A sunroom can look like an enclosed porch or a solarium to your houseplants. Or, it might resemble a functional part of the living space, a normal room that only happens to have huge expanses of glass and also terrific light. Plan your conversions from the start to integrate the sunroom with the rest of the house. Or, adapt a sunroom without adequate weatherproofing or gravitas to be a seamless extension of the living room.
Function Plus Kind
You have got the big sunny windows, the curved glass ceiling or the skylights, the whole fish bowl. It’s a sunlight magnet, but you want more than that to your sunroom to become a viable all-season living space. Explore the feasibility of installing radiant under-floor heat to keep toes toasty when the light from the sunroom is really a reflection off the ice banks out. When that isn’t possible, a stove or fireplace are alternatives for heat the room, and they provide a bonus focal point on gloomy days. If the room is exposed to neighbors and passersby as well as sunlight, you want to build in certain privacy. Consider half-walls across the foundation of this room that anchor strong color drapes hung at ceiling height that reach to the ground. Landscape that the outside of the room to get extra camouflage.
The floor should, ideally, match the ground of the adjacent dining and living spaces. You certainly do not need a patio-style paver or concrete floor — hardwood, terra-cotta or oversize ceramic tile, or carpet looks more substantial and less “converted porch” If you can’t cover or alter a casual or concrete floor immediately, lay a sisal or seagrass carpet over the whole thing, wall-to-wall, and add a patterned rug over the grass mat to define the dialog area. Select seating, tables, lamps and case furnishings from a house decor catalog, not a patio and porch catalog. The room is weatherproof, so go ahead and add the linen sofa, the chamois poufs, the leather and aluminum Mid-Century Modern chaise, as well asthose period floor lamps you snagged online. Use wicker sparingly and nothing else webbed.
Real age will rub off on your latest sunroom addition and lend it some dignity. Incorporate architectural salvage into a sunroom makeover to make the space seem as if it’s been part of the house forever. Old casement windows from a tear-down Victorian let in the light through a prism of period design. A vintage fireplace surround of embossed and etched copper or bronze frames glowing logs in timeless fashion. A dock glass over the mantel bounces even more light around, to compensate for the interruption of mullioned or multi-paned window frames. Restored old wood-blade ceiling fans along with oversize mature ferns and plants say “historic” and “inherited,” not “used to be the porch only last week” Add an oriental rug similar to the ones visible in the adjoining rooms.
Arches and Arbors
The accessibility to this sunroom is critical to its mix with your typical living space. Solid doors are out; discard them and create open archways in which the present living room merges with the sunroom. If you will need to close the room off sometimes to conserve energy, swap the shut wall of strong doors for a series of French doors that can be opened wide when the sunroom is in use. And do not sacrifice all of the advantage and charm of using a sunroom when you design your decor. A sunroom can be a sandstone, an indoor greenhouse abloom year-round with exotic blooms, towering palms, rustling stands of stone, enormous verdant ferns, a wall of bromeliads, a window box of African violets, a hothouse of compelled blossoms. All that sun-fed greenery is great for your soul, so allow the plants be the artwork in your sunroom living space.