If you’re fortunate enough to have a sunroom, chances are it’s your favorite room in your home. Sunrooms offer not only natural light in the daytime hours and views of the landscape, but also a comfortable space to relax and unwind in the evening.
The first sunrooms showed up in the 17th century. They gained popularity by the 19th century, when materials such as steel and large panes of glass were more affordable and readily available. Sunrooms evolved from screened-in porches; these allowed views of the outdoors from within, but dirt and debris were a nuisance.
Today, sunrooms are a high priority in both new builds and historic dwellings in many regions. They embrace several styles and may include French doors that open to a deck or patio, and vinyl, wood, brick or aluminum around windows that, in many designs, span floor to ceiling.
Some sunrooms, formally called solariums or conservatories, also have glass ceilings. Many are used year-round; these four-season sunrooms are truly an extension of the home, some boasting central heating and air.
Their interior design can be as lavish or minimal as you desire. Elements such as curtains or sheers and fireplaces — either wood-burning, gas or electric models — can be used. Chandeliers, ceiling fans and artful wall sconces also add personality, function and charm.
Sunroom Design Tips
Abbe Fenimore, owner and principal designer at studio ten 25, offers these suggestions for creating the perfect sunroom for your home.
“Making a sunroom an extension of your home is an important piece of selecting color for the room,” Fenimore says. “Try adding pillows and accessories that tie in with the colors you already have in your home.”
Use a neutral base in the room, she advises. “Gray and navy are a great place to start; you can layer with beautiful, bold colors in the spring and summer, and warmer tones for the fall and winter.”
When it comes to sunrooms, Fenimore says designers are seeing a move toward furniture and accessories that look more like interior pieces, and she encourages saving the wicker and wovens for outdoor spaces.
“Sunrooms are great places to have comfortable seating upholstered in fabrics including outdoor velvets, chenilles and leathers,” she says.
Most people don’t want to give up the use of their sunroom when spring and summer are over. “Sunrooms make great places for TV rooms and reading nooks in the colder months,” Fenimore says. “You can always bring in a portable electric fireplace [or heater] and some cozy decorative throws for added warmth.”
Flooring in sunrooms typically consists of concrete, brick, wood or tile. Area rugs add texture and help designate spaces within a large sunroom. Intricate floor designs, such as mosaic tile or brick patterns, are best left uncovered.
Many plants thrive in sunrooms. They naturally filter the air and truly bring the outdoors in. Popular plant picks for sunrooms include begonias and African violets, which are fairly low maintenance and produce colorful blooms year after year.
Peace lilies are another great choice for adding greenery to your sunroom. They grow tall, fill space in corners and balance larger furniture pieces.
Your sunroom can be a place of joy and respite not only for you, but also for your family, friends, pets and plants.