New Conservatory and Greenhouse Project

Posted April 17th, 2010 by Alan Stein and filed in Conservatory Projects
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cons An architectural rendering showing the new conservatory and greenhouse on the right side of this home.

This really cool project that we’ve recently begun work on is actually two projects in one. Attached to the client’s house is a new conservatory, then attached to the custom conservatory (with a bell shaped dome) is a new greenhouse.

The architect on the project contacted us and sent drawings of a scheme he developed and asked for some guidance.

We realized that the trick to designing these two great spaces was to make them relate to each other yet at the same time, be expressive of their very different functions. The conservatory (on the left) is a wood structure while the greenhouse (to the right) uses an exposed steel structural system. We wanted the two adjoining rooms to be quite different. A conservatory is usually used as a living space. People are the primary inhabitants. A greenhouse is for plants, though a wonderful place for people to spend time as well.

Many people will try to use a conservatory as a greenhouse because they like the beautiful details and design of conservatories and there are not many greenhouse products available that have the same level of attention given to their design. Historically, the great conservatories of the nineteenth century were all horticultural houses. Only in the last thirty years did the idea of using a “conservatory” as a living room type space become popular (and feasible).

Working with the architect, we produced drawings of several design solutions and met with the entire team to decide which was best. We gave the greenhouse the same degree of design effort as the custom conservatory.

For example, we created eyebrow windows, a very unusual and distinctive feature for the greenhouse, on each side of the new room, with the lapped glass domed roof curving above them.

We will be following the progress of this unique job through the shop and will continue to keep everyone posted on our work.


Greenhouse vs. Conservatory

Posted April 18th, 2008 by Alan Stein and filed in General
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What’s the difference? According to Webster’s, there isn’t any. If one looks up the definition of a conservatory, it will tell you that it is a greenhouse. Both are glass rooms in which plants can be grown. But just as a violin and a fiddle are the same instruments, there the similarity ends. The way in which they are played makes all the difference.
It is the way in which a conservatory is used that distinguishes it from a greenhouse designed exclusively for the nurturing of plants.

While some greenhouses offer design features that set them apart from the purely utilitarian, they usually are not designed to be living spaces so do not offer the creature comforts we expect from the environments in which we live.

A conservatory on the other hand is suitable not only for growing plants, but also accommodates the opportunity for a myriad of activities. Dining under the stars, luxuriating in your private spa, enjoying fireside conservation with family or friends, are just a few possibilities suggested.

Whether it be an extension of your home, or a freestanding garden or poolside venue, an appropriately designed conservatory can fulfill both your needs and your dreams—including those of growing beautiful plants– by creating a year ‘round living space that is unlikely to achieve with the common greenhouse.

Greenhouse conservatory project

Posted December 23rd, 2007 by Alan Stein and filed in General
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Nancy and I recently attended a party at the newly completed home of the client who’s greenhouse conservatory is pictured on our website page: Dome Palmhouse

It is an amazing home with each room being finished differently in various exotic woods. Even the windows in the different rooms are completely different. One room has steel casements, another mahogany triple-hungs etc. You might think that this effect would be one of disharmony – and it could have been, but this holds together very well due to the skill of the architects, Custom Design Concepts Architecture, in McLean, Virginia.

There was a beautiful two-story, round, walnut-paneled library with an old-world looking steel balcony that is lined with bookshelves and has a domed ceiling painted with images reminiscent of the great classical frescos.

John Kiernan of Blue Line Studios in Warrenton Virginia is the artist responsible for the work. A former police officer turned painter he has studied many years to become a master of faux finishes and “reality” murals and in 2005 he was inducted into “Salon”, the International Society of Decorative Painters.

Check out John’s website at

I’m going to post some more pictures of this amazing conservatory soon. It was the first project that Tanglewood undertook which has an exposed decorative steel superstructure inside. In the meantime you can get a preview by looking at “Our Portfolio”, page #10 on our website.