How to Furnish a Sunroom + What To Avoid

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

I recently received a lovely note from a reader, named Jennifer who’s from Houston, TX and struggling with how to furnish a sunroom. And, since it’s the middle of winter and freezing in Houston, lol, what better time to discuss rooms that are meant to capture the sun’s rays to fool us into thinking it’s uhhh, summer, not winter, I guess.

Jennifer is in italics

Laurel kibitzing is bold teal.

 

***

 

Dear Laurel,

I am a big fan and never miss a post.

In addition, I’m also a design addict and consume every resource I can find. It’s truly an obsession. I especially love your blog because

I see you as the Alton Brown of interior design – you show us the science behind the magic.

 

 

Thank you! I’m a fan!

 

I’m writing to suggest you create a blog post on sunrooms;

 

Specifically How to Furnish a Sunroom

 

I can’t be the only one struggling with one, and I’m struggling greatly.

Fortunately, I’m killing it with the rest of the house – I’ve wrapped my dining room in a magical Susan Harter mural; painted my limestone-cabachon-floored north-facing den a lovely dark shade, grass-clothed my bedroom, and I’ve even managed to find a spot for some very cool Phillip Jeffries rivets.

 

But, I CANNOT, for the life of me, figure out this damned sunroom!

 

It’s an adorable, albeit totally superfluous, self-indulgent space which looks out onto the yard. You see it upon entering from the front door and living room. So I’d love for it to shine.

 

But how? What does one do with a tiny room (12’X17′) that serves little purpose and consists mostly of windows? What does one do with a room that essentially gets TOO MUCH light?

 

My first thought was to sunroom it up and lattice any surface that wasn’t window, but I’m not so sure it’s an interesting enough place for something so bold (8′ ceilings and too little wall space for cool lattice-work). Plus, that just seems crazy.

 

My current plan is more subdued.

 

Good!

 

It consists of white walls (my house is White Doved to the hilt) and persimmon silk curtains (Brunschwig & Fils peach rust) – a la Tory Burch in the Hamptons (I love that post you did about how to get the look for less) but, I’m not sure. It’s already got white floors, and all that white gets so bright in that little box that I don’t think even a beautiful B&F silk can make it homey. Bleh!

 

Honestly, the problems abound.

 

Most color competes with the garden, but white is too stark. Wicker seating seems so cliché.

 

It definitely can be.

 

However, upholstery is so heavy.

 

It doesn’t have to be.

 

And, a little sofa with its back to the window seems to defeat the whole purpose of the space (looking out said window), but it’s too small a space for much else. It’s indoors, but it’s outdoors.

The juxtaposition is killing me. And don’t get me started on how it’s too cold in the winter

 

Hold on, just a snot-freezing minute sister! Did you say that you’re too cold down in it-never-gets-cold-enough-to-snow-Houston? ;]

 

and too hot in the summer. I realize that’s a problem we can’t solve. Oh, and the room is currently my daughter’s playroom and contains the most egregious giant blue Barbie house.

 

Well, before you know it, you’ll be waiting up until 2:00 AM wondering why she’s not back home from her date yet.

For the record, the sunrooms abound in my neighborhood.

 

What, it’s not sunny enough in Houston? ;]

 

These are old houses and nearly every one of ’em has a little sunroom attached to the side with several walls of windows, a fireplace, and just enough space for a little seating area. They’re these great little bonus rooms but they don’t feel like such a bonus once it comes time to figure out how to actually use them.

Sincerely,

Jennifer

 

*********

 

Thank you Jennifer. I had no idea that sunrooms proliferated in Houston. We have those little sunrooms here too. I’ve talked about them numerous times.

 

I do know that sunrooms, in general, are popular in northern climates. In fact, in Wisconsin, they are frequently called “Florida Rooms.” haha. Wishful thinking. However, with enough heat AND artificially added humidity, I imagine that the room can feel quite refreshingly warm and rejuvenating.

 

Before we get into how to furnish a sunroom, I’d like to take you back in time to look at the origins of the sunroom.

 

The sunroom is actually a 20th century invention. But, the idea evolved from European designs which began in the renaissance period.

 

Orangerie Axel Vervoordt14th century orangerie from Axel Vervoordt’s beautiful book about timeless interiors.

