Timeless Home Improvements and Upgrades

Many homeowners plan a remodel or renovation to spruce up their living space. While beginning that process, it is important to keep in mind trends, ideas, and designs that won’t go out of style. Conservatory Craftsman weighed in on this topic. So we wanted to share this recent Redfin blog:

How to Choose Timeless Home Improvements and Upgrades That Won’t Go Out of Style“.

Check out this article that explores timeless design tips that won’t have your space looking dated in a couple of years. Numerous home improvement providers provided insights and information as well as many valuable tips, including one we were happy to share. Click the image to the right or the article title to read it!

Glam Up Your Garden Rooms With These 5 Different Designs

Garden rooms are becoming an increasingly popular addition to homes. As more and more homeowners adopt the concept of indoor-outdoor living, many people want to experience the beauty of bringing the comforts of their home’s interiors right into their gardens.

Below are some of the most popular contemporary garden room designs today.

Garden pods for oddity

Spherical garden rooms will catch anybody’s attention because of its odd design. Garden pods are ideal for dining, studying and meeting up with friends and family members.

Reminiscent of a capsule, the waterproofwindow walls can be tinted to reflect glare. Add a stainless steel roof that repels heat to keep the interior of the room cool. You can also add a sliding door to keep the pod fully sealed.

The rugged beauty of the rustic design

Sync your garden room with the natural beauty of its surroundings by implementing a rustic style. Use natural elements for a cohesive rustic feel throughout your entire space. You can use wide wood planks as part of your flooring system and walls. You can also use wood beams for the room’s ceiling, an excellent reminder of the great outdoors. And finally, seal the deal with a fireplace to keep you warm whenever you decide to stay there for the night.

Work (comfortably) from home

Working from the confines of your home does not have to be boring. Boost your productivity by using your garden room as your home office. Use light paint colors that are relaxing to the eyes. Install sliding doors or windows that you can open whenever you get stressed from working.

If you’re not comfortable with having a home office, you can opt to have a stylish studio instead to keep your creative juices flowing. Use floor-to-ceiling glass around your room so you can still enjoy the view and possibly gain inspiration from your surroundings while you are working in your studio.

Workout with a view

What better way to sweat than to work out while enjoying a serene view straight from your garden? Turn your garden room into a mini gym and hype your everyday workout. Use a durable varnished flooring system that is ideal for a workout space. Ensure proper ventilation so you don’t feel too hot and uncomfortable during your sessions.

Open porch design for an almost countryside living

Adopt an open porch design that allows plenty of natural light and fresh air to enter and recreate countryside living. Lounge in your garden room during afternoons, unwind and enjoy a cup of tea or read a book.

The most important thing to consider when choosing what garden room design to go for is the kind of lifestyle you want. Make sure that the design you will choose perfectly matches what you aspire to. This will not only bring you happiness and satisfaction, but it will also make your investment worth it.

Make your dream a reality

Conservatory Craftsmen is dedicated to bringing you functional and comfortable garden rooms that capture your envisioned lifestyle. Our team of experts ensures that the garden rooms we design for you showcase refined architecture from high-quality materials. Entrust your vision to us. Contact us today so we can help you have the space you dream of.

Maximize Rooftop Space with a Conservatory

When people talk about expanding interior space, they immediately think about taking down walls and building new rooms. These are plausible solutions, but only if your plot of land can accommodate the extra floor space. If your property is in the middle of the city, however, or if you like your structure as is, then you might want to turn your gaze upward.

Conservatory Craftsmen offers an opportunity to expand your interior space without doing any major renovations. By building a rooftop conservatory or greenhouse, we add one more inhabitable space to your property.

Residential Comforts

Rooftop conservatories designed by Conservatory Craftsmen have sustainable features that are trendy today: energy-efficient, automated, and eco-friendly. Although they are still more popular in the UK, more American homeowners are starting to see their benefits and are now integrating conservatories into their homes.

