Design

Sunny Outlook: Six Tips for the Perfect Sunroom

Versatile and useful, sunrooms are a great way to add living space to your home and enjoy the outdoors while being protected from bugs, wind, and rain.  The correctly designed sunroom can add space, light, and enjoyment to your home.  Before we delve into how to create the perfect sunroom though, let’s first look at some definitions to clear up any possible confusion.  A sunroom is a glassed-in living space attached to the house that serves as additional living space during mild-weather but may be too hot or cold in the middle of summer or winter.  Closely related is the screen room, which is essentially a sunroom but with screens instead of glass.  The two are rather interchangeable since you can often have screens behind glass, or removable panes of glass over the screens (or vice versa).  A four-seasons room is a sunroom that has the option of being heated or cooled, allowing for use year-round no matter the outdoor temperatures.  While sunrooms, four-season rooms, and screen rooms are all technically different things, they’re similar enough that the following tips will work for all of them.

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Establish Zones

Sunrooms are typically created as extra living space and can have multiple functions like playroom, workout space, or bonus dining area.  To help keep the space from becoming a mess, decide what you plan to use the sunroom for, and establish zones for each purpose.  Take advantage of corners and small nooks.  A built-in or stand-alone corner bench can easily become a daybed or seating for a small dining space.  Color, pattern, and texture can all be used to help distinguish the areas while keeping the decor unified.

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Choose Suitable Furniture

Once you know what you’ll be using the space for, you’ll know what kind of furniture is needed.  Whatever the use of the space, sunroom furniture does have some specific requirements.  Since it’s protected from the elements you’re not limited to using only outdoor furniture, but all the exposure to the sun can still cause problems.  Try to avoid using leather since it will quickly fade, dry, and crack without regular leather moisturizing maintenance.  Look for furniture and upholstery that is fade- and UV-resistant to get the most out of your sunroom furniture.  You also may want to look for furniture with built-in storage to help keep extra pillows and throws out of sight.

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Plan for Quick Change Decor

As mentioned in the paragraph above, upholstery in sunrooms is more susceptible to fading than fabric throughout the rest of the house.  Consider white or light-neutral slip-covered furniture.  Slipcovers are easy to clean if any dirt gets tracked in from outdoors, and the light color won’t fade (or won’t fade as noticeably).  Plus, with a neutral base you can easily change the pop-of-color accents like rugs and pillows with the seasons, or just keep them in steady rotation to help combat fading.

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Focus on the View

One of the reasons most people get a sunroom is to enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of inside.  While it’s nice to have conversation areas, make sure not all the furniture is turned inwards.  If you have a nice view and lots of windows, you want at least some attention to be drawn outside.  Depending on the orientation of your room you may need to add window treatments either for filtering the sun or for privacy.  Look for window treatments that won’t take away from the view when not in use.  Blinds that can be rolled up and light-weight cotton or linen curtains that can be tied back are the best options.

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Transition Between Indoors and Out

Since the sunroom is a bit of a transition space between outside and inside it’s nice to include elements of both.  Potted plants are a great way to achieve this balance.  They bring in some of the color and life of outdoors while being contained appropriately for inside.  Just be careful not to go overboard or you’ll end up distracting from the view outside.  While it depends on the size of the space, a couple of large potted trees or a few (less than ten) smaller potted plants is a good goal to aim for.

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Don’t Forget Lighting

It can be easy to forget about lighting for sunrooms because during the day the space will mostly be lit by the sun.  But if you want to extend the use of the room into the night or on inclement weather days, you’ll need to add some extra lighting.  Overhead lighting is a good bet, and can help add some visual interest to the ceiling if you choose a more sculptural fixture.  If you plan on doing any reading or hobbies in the sunroom add some task lighting in the seating area.  Strings of light can help add ambience if you’re using the space to just lounge or hang out with family or friends.

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Sunrooms are generally designed to fit the look and feel of the rest of the home.  Though they’re often a bit on the casual side, if the rest of your decor is more traditional or formal a sunroom can easily match that style as well.  These tips are flexible and will work well in creating a stunning sunroom no matter the style of decor.

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