 

The well-heeled wanting to grow citrus in the winter time created the first sunrooms, only they called them conservatories or orangeries. We sometimes call them solariums.

 

What’s the difference? Is it like vase and vazzzzz?

 

Well, sometimes. ;]

But, as I see it, a sunroom needs to have mostly windows on at least two sides and usually three sides of a room or part of a room. Also, they almost always look out onto a garden and/or pool.

A conservatory is more traditional; a solarium, more contemporary, but both have a ceiling largely made of glass to let in as much sunlight in as possible.

An orangery is very much like a conservatory, but has a little less glass and is more architectural. But sometimes the differences are so subtle that it’s not worth talking about. I imagine that some use the terms interchangeably.

As usual, Laurel spent way too much time looking at the part that interests her the most. haha.

And what is that Laurel?

 

Well, it’s the architecture. The outside. I adore classical architecture, you know!

 

Clapboard Colonial Brooks and Falotico - Conservatory - Orangerie - Sunroom

Above and below by Brooks and Falotico

Clapboard Colonial with Conservatory Sunroom Brooks and Falotico

I mean, when you have something that’s as incredible as this, who gives a freak what the furniture looks like? Just stick some bean bags in there and bask in the sun.

 

Oh, Laurel, you can’t really mean that!

 

Well, all I can say is that I hope this place is set back far off the road, because I know that I would be driving right off of it, if I passed this beauty!

 

But, never fear; we’ll get to the furniture in a bit.

 

Let’s begin with the outside before we tackle how to furnish a sunroom, conservatory, orangerie, solarium; whatever you wish to call yours.

 

 

21 months ago, on a visit with my son Cale, I took the photos above and below at the Bronx Botanical Garden which features this beaux-arts architectural gem of a conservatory. The glass sculpture in front is from the Chihuly exhibit that was going on at that time.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Spring 2017 - photo Laurel Bern Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Sweet, huh? It was April.

photo Laurel Bern - Ben Pentreath Conservatory

This is a photo I took during my trip to England in the fall of 2017. This conservatory designed by architect, Ben Pentreath houses an indoor swimming pool! Out of concerns for privacy, I’m not allowed to say any more than that.

You can find more images of this amazing house and other work of Ben Pentreath by clicking this link.

 

Let’s take a look at some other beautiful sunrooms, conservatories, etc. And then, we’ll go inside to look at how to furnish a sunroom or conservatory.

 

 

Brooks and Falotico conservatory

Another Brooks and Falotico conservatory

 

Parish Conservatories - orangery

Parish Conservatories – orangery

 

Conservatory entrance

I love this entrance surrounded by windows.

 

Tanglewood conservatories - sunroom - lakehouse

 

How stunning is this!!! from Tanglewood Conservatories

And then I found the most marvelous company in the UK, Vale Garden Houses.

The rest of the outdoor shots are all from them. I would have them build the entire house!

 

Vale Garden Houses bespoke-garden-orangery-large

 

Vale Garden Houses Georgian conservatory - organgery - sunroom

Oh, my! Above and below two views of this extraordinary orangery from Vale Garden Houses.

Vale Garden houses wrap-around sunroom - orangery - conservatory

Vale Garden Houses also ha a superb explanation in that link regarding the difference between a conservatory and an orangery if that interests you.

 

wooden-conservatory-interior

A view from inside.

Now, we will focus on how to furnish a sunroom, conservatory, et al…

 

(That is, if you want something besides a couple of beanbag chairs)

We’ll also discuss the different uses for these sunrooms.

And that’s because a sunroom can be ANY room in the house.

 

Commonly a sunroom is used as a dining room, so let’s look at some of those.

 

‘Washington Park II.’ Duncan McRoberts Associates, architects & building designers, Kirkland, WA. Laurie Black Photography - classic sunroom

 

‘Washington Park II.’ Duncan McRoberts Associates, architects & building designers, Kirkland, WA. Laurie Black Photography – classic sunroom

 

Darryl carter sunroom dining room

Always fabulous by Darryl Carter. For more of Darryl, click here.

 

Bunny Williams - sunroom - conservatory-small dining area

Above and below. Nobody does a sunroom or conservatory like Bunny Williams. Just copy her!

one kings lane_bunny williams_CONSERVATORY DINING TABLE

 

You can have a sunroom or conservatory kitchen

 

New-Canaan-Home-Tour-Designer-Mayling-McCormick-Kitchen-Anastassios MentisNew-Canaan-Home-Tour-Designer-Mayling-McCormick-Kitchen-Anastassios Mentis

 

Now THAT is an unkitchen. I’ll take it!