With their glass walls and roofs, conservatories allow natural light to come in. Conservatory Craftsmen also adds large glass doors and windows that open either manually or automatically. As a result, the houses we work on become bright and airy even if their owners keep the lights and air conditioning off during the day. So, they get to enjoy the outdoors without stepping outside their homes and save on electricity bills.

Whether you use it as a greenhouse or a sunroom, a rooftop conservatory offers comforts and efficiencies that appeal to your modern sensibilities.

The Advantage to Commercial Buildings

Rooftop conservatories are flexible; commercial property owners can find multiple uses for them. They are suitable as an events space, for example, or as structural covers for hotel rooftop swimming pools. Other possible uses for them are as art studios, dance studios, and cafe lounges.

Food establishments and fresh produce stores can also take advantage of their rooftop spaces by converting them into commercial greenhouses. They can grow some of the products they sell or use in their dishes. A commercial greenhouse can be a selling point for health-conscious consumers and supporters of sustainable farming.

One of the specialties of Conservatory Craftsmen is commercial greenhouse construction, so if the idea above appeals to you, you’re already in the right place.

Modern Features

Automation is the mark of a modern conservatory, and it is a luxury that’s worth spending on.

Fully-automated conservatories boast self-closing roof blinds that are heat-activated. Once the interior reaches a specific temperature, the system triggers the blinds to extend across the glass roof. Automated windows work the same way. With the addition of a rain detector, you don’t have to run up to the conservatory and pull the windows closed if it rains.

Conservatory Craftsmen offers these features, including remote automation which allows you to control automation settings from your smartphone or through a voice-controlled speaker.

We do our best to maximize technology to give you something extra. Why settle for plain additional space when you can have it plus modern luxuries? If this sounds good to you, let’s talk. Get in touch with Conservatory Craftsmen today.

The Case of the Homeless Lemon


This lemon needed a conservatory home built for it in Atlanta, GA.

The “Homeless” Meyer Lemon

I received a call from a lady with a slight southern charm to her voice, right after Christmas.

She said, she needed a conservatory and was coming to see me, ON NEW YEAR’S DAY!

Well she showed up, Meyer lemon in hand and declared that this lemon “needed a home.”

As it turned out, a recent storm had removed a huge beech tree from her back yard, and it was time for a ‘do over’ of the back yard.

Coupled with the fact that she had just bought a Tesla and had no place to charge the vehicle, a garage was also on the list.

She had studied and planned for quite a while and was clear what she wanted to have.

A conservatory to her was a place to grow many varieties of plants for great joy and healthy eating.

She grows herbs and other edibles and wanted access to them all year round. In addition to growing plants, she also wanted to be able to spend serious time in the conservatory, enjoying the Atlanta seasons and even sleeping in her room as well.

Carol commissioned CC to build a conservatory to house her Meyer Lemon tree.

Jim and Our New Friend, Carol

I first visited her when the construction of the garage was first breaking ground. She had a great contractor named Wes who looked after her every detail.

We had come up with a plan for the conservatory that was a bit of a cruciform with a linkway to the garage, as there was a second floor to the garage plan (a bit of an apartment) and it had a window we could not remove. Solution? A linkway from the garage to the conservatory.

We also designed a lantern roof for the second elevation of the roof to gain a lot of height, for tall plants and trees.

She invited me to stay as a guest at her house and we got started early every day, laying out and planning the room.

Her Tesla was being charged from a cord that extended from the driveway into the laundry area, where she unplugged her dryer to charge up the car! She was so very eager to get the project to a point where she could park in the garage and charge her cool car.

The landscape garden was laid out and the room was designed to fit as a feature in the garden.

We did the pre-manufacture of the room and shipped it and our crew to site. On site we assembled the steel portal frame (for the lantern roof) and began to build the conservatory.

Local stone masons were on hand building the stone knee walls and work progressed along in a wonderful fashion.

Jim and Mary, the great neighbors next door, put up the crew for the 10 days we were there and everyone got to work and relax with one another. Truly a unique experience.

We completed the Conservatory and left Carol to fill in the blanks with her many orphan plants from the patio and the house.

