Home Conservatories

By Andrew Dolan

Today, clients look for a very diverse range of amenities in their homes; fitness centers, wine cellars, home theatres, spas and even golf simulators. Of all the things that clients tend to look for, a conservatory is rarely on the top of the list, let alone on the list at all. Perhaps the idea of a home conservatory, or greenhouse, is an antiquated concept. Back a time long ago, way before Trader Joes and Whole Foods, people would often depend on what they grew in their conservatory or greenhouse to survive. This is obviously not the case today, as modern convenience has removed the necessity for such a space and unfortunately its broad appeal. Our modern lifestyles tend to lack the time required to maintain such a space, especially for one at a second or third home.

(Above) The Marble House, Newport R.I.

(Above) The Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, NY.

(Above) The White House Greenhouse Complex, Washington DC

I understand that today a conservatory or greenhouse is a luxury most people cannot afford when one can easily go to the farmers market or grocery store, but I often find myself nostalgic for a time when conservatories were integral to a homes’ operation. To me, the idea of being able to grow a garden in my house or year-round on my property is a really quaint and practical amenity. I’m optimistic that the green and organic movement today may one day yield a widespread desire to incorporate such a space in people’s homes in the same way that people today desire a home theatre. 

(Above) Greenhouse, Pavonetti Architecture, Austin TX

I was able to build and realize a greenhouse of a much smaller scale and budget (less than $100) using leftover wood and some plastic, and although it pales in comparison to the complexity and beauty of the greenhouses above, it gets the job done.

(Above) My design on a dime greenhouse.