 

conservatory kitchen, original source unknown

source unknown but, what a cool kitchen!

 

There are sunrooms that are more porch-like. Or maybe they ARE porches that convert or were changed over into a sunroom.

 

one kings lane_bunny williams_SUNROOM

Bunny Williams

 

And let’s not forget Bunny’s exquisite home in Punta Cana!

 

Vale Garden Houses on instagram - Georgian orangery - pretty sunroom

Vale Garden Houses on instagram – Georgian orangery – pretty sunroom

 

Atlanta Homes sunroom reading nookAtlanta Homes sunroom reading nook

 

And, of course, there are sunrooms or conservatories that act as living or family rooms

 

Kurt Johnson photography - Tumblr - elegant conservatory

Kurt Johnson photography – Tumblr – elegant conservatory

 

James Merrell photo- interior design - Cathy Kincaid

James Merrell photo- interior design – Cathy Kincaid

 

Holy Wow! That’s gorgeous! And not a scrap of wicker in sight!

 

Curtis and Windham architects - sunroom elegantly furnished sunroom

Curtis and Windham architects – sunroom elegantly furnished sunroom

 

konig - photo Eric Piasecki - sunroom decor

This is a way cool home I think, designed by Rita Konig. Please check out the rest of it here.

 

 Furlow Gatewood Sunroom

Furlow Gatewood Sunroom

If you missed one of my favorite posts (or wish to revisit) about the extraordinary Furlow Gatewood click here. There are lots of great ideas you can incorporate for a sunroom.

 

Southern Home Meredith McBrearty sunroom

Southern Home Meredith McBrearty  – A sunroom overlooking the ocean!

 

deborah-herbertson-sunroom

Deborah Herbertson – charming, slightly Boho sunroom

 

Marie France Cohen - NY Times - Interior-Design-French doors
Marie France Cohen – NY Times – Interior-Design-French doors

This is a stretch for the sunroom idea, but I do love this home!

 

Well, Laurel, you didn’t tell us HOW to furnish a sunroom.

 

Don’t mean to contradict, however, I believe that did, granted, not in words. You can do pretty much whatever you want!*

 

A sunroom or a conservatory is really just a room with a LOT OF BIG WINDOWS.

 

But, unless you have a cottage-y kind of home and want your sunroom to have a porchy feel, please don’t think that you HAVE to fill it with wicker, wicker and more wicker. You don’t. And you don’t have to paint the ceiling blue. But, of course, you can do that too.

I do see sunrooms as generally being more casual spaces. But, they are also an extension of the outdoors. So, it’s a good idea to take that into consideration too. That’s why the best colors usually mimic or at least compliment the colors outside.

I love slip-covered furniture and I do love rattan and wicker. But, I did a sunroom once with two leather chairs. I talked about it here.

 

*The only thing that you need to worry about is putting in furnishings and fabrics that won’t get wrecked by the sun.

 

Ahhh… remember this post filled with fabric nightmares? We NEVER put silk anywhere NEAR a sunny window. You can if it’s lined and interlined, but even then, why chance it?

Therefore, unless you already have the sunroom or conservatory, it’s important to consider what you will be using the space for.

As for other considerations like flooring? Well, again it depends. You can do anything that you would do in a kitchen. For some great kitchen floor ideas, please check out this post.

Oh, I always forget about my work, but if interested, there are some other sunrooms here that I have done.

You can see them in my portfolio    here.   and here.

 

There’s a verrrrry old post that’s pretty badly written, but there are some nice sunroom images.

And, of course, we can’t forget Lotte Meister’s exquisite home with her en suite kitchen/sunroom.

Well, I hope that got the wheels churning for some of you.

Actually, I’ve always loved HUGE windows, and especially transom windows like you see here.

I could easily live in an entire sunroom home. Well, just as long as I could have some shade from the sun. Oh, the irony; the bright sun gives me a giant headache!

xo,

 

 

PS: please don’t forget to check out the newly updated Hot Sales pages!

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Jennifer - January 25, 2019 - 6:47 PM

    I KNEW you would knock it out of the park! This post is perfect and your curation of examples is just what I needed!

