What’s the Difference between Conservatories and Sunrooms?

Conservatories and sunrooms are functionally very similar, but are differentiated by the level of stylistic decor present in the structure’s design. Conservatories by nature are highly decorative and period specific, featuring window grids, finials, crown molding, Palladian arches, ridge cresting, and other decorative elements.


Conservatories are glazed structures that feature a glass roof and/or glass walls. These structures can be attached to existing construction or be designed as standalone units. The term ‘conservatory’ is more commonly used in Europe, especially in England.

Conservatories originated in 16th century Europe as a way to preserve citrus and other plants brought back by explorers. The original purpose of the English conservatory was to protect plants from strong winds and extreme cold weather.

While conservatories can house and even propagate plants, their primary function is the creation of additional living space. Conservatories serve as seating areas, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchen extensions, and pool houses; the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about Solar Innovations® Conservatories here.


‘Sunroom’ is a term most commonly used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. A sunroom is typically less decorative than a conservatory. The room can be added to a building or a preexisting room can be modified to become a sunroom by replacing the roof with a glass roof or walls into windows.

Grids can be integrated into windows, ridge cresting can adorn the structure’s roof line, or a Palladian arch can be inserted into a gable end to provide stylistic accents. These decorative touches give sunrooms a more traditional appearance, however these are more commonly found on conservatories.

Sunrooms can create a unique focal point or blend seamlessly into the surrounding architecture. Sunrooms are also known as solariums or patios.

Learn more about Solar Innovations® Sunrooms here.

Still can’t decide which is better for you? Our structure experts are always available to help you plan and build your one-of-a-kind sunroom or conservatory. Contact us today to get started.