An arial shot of the completed conservatory complete with the hanging bed she had envisioned.

Completed Conservatory with “Tingling” Bed

Her conservatory was designed and built to serve many functions.

The Conservatory’s Hanging “Tingling” Bed

She then began a plan. She wanted a work table to hang in the middle of the room, but she also wanted this work table to transform into a bed, so she had a place to stay on the beautiful Atlanta star lit nights.
She called it a Tingling Bed but it is a wonderful creation that doubles as a work table and a comfy sleeping quarters for a truly remarkable lady from the south who is as smart and gracious as any Southern Lady could be.

How to Dine Al Fresco Inside


Minnetonka Orangery Angled Front View

The Perfect Orangery for this Dollhouse

Sometimes we just need more natural light in the house. There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying the morning sunrise with your breakfast, coffee and the newspaper.

Recently, we were asked to develop a plan for integrating a conservatory into a kitchen and eating area, located in the western part of Minneapolis.

A kitchen is a challenging spot to add a glass roof because of cooking moisture and condensation on glass, but with proper air ventilation design, this has never been an issue in this great kitchen.

A traditional home requires a traditional design to the windows and detailed trims. This addition fits this home perfectly.

Don’t make the mistake of adding to your home and making your living spaces dark and dreary.

Think about glass, and all that Conservatory Craftsmen can offer to enhance your life.

Minnetonka Orangery Kitchen View

The Orangery is a Natural Extension of the Kitchen

Orangery ceiling and glass

There’s Nothing Like Dining Outside… Inside


Endless Summer – Pool Enclosures that Provide Style and Savings

The endless summer is a dream for many people who enjoy warmer weather. Days of heat and plenty of sunshine are attractive to those who prefer to be outdoors, on the beach, or sitting near their pool.

While you can’t make summer last forever where you live, you can get one step closer to an endless summer using a pool enclosure. Pool enclosures that provide style and savings also give users the benefit of allowing them to keep their pool open all year.

The Benefits of a Pool Enclosure

Although perhaps the biggest benefit of pool enclosures that provide style and savings is that they allow you to use a pool all year, there are some other great reasons why people like using them for their pool.

One of the big benefits of a pool enclosure is that less debris will get into the pool once the enclosure is up. There is no need to worry about leaves drifting down from nearby trees and into the pool. Since there is less debris in the pool, less chemicals are necessary to keep it clean, which helps improve the water quality.

Also, when you use pool enclosures with the right type of glass, it is much easier to maintain control of the temperature of the pool. Sophisticated solar glass can help you make sure that your pool maintains a sufficient temperature.

Although these are some highly desirable benefits, pool enclosures do not come without their own guidelines and best practices that you should pay attention to before attempting to get one constructed.

Considerations to Make When Building Pool Enclosures

One of the most important things to think about before building a pool enclosure is your climate. If you are constructing a pool enclosure in a cold-weather climate, make sure that you account for the weight of snow and ice that could build up on the enclosure in the winter.

You also have to be sure that you choose the right materials. Since pool enclosures are usually fairly wide and long, you will want to use sufficiently strong building materials to make sure that the pool can be supported properly.

Pool enclosures that provide style and savings will give your home a great aesthetic without breaking the bank. Best of all, you can come closer to the dream of the endless summer, since you will be able to use your swimming pool even when it is chilly outside.

Wood vs. PVC: Materials Make All the Difference

We receive many requests from around the country to fix and repair previously built conservatories on homes. For the most part, these are vinyl (uPVC) conservatories that have been built with in the last fifteen years. Most have polycarbonate roofs, and in most cases, the polycarbonate has failed.

If it were just a matter of replacing the polycarbonate, this would be simple, but indeed the whole issue is quite complicated.

