Design Dilemma: Getting the Most Out of a Sunroom
There are two kinds of sunrooms. One is the sadly neglected type, used only occasionally when it’s reasonably warm outside. The second type is fully functional. It is used not only as a spot to soak up some rays on a cold winter day, but also as a study, a recreation room, a den, and sometimes even a kitchen. What separates the two kinds of sunrooms? In a word INSULATION. If you have an insulated sunroom with a heating source, you have enough to fully integrate this room into your home.
In the mood for a little sun and warmth, we thought we’d take a look at a little sunroom inspiration. What use are people making of their sunrooms?
A family room
Technically speaking, a sunroom is where all the walls of the rooms are made up of windows. That means the room above may not strictly be a sunroom, as it does have one solid wall. Still, this 1958 sunroom was not a four-season space until a recent conversion when it was transformed into a mid-century living space. The furniture and decor consists of recycled, reclaimed and refurbished material from garage sales, vintage stores and flea markets. Pretty cool, huh?
Below, another example of a sunroom that functions as a family room:
The room above is more truly a sunroom, but functions as living area, with a daybed, floor cushions, a coffee table and a dining table. And below, is another example:
See the kid’s toys on the floor? That means a child plays here!
A reading room
Bright and cozy, a sunroom can be a perfect place to cozy up with a book.
Here’s another example:
Well, not strictly a greenhouse, but a room where you can let your green thumb go wild! See below:
A dining area
This may be our favorite use of a sunroom. There’s nothing more wonderful than breakfast under the sun on a cold winter’s day!
Are you inspired to do more with your sunroom (or construct one if you don’t have one)? Bear in mind:
- The type of window glass you’ll use: The lower the “”U-factor”” of the glass the greater is its ability to retain heat. A single-pane glass window has a U-factor of 1.1, which is too high (these windows allow too much heat to be lost). Modern windows should have a U-factor of less than 0.3, resulting in very good energy efficiency. It is also important to note that some manufacturers include plastic films on interior panes, which increase the energy efficiency of the glass. If you live in a colder region you will want to make sure the glass used in your sunroom windows is “”Low-E”” glass, which boosts the energy efficiency by reducing heat transfer while filtering out damaging ultraviolet rays. Low-E glass will help you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “Selective Transmission Glass” will reduce heat gains to around 30 BTU’s on the roof and 79 BTU’s on vertical glass walls.
- Proper insulation is critical to reducing your energy costs and maintaining comfortable temperatures.
- Invest in fade-proof furnishings. A sunroom can be the perfect place to indulge your desire for a white couch, as fading will become less evident over time. Always keep in mind that furnishings exposed to bright light most of the year are going to fade.