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The Conservatory Goes Grey

I don't really know if you can call our conservatory a conservatory, it's not exactly what I envision when I hear that word. This 'room' is more like a dodgy lean-to, part built as a kind of garden greenhouse and partly built as a utility room. It houses plumbing for a washing machine, has a ready installed washing line and the previous owner appeared to use it for growing plants in too. It's a pretty odd room, built to accommodate far too many uses.

As for the actual structure of the building - well, there leaves very little here to be desired. Built in the 1980s complete with a terrible thin plastic roof, this room enters temperatures at minus figures during winter and leaks during heavy rain. The walls are just one brick thick, presumably built onto very shallow foundations with a terrible combo of single pane windows sandwiching a double glazed door. The room sucks the light from both the dining room and kitchen, both of which have no connection with the outdoor space, thanks to this terrible obstruction.

80s conservatory renovation

Why aren't we tearing this the hell down I hear you ask?! Well, despite all of the above, I really quite like this room. It's so light and bright and I think it has good potential for summer usage. It'll never be a warm room in winter, mind - and short of rebuilding the whole thing, it'll never look particularly pretty or period-fitting from the outside, but there's definitely still room for improvement - and I also think there's ways to bounce light into both the dining room and kitchen without tearing the whole thing down.

In an ideal world, I would have this re-built properly, open up the entire dining room and kitchen into it and have it as one beautiful glass extension, with a huge open plan kitchen-diner. But sadly, our budgets are considerably lower than we could ever afford to have that done!

dirty polycarbonate conservatory roof

So what do we have planned? Well, replacing the leaky conservatory roof was one of this years renovation goals and we desperately wanted to get it done before we go away in a few months. After all, retuning to a flooded conservatory was not something we wanted to deal with. Due to the very basic and weak structure of this conservatory roof, double glazed glass roofing was completely out of the question. I naturally looked into it, as a comparison cost, but to go for a glass roof option would have cost upwards of £1000 and putting that amount of money onto a poorly built structure is not a vey good investment idea. Not to mention that we don't have that kind of money for this project anyway.

So, despite it not being the greatest ideal solution - we will be sticking with polycarbonate. A much, much better polycarbonate roofing solution than currently in place, mind. It will have better insulation properties, zero condensation and it wont be so damn dirty and discoloured either.

beams in conservatory

We'd also like to replace the strange mix of glazing at the front of the conservatory and have one big french door with two sidelight panels. Removing the brickwork under the windows will allow much more light into this room and give a much better view of the garden from the dining room too. We'd also like to hide the terrible 80s brickwork by cladding the outside in wood, so that it appears much more modern and juxtaposes against the period Victorian house. Whether it will look as good as it sounds remains to be seen.

Internally, we don't intend on changing a great deal - we'd like to add some insulating plasterboard to the single brick wall (one on the left), lay some flooring and generally give this room a lick of paint. The washing machine will probably be moved back into the kitchen and this room will just become a little summer snug. BUT, before all of that(!) we need to replace the roof. And even before that - we needed to repair and prep the beams. Most of them were all fine, but a couple were looking just a little worse for wear....

wet rot in conservatory

Hello, wet rot, my old friend. The windows of our first home had a serious case of wet rot, so I knew exactly how to fix this. I used a wet rot wood hardener first, which as its name suggests, literally hardens the wood to prevent further breakage. Then I used a High Performance Wood Filler to fill out any holes or gaps in the wood. The stuff I used absolutely wreaked and whilst the tin said "do not inhale" the smell was left for a good week afterwards. Definitely keep windows and doors open as much as possible using this stuff! I did have to go back over the filling a couple of times to get a good finish.

repairing wet rot
products for repairing wet rot
wet rot repair

After a good sand, I then applied a fresh coat of exterior wood paint to the beams and of course... it was grey! Yes, I have something of a major obsession with grey and it's quite simply uncontrollable. This colour is appearing in basically every room of the house and I can't stop! I know grey is probably a slightly strange choice for essentially a ceiling BUT I wanted to keep the walls (or at least all but one) in this room white and I felt like I needed some kind of colour contrast. I also thought painting the beams a colour would help encourage you to look up, which will hopefully (when the roof is replaced and less dirty) will add a greater dimension of space. I don't really know, but I have to admit I do like it.

painting beams grey
grey beams in conservatory

It looks just a little less bland and makes a bit of a feature of out the beams. After all, if you can't get rid of something ugly, you should make a feature of it instead. That's kind of the idea here. I'd quite like to hang some festoon lighting along them eventually too. I think it already looks way better, I even gave the conservatory a total clean up and removed all the junk (to the attic).

80s conservatory reno
painted beams in conservatory

What do you think? Would you have kept this room or completely teared it down?

Total Costs

(rounded to the nearest pound)

New Tools Purchased:

Materials Used:
Paint £20
Wood Hardener £9
Wood Filler £12

Total Costs: £41


  1. It's definitely got potential, all it needs is some love! Painting the beams grey was a great idea, I'm with you on turning the ugly, inescapable things into features ;)

    1. So glad you agree :) Not always the most ideal solution, but a bit of creativity goes a long way! Just reading up on your blog and loving it BTW... I love seeing other peoples renovations! :) xx


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