How to glaze a vinyl roof
The roof frame is assembled on top of the erected windows. This is a rafter bar that is attached on the bottom to the eave and on the top to the ridge. The polycarbonate panel is then set on the rafter, ridge and eave. Capping is friction fit over the polycarbonate. This capping is plastic, and co-extruded with rubber to create a seal against the polycarbonate. The capping has a center prong that friction fits down between a kerf in the rafter, and will not pull out again unless with extreme force. The ridge is the final cap and done in the same manner.

This is where the problem arises. The cap generally shatters when removed, and the older the cap is, the more UV deterioration has occurred making it even more brittle. Unless fresh new glazing caps are available to replace them, the roof will be unable to seal with the new polycarbonate.

Almost all companies that have built or manufactured these vinyl conservatories are out of business. They made a huge impact on the early market because of price, but were unable to maintain a place in the market when their structures began to deteriorate. In the case where the company may still be functioning, the extrusion has been replaced and updated (primarily because of the Kioto Agreement of 2008). Old extrusions are not available. Thus, replacement parts for these structures are not available. If we were to take the responsibility for the roof, at the point where materials are unavailable to repair the roof, we take on liability.

So, the answer is simply replace the roof.

Not so simple.

The windows below are glazed on sight (meaning the glass is installed after the room is constructed). In order for us to remove the glass on the vertical wall so we can release and replace the roof, we have to remove the glazing beads from the windows themselves.

Same story as above: The beads are plastic, they degrade and become brittle in the UV and they break upon removal or replacement. It is for this reason, the only response we have to repairing a conservatory roof made of vinyl (uPVC) is to replace the entire room. Our replacement is with aluminum, thermally broken and powder-coated. We have aluminum rooms that we have built 25 years ago, and yes, we have replaced polycarbonate. There is no problem doing so.

Aluminum is an upgrade to Vinyl, so we are unable to provide apples to apples estimate for the replacement value of the vinyl room. One may endeavor to find a company to provide and install a vinyl conservatory, but that is a daunting task. Glass roof is an upgrade to polycarbonate, but the reason for the initial insurance claim is the polycarbonate. It has a 10 year+/- life span, whereas glass is lifetime and permanent. However, glass is also an upgrade. As a further upgrade, customers may wish to have us build their rooms from Mahogany, wood, and these rooms are serviceable forever, as wood can easily be accessed and milled to fit. We are ready and available to answer any questions that home homeowners or insurance adjusters may have for us. Please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss them.

A Home Addition Worth the Investment

I began to build conservatories back in 1988. Back then, I was representing Amdega Conservatories, out of Darlington UK. I would present their incredible catalog to prospective homeowners, and without any pause, the first words out of their mouths “when I win the lottery!”
It was a polite way of saying “I could never afford this”, and that was just from looking at the pictures. No one even asked the price of a conservatory! But had they looked closer, they would have realized that it’s very similar to any other home addition.

Naturally, projects of that investment level often required the assistance of an architect in the overall planning. They would begin to work with the Amdega template and soon discovered that Amdega was actually a kit which only came in specific sizes and dimensions. The architect quickly then realized that they could not ‘design’ a conservatory, only manipulate one.
Back in those days, I made a vow that:
1. Conservatories would be affordable
2. Conservatories would be custom designed to fit any situation presented by the architect
My search began in England, as that would be the logical place to explore options in the conservatory industry. I brought back many ideas, many of which would never fly in our harsh Minnesota climate. Most of the UK, had been invaded by vinyl (UPVC as they call it). There was a huge development in that industry in Europe and windows and doors were flying off their hinges as consumers got in line to replace their old wooden, single pane sashes, with UPVC framed, double pane glass. Out with the charm and in with the warm!

While the conservatory industry was thriving in the UK, I was exploring for better ideas. I brought the vinyl idea back to the US and met with many architects and building officials – I still am grateful to a building inspector in the City of St Paul who took much of his time to help me research the products – but in the end, it was a thumbs down, and here were the reasons why.