    My sunroom is definitely an extension of the house (any more glass in Houston and you’d probably burst into flames in the summer, so it’s just those two walls of windows…I can’t even imagine what the death would be like if the roof were glass!), so I’m going to go for upholstery but add in more plants than I have elsewhere. I love the idea of decorating with greenery, which should differentiate the space from the adjacent rooms and negate my concern about all the white (I really do prefer the white where I can get it to work). I’ve also realized via some of your examples that a game table is just what the room needs! That’s it! It would make the space feel more casual/comfortable and give it a real purpose. We would totally play games in there! And a table also makes a great work space when it’s just me!

    And oh my goodness, thank you for the reminder about silk. Geesh, that was about to be an expensive mistake!

    Finally, I do realize the Barbie house will be short lived, so I’m patiently biding my time. I thank my lucky stars for my little girl, but it might not matter, because the images you shared of these kitchens makes me feel like we need to move anyway. My house is great and all, but I’m definitely going to need a kitchen like that before I die.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I may be biased, but I really feel like this is one of your best posts yet. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 26, 2019 - 1:39 PM

      Sorry it took me so long to publish you wonderful comment Jennifer. I’ve come down with a nasty cold and trying to lay a little low.ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - January 24, 2019 - 12:48 AM

    I can’t hear you, Laurel. I’m too lost in the dreamy photos. I adore sunrooms.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Davis - January 23, 2019 - 5:28 PM

    I think this New Orleans home is the source of exterior with pinky brick/green shutters.
    http://privatenewport.com/in-the-garden/inspiring-garden-design-11-tips-for-creating-a-courtyard/

    Your posts are such a treat–thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte Faller - January 23, 2019 - 4:41 PM

    Amazing post, Laurel! Pouring over the design details of your gorgeous sunrooms was a wonderful way to spend a cold, gray, rainy afternoon. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 11:40 PM

      Glad that you enjoyed it Charlotte. It’s a good topic for a middle-of-winter post, for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Claire - January 23, 2019 - 4:19 PM

    This is such a great post, thank you! Would you consider a part 2, what to put on the windows? We have one of those Westchester sunrooms with 7 windows and close neighbors. The Hunter Douglas Silhouettes are beautiful, but just not affordable. Is it strange to leave woven wood blinds closed all the time? I considered drapes and something for daytime privacy, but it’s just so much fabric when they are opened.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 11:39 PM

      Hi Claire,

      I often do Roman shades. You could also do woven woods. You wouldn’t have to have them down all the way. Sometimes I have also done wood blinds.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - January 23, 2019 - 2:46 PM

    I have a horrible confession. I have a four season sunroom facing north/east/south. I looks out over a 22 acre park. When I purchased the house, I knew I was going to have ankle transplant surgery which would require being bed bound for about four months. I planned to recover in that room.

    Plans change. My mother had to come live with me just six weeks before the surgery. She immediately gravitated towards the sunroom which became her solace for having to leave Florida.

    After surgery, I retreated to my very nice bedroom with the same view but only on one side. I think I thought I would have my bed set up in the sunroom originally.

    Now understand one fact: we have cloud cover equivalent to Seattle in my city in the MidWest.

    My mom is gone now, but psychologically that is her room. It is comfortable all year round except for the below zero weeks we have here right now.

    However, I somehow am glued to my room rather than the sunroom. Now every time I am in there, I can both feel healing and her spirit, but I can’t seem to get in the habit of staying there.

    When I move to my retirement home, it will not be half as wonderful as my present home. Nevertheless, I am glued to the wrong room during this time I have left in this home.

    It is furnished decently with two recliners which look like regular wing back chairs and a glass table for eating which she often did in there.

    Have you all heard of this kind of room attachment? I have to add that I am partially handicapped and just feel more comfortable relaxing in my bed, but it is not good psychologically.

    This doesn’t come from any bad feelings. Rather it has to do with possession and territory.

    Going there on a day like today is not so inviting, but as soon as minus degrees disappear, it is lovely out there.

    The decoration could be refined, but it is perfectly pleasant right now. I had what wall surface there was painted a blue/lilac which frames the sky and greenery, even the snow, just beautifully. Kitty loves it and stares into the darkness watching for all the animal movement for a good portion of the night.

