Sunrooms are the smartest way of bringing the sunny outdoors into the house. They are built as an extension to the living spaces with large glass fenestration running all along the edge of the room. With natural light and pleasing view of the surroundings, sunrooms make a great space to relax or entertain family and friends. Large glass windows are the most distinctive feature of sunrooms. They allow ample natural light and lend an open feel to the space.
Design your sunny area
Though a typical sunroom features huge glass walls with a supporting structure, these rooms can be built using various designs and styles depending on the budget, utility and the layout of the rest of the house. Sun rooms can be styled as full glass rooms or partial glass rooms. Partial glass rooms are built using knee level walls on which high glass windows are fitted throughout the room. Sunrooms with partial glass normally feature skylights to enjoy the different angles of the rays. Full glass sunrooms are made up of series of metal or wooden posts to which glass is fitted directly.
Traditionally, sunrooms did not have power supply and were meant for enjoying the warmer months. But now the sunrooms come with HVAC units and are available in two variations, three season sun rooms and four season sun rooms. Three season sunrooms, as the name suggests, are built with single pane glass windows and are not efficiently insulated. Hence these rooms are less functional during extreme weather conditions. Four season sun rooms come with double pane glasses and added insulation offering year round comfort.
The materials used for the window frames and the roof also play a major role in shaping the sun rooms. Window frames are available in aluminum, vinyl and wood, but vinyl frames are more sought after now as they are energy efficient and easy to maintain. Unlike aluminum frames, vinyl frames withstand coastal weather conditions very well.
Sunroom roofs come in various shapes and materials. Glass and polycarbonate are the popular choices. Glass offers good clarity and is highly aesthetic but quite expensive to install. Glass roofs have better insulation properties when compared to polycarbonate materials and thus glass material suits four season sunrooms. Polycarbonate roofs are easy to install, lightweight and durable but may not offer clear view from above. Three season sunrooms are normally built with polycarbonate roofs.
The style of the roof is another important factor that should be given due consideration. Roofs are constructed using different styles like Gable, straight eave, curved eave and pyramid. Gable roof features 'A' frame, sloping down from central ridge on both sides. Gable roof helps the rain water and snow flow off the roof easily. Curved eave roof style is an interesting variation to the usual design where in the roof is curved at the place where roof and wall intersect. It allows abundant light inside. Straight eave, unlike curved eaves are angled at the point where roof and wall meet.
Bring in the sunshine
A sun room is usually a favorite hangout and adding right furniture and comfortable furnishings will only make the place more special. It should have right blend of interiors, from flooring, wall colors to furniture and furnishings, to add instant panache to the space. Try and keep the decor simple and minimalist and allow nature around to do the talking.
While choosing the furniture for a sun room, look at functionality, durability and comfort. The materials used should be able to withstand the bright sunlight. Sun room furniture should be made of natural materials preferably with raw finish instead of bright plastics.
Furniture made with wicker or wrought iron frames with upholstered cushions is a popular range for sun rooms. Though wicker furniture is light and almost weather proof, it has a tendency to develop mold during winter months. Hence it requires regular cleaning and airing. If you are opting for wrought iron, use anti rust coat over the paint to increase its life. Cane wood or rattan wood is also widely used for sun room furniture. Cane furniture looks stylish and comes in various designs to suit all types of sunrooms. This furniture too requires frequent cleaning and airing to extend its life.
Shades and blinds made with bamboo or light wood is an excellent choice for the sun room windows. They not only lend an earthy look to the space but can sustain the bright sun light much better than traditional curtains. But if your heart goes out for fabric curtains, make sure to give a lining to protect it from fading.
Use plenty of natural fabrics like cottons and muslin. Light wispy sheers and cotton cushion covers with bright floral prints make for a vibrant decor. Green plants and flowers infuse color into the sunroom. Avoid elaborate lighting accessories for the sunroom, the whole idea is to bring in the natural light and bask in the beauty of sun rays.