What no glazed sanctuary should be without: the conservatory awning
We hear so much about the trend for indoor / outdoor living these days that it’s often described, thanks to our sunny climate, as the embodiment of the Australian life style, resulting in a growing demand for outdoor areas as extra living spaces complete with dining, lounge and even kitchen amenities.
But another key way in which Australians are now bringing the outdoors in is in the inclusion of conservatories as part of their home’s layout. These light filled areas are a wonderful addition to the home, providing a relaxed space somewhere between the outside and the inside. Some of the grander period homes may already have original conservatories, while in other cases, conservatories are being added to existing homes or designed into modern ones. Typically conservatories can be found at the back of the home as a prologue to the garden or yard, although in some cases they’re added to the sides of homes and occasionally even the front.
The key plus about conservatories is their propensity to welcome buckets of natural light into the home as well as enabling expansive views of green planting, lush lawns and even endless skies. Continuing the outdoor/indoor theme, as well as the time-honoured original purpose of conservatories, many are full of gorgeous potted plants in a huge array of shapes, sizes and colours. Throw in comfortable lounge suites, considered artworks, a coffee table replete with books, or even a relaxed dining zone, and it’s easy to understand the oasis-like appeal of the conservatory.
Having said that, there can be a downside to these glassy havens; on warmer days natural light can become an uncomfortable solar glare, while views to the outside become less appealing in a room that’s swelteringly hot. One of the most overlooked factors when renovating or designing a conservatory area is the consideration of shading, yet without it all that glazing becomes truly uncomfortable, defeating the many wonderful lifestyle aspects offered by conservatories. So it’s crucial to be aware of all the shading options available.
What to look for in your conservatory awning
Shading a glassed over area, often with large horizontal planes and high ceiling heights, initially seems like a daunting project, however there are a number of specially designed systems available that consider the unique requirements of conservatories, such as whether to shade above the glass or beneath it, (often a matter of practicality, exterior access, weather conditions, or even just simple visual design appeal) the need for automated operation at the touch of a button, or the possibilities that the addition of lighting or heating to your awning can open up.
There are a huge number of awnings on the market, so to help your selection it’s worth thinking about some of the features and benefits to look for. One thing that’s important in a conservatory awning is a well-designed mechanism that keeps your awning taut and offers permanently high cover tension. An example of how this can be achieved is through special gas-piston mechanisms that are designed to maintain the optimum tension for your awning.
Noiseless operation is also a big benefit of high quality conservatory awnings; there’s nothing worse than extraneous or unpleasant noises coming from the operation of your awning during a relaxed supper party or the middle of movie night. In addition, many of the better awnings on the market feature specialised designs to create an appealing closed appearance that removes any unsightly gaps between the cover and the guide tracks.
Cassette design is also worth considering when you’re choosing your conservatory awning. If possible you should choose a sleek cassette that creates a smooth, uncluttered profile. Choosing the right fabric is also essential. Some homeowners believe this should blend well with your interior décor, meaning they typically opt for the more popular neutral shades. However there are now a number of bolder colours available on the market and many people choose these as a way to make a real design statement with their awnings. Essentially the kind of fabric you choose with to a large extent be dictated by whether your conservatory awning is external or internal, but it’s also worth remembering that you may want to co-ordinate whatever you choose with the other shading solutions throughout your home. Frame colours are also important; gone are the days of bog standard stainless steel options and most reputable suppliers will offer frames powder coated in a range of colours, allowing you to coordinate these effectively with your interior décor and the style of your home.
With the right lighting now considered an essential element of home décor, it’s perhaps no surprise that many conservatory awnings now come complete with LED strips or spotlights that allow you to create the right atmosphere with your awning. In fact, many conservatory awnings also even come complete with infrared heating options, which can really add to the comfort factor of using your conservatory, particularly in the cooler months.
As mentioned, most conservatory awnings now come with motorisation options including standard and remote control. It’s worth pointing out too that many feature wind or sun and wind sensors, essentially this means that your system will be responsive to prevailing weather conditions, enabling automatic expansion when the sun’s glare reaches a certain level or automatic retraction in high winds. On the subject of the weather, some conservatory awnings have a particularly high wind rating, which makes them ideal in coastal or high up areas. Again, for coastal areas in particular where there is a lot of salt in the atmosphere, it’s also worth choosing awnings with ECR - extra corrosion protection for coastal environments.
These days designs are so sophisticated that there are are even models available that are specifically designed to work with bevelled roof lines while others, in the case of external models, feature handy add-ons such as integrated rain gutters to enable smooth water run-off. When making your conservatory awning selection, make sure to run all your questions and queries past a consultant who can guide you in the right direction. Once you’ve picked the best model for your purposes, really, you’ll see that sky really is the limit when it comes to conservatory awnings!