    My apologizes for being a downer.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 9:23 PM

      Hi Ramona,

      Actually, everything you say makes perfect sense to me. I’m so sorry for your loss. Life isn’t easy. But, what I’m hearing is that you love your room. It’s your place of solace. Mine is too, even though I love my living room. However, I hear you fighting what your natural inclination is.

      It’s like you’re saying to yourself, “This isn’t right. I should be in the sunroom.” Well, I am telling you that it’s okay to stay where you are and be content with that. It IS the right room for you. My guess is that you feel lonely in the sunroom because you’re missing your mom, especially when it’s cold out.

      {{{BIG HUGS}}} and please give your kitty an extra kiss from me. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Sarah (mcgizzles) - January 23, 2019 - 2:33 PM

    Laurel!

    I have surfaced from underneath a river of children’s barf to take a break and look through all of the ga-ga-gargeous spaces. Thank you, thank you for a beautiful distraction. I mean. Holy Moses.

    We have a sun room (we call by a much less romantic name: porch room) that I’ve always wanted to fill with greenery and pretend that it is a beautiful greenhouse. But alas. Every time I try, I kill all the stinking plants because unlike my children, they do not posses a voice to remind me to feed and water them.
    This post, as always, is immensely helpful! xo

    *on a side note, I would like to send a prayer to the design gods, that stacking books and placing objects on top will never ever go out of style. I simply can’t afford to buy tables or 1000 objects to be the exact height I need them to be in order to “feeeeeel right”. a(wo)men.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:57 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      Ahhh… I remember the barf-days… doing laundry at 2:00 AM. Good times! ;]

      I have ONE plant who has survived from December 2015. The others lasted from days to about six months– tops. It’s true, he’s not his former self, but he’s more green than brown. lol He’s a little evergreen I call “Joe.” I figured since he clearly likes it here, that he deserved a name and well, I got him at Trader Joes.

      One time, I forgot to water him for at least five days and when I remembered he was so dry and I felt absolutely dreadful. So now, I give him a little water EVERY DAY and he’s fine with that. I also transplanted him just before Christmas. I was afraid that would kill him, but so far, he seems quite happy in his far larger pot and prettier pot. When I go away, I put some clear plastic loosely over him after a good watering and then I use those self watering things which work pretty well. I was very nervous when I came back from England because that trip was 10 full days door-to-door, but he was fine.

      I realize that there are two types of people in the world. Those who love books on tables and also love them as stands for other objects. And those who can’t stand books on tables and hate even more using them as stands for objects.

      While I respect both points of view, I’m with you. And, others are too, so I think that we’re safe. The others will just have to look away, I’m afraid.ReplyCancel

  • Emily Sandelin - January 23, 2019 - 1:50 PM

    Would it help to block the glare to paint a portion of the woodwork black like I’ve seen on many posts? The inside parts and the framing around little squares—sorry I don’t know the names of these parts. Perhaps paint the walls gray, light to medium blue, or green? Perhaps a small loveseat or two chairs in slipcovers, with a small table or garden stool and a hanging lamp? Plants, of course.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:47 PM

      Hi Emily,

      That’s a good thought, but the frames of the windows are nearly black and they do nothing. The sun is just THERE in the winter months. Actually, it starts September 21 as soon as the tilt starts to move away from the sun and it peaks, of course in December. I moved in, in December and before I had shades, it was blinding in here mid-day. Seriously. I had to wear sunglasses!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Johnson - January 23, 2019 - 1:10 PM

    Well, Laurel, I looked at the headline before my first sip of coffee and thought your wrote, “How to furnish a SALOON”!!!! Now that would be a post! Each picture is more lovely than the prior one, and as I sit here in Alaska I am no longer frozen blue but green with envy. Best wishes as you continue your journey to health.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:45 PM

      Haha! Very funny and thank you for your well wishes too!ReplyCancel

  • Anne Harvey - January 23, 2019 - 11:22 AM

    Hi Laurel. Thanks for another fabulous post. I’m a transplanted Jersey girl living in Raleigh for the past 30 years, and those conservatories and sunrooms brought me back to the lovely old homes in the NJ countryside. North Carolina also has quite a few old homes with amazing conservatories. Wouldn’t it make a fun roadtrip to travel around finding these treasures?