Vinyl, though being a non-maintenance item, does not mean it has great longevity. UPVC companies have spent fortunes trying to make vinyl UV resistant, and have come great distances with the research. At the end of the day, however, it still deteriorates. Eventually, it will turn hard, brittle and break. How do I know this? We have done many repairs and maintenance on vinyl structures around the country to find when we remove roof sections, the extrusions crumble. OK, so just contact the manufacturing company right? Well, guess what, they are either out of business, they no longer make that part anymore, or have upgraded and improved.

Oh, did I mention the Henry Ford philosophy that applies to vinyl rooms? You can have any color you want, as long as its white!

It is definitely something to consider when shopping for any product in your life. What happens when this product ages and you cannot obtain parts anymore? Well, if it’s a stereo or TV, you get a new one. But, I am discussing an addition you just put on your home! An ‘improvement’ that has a shelf life, like a car and needs to be replaced!

That is why our conservatories are wood or aluminum. Let’s say, for discussion sake, that a tree falls on your conservatory. Bad luck, I know, but it could happen. There is nothing on our rooms that we cannot replace 20 years after we build them, meaning you do not have a depreciating investment on your home.

Now let’s talk about price. One would think brand name conservatories, you know, the manufactured products sold by the big names (not to be mentioned, but you know who they are), would be cheaper. Well, you are correct, the are cheaper – for the company, but not the consumer.
Remember, we are a small, family, sell direct company with no middle men. We design, we counsel, we educate; we do not sell. We assist you with making a wise and lasting choice when buying something as serious as an addition that will long affect the value of your home.

Unlike the new car you just bought, your conservatory should add value to your home for all the years you live there. It should be the feature that sells the home. Joan M. had me build a conservatory for her a few years back but because of a work transfer she had to sell the house. She called me to say that the first people who walked into the house, walked right into the conservatory and said ‘we’ll take it!’ Sold! One conservatory with attached home.

If you bought a new Chevrolet, we have a conservatory for you. If you bought a new Audi or Lexus, we have a conservatory for you. If you bought a new Porsche, we have a conservatory for you.

Take a look at our new e-brochure and find the custom conservatory that fits for you.

“If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Quit”

It is my usual approach to bring up the objections, as customers will not usually come out and say what is bothering them. However, the other day, an old gent says to me “you can never get a conservatory to look like it was always a part of the house.” I think what he was saying is that a conservatory is so unusual of an architectural feature in this market (America) that one could never make it look normal. There is some truth to that. A conservatory will always be a focal point of a house, because of its stunning beauty. But to look like it belongs? Let’s discuss that:

My answer was “The two ‘F’s. It fits or its folly”.
orchardridge-3Here is what I mean. Long ago, I had the opportunity to put a conservatory on a home designed and built by Cass Gilbert (architect of the MN capital and Grand Central Station). As you can imagine, there were several architectural committees that had long discussions over this. In the end, the general agreement was: If you make the conservatory look like Cass Gilbert designed it, it will never work. One needs to step forward and design a conservatory that does not come close to the architectural design of the home. It must be a folly.
The lesson I took from all this was. If the design is close to looking like the original design, you have failed. It either has to match exactly, or not at all.

Yesterday, whilst sitting with a couple in Iowa, planning the paint color of their terrific new conservatory, we debated the colors that appear in the brick home. A lot of deep red and brown. There was no way that conservatory was ever going to look like an original design of this home, even with the brick knee wall integrating the conservatory with the home design. So the color chosen was a deep, matt green. A folly. Yes, not even close to any color on the house, but a wonderful statement none the less.

So remember the two ‘F’s. It fits or its folly.

Top 3 Outdoor Rooms on Houzz

This week in our Best of Houzz series we are falling in love with some seriously fantastic Outdoor Rooms from some seriously fantastic architects and designers – we are loving this category so much we may even give you 3 more next week.

1. Contemporary Outdoor Room

Contemporary Exterior by Austin Architects & Building Designers has architects

2. Outdoor Kitchen

Contemporary Porch by Sydney Architects & Building Designers Danny Broe Architect

3. Classic Outdoor Room

Traditional Patio by Huntington Architects & Building Designers MJW Architects (Michael Jay Wallin)