoors without facing harsh weather conditions, a conservatory is an excellent choice. 

On the other hand, if you require a versatile space that can serve as a home office, guest room, or leisure area, a garden room might offer more flexibility.

Aesthetic preferences

Consider your aesthetic preferences and how each option aligns with your home's overall design. Conservatories are known for their elegant and airy glass structures, while garden rooms can be customised to match your desired architectural style. 

Think about which option complements your home's appearance and fits seamlessly with your garden landscape.


Budget plays a significant role in your decision-making process. Conservatories and garden rooms vary in terms of construction costs, insulation, and additional features. 

Assess your budget carefully and determine which option provides the best value for your investment while meeting your needs.

Planning permission

The potential need for planning permission can also sway your decision. If you prefer to avoid the complexities of planning permission, a garden room may be the more attractive choice due to its flexibility in this regard. 

However, if your conservatory project meets the necessary criteria and you're willing to navigate the planning process, this may not be a major concern.

Garden space

Consider the available space within your garden when deciding between a conservatory and a garden room. 

A garden room can be placed more freely within your garden, offering flexibility in positioning. Conversely, a conservatory must be attached to your house, which may limit your placement options.


Your local climate can impact your choice. If you live in an area with harsh weather conditions, insulation and temperature control become crucial factors. 

Garden rooms are designed to provide year-round comfort, while conservatories may require additional heating and cooling solutions to maintain an ideal environment in extreme conditions.

Compare conservatories and garden rooms with SpotDif

Whether you're seeking to enhance your living space or create a tranquil retreat, choosing between a conservatory or a garden room can significantly impact your home's aesthetics and functionality. Each offers a unique way to blend indoor comfort with the beauty of the outdoors.

With SpotDif, you can delve into and compare conservatory and garden room options from leading designers and suppliers nationwide. Our intuitive platform aids you in selecting the ideal addition that aligns with your style, budget, and space requirements. 

Start exploring today to find the perfect conservatory or garden room for your home. For any queries or guidance, our team is always ready to chat with you.

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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