Thursday, June 26, 2008

Your Own Sun Room

We love our sun room so much that I’ve become convinced everybody who can ought to have one. Even if you can’t afford one today, you can hope and plan for when times get better. Even if you have to convert some other room, you can never go wrong with a sun room, even if for the time being you must use it for a bedroom or living room. You'll like it better, sleeping or dining in a sun room. (And let's face it, a formal living room, these days, is superfluous anyway.)

Here’s what I consider desirable for a sun room to succeed in bringing you a great deal of pleasure.

If at all possible, it should face south. (But if it cannot, do not let the necessity of some other orientation deflect you from building it!)

It should have three glassed-in walls, ideally, but even if it can only have two, or one, making the sun room is still well worth doing. If you can't have three glassed walls, make the glass of the remaining walls floor-to-ceiling. If you can glass in only one wall, consider a giant bow window, perhaps with French doors in the middle. I don’t know why a bow or bay window lets in so much more light, but it does.

Walls, in my humble opinion, ought to be painted some very light color and the ceiling should be white – again, to maximize the sense of light. (Dark just doesn’t seem to go with a sun room.)

A high ceiling adds to the sunny, airy, outdoor feel.

The floor should be of some durable material: tile or laminate or high quality vinyl. If it’s tile, be sure your structure is strong enough to support it. You may need to reinforce the floor by, for example, adding pilings underneath. Tile is fun because you can make your own design with it, using accent tiles, borders, mosaic inserts, whatever. Also, with tile, keep in mind that it will either soak up a lot of warmth from the sunshine (dark tiles) or reflect a lot, so you may like to take your climate into consideration.

Climate control. If this is a new room, you may need a separate heating and cooling unit. We have a heat pump to do both, with which we are very pleased. It’s called a “mini-split ductless system”. (Google those words to find some.) There’s an inside unit that mounts high on the wall and looks a little like a window air-conditioner but much better, sleeker. It is controlled by a remote gadget. Then there is the outdoor unit that sits on the ground. Cost can be as low as $700 plus shipping and handling but double that to include installation. A ceiling fan is also a plus, for when you just want a breeze.

Window Treatments? Whatever you like. We like our curtains. They are on clip-rings that slide over the curtain rods for easy opening and closing. First we put up the sheers, very plain, as sheer as we could find, to give us maximum viewing outside yet privacy in the daytime. That way, we can come to breakfast in our robes. Then, we put up – well, actually, in place of regular curtains, we put up more sheers! But this time, sheers with a lacy design. We needed 18 panels and couldn’t decide which (solid) color of four in that design we liked best, so we bought them all! Yes, we did, and alternated them. We’re debating now whether each window should have its own color, but the overall effect in either case is both festive and unique. It somehow gives the room more of a hotel or commercial look than a residential one, which is fine with us. The privacy factor at night is not 100%, but it’s still surprisingly good when all the curtains are drawn, as good as we need, anyway.

Furnishings? No opinion yet! We haven’t furnished ours very much. I was thinking wicker or rattan, but then Demetrios pointed out that we plan to use this room all year, and I do think few things are more dismal and forlorn-looking than summery items in the winter. Summer is my favorite season, and I dislike reminders that it is gone. One of our friends, though, has a sun room with white wicker furniture and hers doesn’t depress me in winter, so I’m still not entirely set against that idea.

In any case, at least a table and some chairs will be necessary, and probably some lamps. We just bought a floor lamp with five heads and five shades that match all the colors of our curtains. I’ve also bought a sparkly, blown-glass vase that accents some of the colors. We’ve also bought a small glass table.

This may be a good place for some fun furniture, such as a hanging “basket” chair or a hammock, although I fear the latter would spoil the looks. Well, we look forward to making this lovely space even lovelier.

Meanwhile, there’s a baby cottontail on my lap, licking itself clean, so I will stop now to admire what a good job he or she is doing.



DebD said...

Thanks for these tips. We have a south-facing sun room that is basically unusable. I would love to fix it up. What we really need is a separate heat-pump as you suggested (and new windows!).

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Shamassy Monica said...

Sounds wonderful. Can you post some pictures?