    As much as I loved today’s topic, and they have all been wonderful, what inspired me to comment was your experience with static electricity! Some of us just have more electricity than the average bear, and no matter where we go, we are doomed to winter shocks. Despite awful humidity most of the year, when it gets dry in Raleigh, I get shocks all the time. My poor dog just doesn’t understand why my touch is suddenly electrified.

    I love the humor and humanity you inject in each post. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and self with us! Your posts are truly inspiring and helpful!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:43 PM

      Hi Anne,

      I just got back from a massage! Well, when I went in, the lovely woman behind the desk offered to take my coat. I heard the tell-tale crackle of a super shock coming on and was desperately looking for a scrap of metal to offload the current from the back of my arm. The woman I’m sure was quite confused until she handed me a tiny glass of water in a little round glass.

      Yeah, you already know what happened. I zapped her AND myself but good and the water spilled all over the place!

      My worst though, is doing laundry and taking stuff out of the dryer; a very delicate operation, indeed!

      It gives all new meaning to having an “electrifying personality!” hahaReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - January 23, 2019 - 10:49 AM

    Hi Laurel. Loved the blog! As you know our house is whited out as well. So was the sunroom. My painter almost fainted when I told him I wanted to paint it “Bleck”. Why would anyone want to…Well, we love it! I have seen other sunrooms in very dark colors and love the “twist”. As always your message is perfect: It can be like any other room in the house just with lots of windows. I treat walls of windows like “walls”. XOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:35 PM

      Thanks so much Nancy. Is “Bleck” like almost black? Or is it a typo? And I too, love rooms with a twist. Hmmm… that could be a fun post, but also a lot of research to find them. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Megan - January 23, 2019 - 10:34 AM

    I always think I’m just going to read the one post. Yet here I am with 5 other tabs open & an hour of ‘homework’ reading to do. These rooms were great! Reminding me of summer at my Grandparents’, so many good times in that sun room/porch. They called the lake side of the house the Front & the road side the Back.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:32 PM

      Hi Megan,

      I’m very flattered that you’re enjoying the blog. And glad that I triggered some happy memories.ReplyCancel

  • Liana Bennett - January 23, 2019 - 10:31 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    We have a nice 11 x 17 foot sunroom that I love. We’ live at 7,500 feet in Colorado, where winters are long and cold, so our sunroom gets used for so many things. Our sunroom is all metal and glass, even the roof, so, it gets full morning sun. And, it’s a nice room for watching the rain and the snow fall.

    In the beginning, I fretted about furnishing the sunroom. We used an old couch and a couple of chairs, that I made slipcovers for, out of a white and green outdoor fabric. It looked really nice, but, we never really used that furniture.

    Our sunroom became a muti-purpose room, and the big furniture had to go. The only furniture we keep in there now, is a small patio table and 4 patio chairs. We throw numerous dinner parties throughout the winter months, and the sunroom is perfect for entertaining, as it’s right off the kitchen. I use the patio table for a serving table, and pull the 12 foot, folding table and folding chairs, out of storage.

    Our koi fish spend winters in a 100 gallon tank in one corner. My big collection of geraniums, also spend winter in the sunroom, where they happily bloom all winter long. I also found the sunroom is a great place to dry bulky washed items. And, it’s also, a great place to work on my large art projects.

    You are right. I wouldn’t worry about furnishing a sunroom, until you’ve figured out all the things you want to use it for.

    Best regards,
    LianaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:28 PM

      Hi Liana,

      I love hearing all of these stories about people’s sunrooms and how you use them! Thanks for your sharing. Sounds great!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - January 23, 2019 - 10:21 AM

    Oh what a lovely post Laurel, making me dream of Spring or Summer, as I sit here on a gloomy, windy day in Central Kentucky. (Many northeners mistakenly think we don’t get winter weather here, but we do. ) I have a friend who converted a long, boring rectangular balcony at the back of her condo into a gorgeous sunroom/conservatory. Of course, she hired a designer. There’s a lot of white, some of it bead board, plenty of color, a lot of beautiful windows and marvelous motorized white shades that can be adjusted for the sun, and a beautiful garden view. There is some dark rattan, and some upholstered furniture, a round glass dining table to seat four and several wall-mounted air conditioners. It’s a lovely space to have a friend or two over for coffee or relax and read a book. Lucky person in Houston, she will easily find inspiration here. Fabulous post and gorgeous images. Oh we should all have sunrooms Laurel !ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:26 PM

      Hi Maggie,

      Oh, I know that you get winter in Kentucky! It’s very similar to the winter I grew up with in Evansville, IN. It’s a little more mild than the northeast but still, it’s winter.

