September is here, the high holiday season is over and the school’s are going back. It’s a time of change as we start to notice the nights drawing in and the green of the first leaves starts to fade.
We become aware that the best of the year’s weather is probably now behind us. It’s not unusual to feel a touch of the post-summer blues as we anticipate what lies ahead.
All of which make seeking out as much of the summer warmth and sunshine for as long as possible a very attractive proposition. It’s a time of year to really savour the last remaining bright, sunny days, to make the extra effort to get outside whenever possible.
Another option is to stretch out the last knockings of summer not by embracing the outdoors even more – but by heading inside instead. No, not by hunkering down in the cosy depths of darkened, warm houses. But by making full use of the lightest, brightest room in the house, that part of our homes that represents a crossover space between indoors and out – the conservatory.
The weeks where late summer gradually blurs into early autumn is when having a conservatory really comes into its own. On those days when there is first a chill in the air despite the sun shining brightly, that’s when you really appreciate being able to bask in the warmth still tucked up behind glass.
Long after the autumn breezes make sitting outside a less than attractive prospect, you can still get your fix of revitalising natural light sat warm and comfortable in your conservatory. And that’s why now, as we approach that transition period from outdoor living to moving back indoors again, is the perfect time to cast fresh eyes over your conservatory.
Are you making best use of the space? Is it as comfortable as it could be? Would you use it more if you invested in new furniture – and therefore get the full benefit of the warmth and brightness it offers well into the autumn and beyond?
Here at Jo Alexander, we always say, if you are lucky enough to have a conservatory, you might as well make the most of it. And the way to do that is to furnish it so it becomes an inviting space to sit, relax and socialise.
Outdoor style all year round
One of our core beliefs as a vendor of luxury home furniture and garden furniture is that the lines between the two categories are often drawn too thickly. There is more crossover between what works inside your home and outdoors than many people believe. And your conservatory is the prime example of this in action.
When you think about the kind of furniture that works best in a conservatory, it’s likely to be closer in style to garden furniture than to what is conventionally considered, say, living room or lounge furniture. Big, bulky, thick-set and heavily cushioned three-piece suites would be too imposing in most conservatories, taking up too much space.
Yet the type of slimline, lighter weight sofas and armchairs widely marketed as garden furniture, often timber framed or made of wicker, are also perfect for a conservatory. With a more stripped-back feel to them, they suit the bright, airy atmosphere of a conservatory perfectly. Plus they make more economic use of space, if that is a factor.
The suitability of garden-style furniture for a conservatory allows you to start thinking more creatively about how you can use the space – and also about how you can get more from your investment in pieces of furniture.
For example, we often think of a conservatory as a kind of secondary living room or lounge, a place to decamp on bright, sunny days to read a book or chat with guests over tea and coffee. But a conservatory makes an equally good dining area, with all the benefits you get from using it as a sitting room – i.e. it’s a great place to capture the warmth of the sun’s rays whatever the actual temperature is outside.
Again, a big thickset dining table of the kind you might opt for in your dining room might not feel quite right for a conservatory. But something smaller and more delicately designed, such as a space-saving round dining table, provides both a feature and an extra option for how to use the room.
In our view, the key here is flexibility. You might baulk at the idea of investing in a secondary dining set for your conservatory when in reality it might only get used on a dozen occasions each year. But if the table and chairs can then be moved outside when the weather improves, you are doubling the value you get from it. You have an outdoor dining suite that still gets used from time to time during the colder months.
The same applies to seating, of course. And this is why wicker and rattan in particular make for such good options for both conservatory and garden. Armchairs, sofas, coffee tables, even loungers made of wicker are incredibly lightweight and easy to move around. You don’t even have to be fixed in terms of where they reside season to season. When we get colder spells during the summer (which is a nailed on guarantee), it’s easy to move wicker furniture into your conservatory, where you can continue to enjoy a taste of the outdoors until the temperatures climb again.