      Your friend’s sunroom sounds gorgeous! And I bet that she uses the space a lot more than when it was a boring balcony.ReplyCancel

  • Ailsa - January 23, 2019 - 9:24 AM

    What wonderful pictures! (Should I call them “images” to be cool?”) And you are right: a sunroom is a … room, and should be furnished, well, however you want it to be, for whatever purpose.

    Our 1830s Greek Revival has a 1999 conservatory adjoining the kitchen, and it’s the most-used, most-popular room in this lovely old house! 12 x 21, with an old round table and (mismatched but happy) chairs at one end, and leather-and-slip-covered seating at the other. Cozy, private, spectacular in snow, deafening in downpours, warm in winter and cool in summer from its auxiliary H/AC unit — Your correspondent is blessed to have her sunroom!

    She should look into a through-the-wall or other independent unit for heat and cooling that one space. Ours is a GE, and it’s been working perfectly for 19 years. As for the Barbie house — enjoy those years, they pass SO quickly! A 12 x 17 room can accommodate two areas; play room and seating. Let that Barbie flag fly!

    Laurel (May I call you Laurel? Or Ms. Blog?) — I subscribed to your blog a few months ago, while researching how to “stage’a house for sale. (We will be leaving our beloved house soon; do you know anyone who wants a wonderful old house?) And found your very funny, and enlightening, post about that, and I was hooked. Thank you for the lovely stories and IMAGES, and the information and the many many laughs — Stay warm!
    Best wishes, Ailsa in northern NJ.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:20 PM

      Oh, I bet that your home is amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely comment!ReplyCancel

  • Janet Lorusso - January 23, 2019 - 9:15 AM

    Haha, such a problem to have a sunroom…not. And 12 x 17 seems big enough to do something with – although you might have to evict Barbie…Anyway, thank you, Laurel, for all the lovely images to cheer up this cold dreary day in the frozen northeast!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:17 PM

      You’re welcome, Janet. Today is more mild, at least but quite gray.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - January 23, 2019 - 9:14 AM

    In the early years of our marriage we had a colonial with a small sunroom off the living room. We treated it as a family room. We spent a lot of time there. When our daughter was born, we added a bassinet and it became her hangout during the day. All our neighbors had them as well. Although we didn’t have the money to do a lot with it (spent our money on kitchen and bathrooms), our next door neighbor took out the low ceiling and added skylights. I loved it.
    You can always add a stand-alone hvac system and upgrade the windows to make it nice for all seasons.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 5:16 PM

      Hi Susie,

      Those little rooms are very common in southern Westchester County, too. Towns like Scardsdale, Larchmont, Rye, etc. Oh, and Bronxville too. Usually, they started out as porches and someone turned them into a room. The little sunroom in Larchmont in my portfolio was a small converted porch.ReplyCancel

  • Paula - January 23, 2019 - 8:40 AM

    Jennifer, my advice is grab that room for your own quiet space before your child(ren) get too attached. Trust me, when they are teens, you will need it. In the Northeast these rooms turn into libraries or dens. Mine nearly fell off this old house as originally it was a covered porch with walls nailed up at some point and a faux fireplace erected on the inner wall. Now it’s my workspace (I can’t stand the word office) with the most beautiful late afternoon light – wrapped in BM Nantucket Gray (thanks to Laurel’s palette). Our solution to the winter chill is an electric fireplace insert (looks seamless like glassed in gas one) to throw off some heat in winter. Highly recommend it. Or gas if you have the room/budget/contractor to do it. I also love my solar type roll up shades. Never thought I would but they are woven/rattanish and don’t steal the limelight/sunlight. Thanks Laurel, and Jennifer. So much beauty and information in this post, classic architecture, rivet wallpaper and a Chihuly! I might never get to work today.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - January 23, 2019 - 8:34 AM

    Hello Laurel, You outdid even yourself on this post–each photo is more irresistible than the others. I loved exploring these rooms. And Thank You for fixing the Pinterest graying feature–now I can point to details to my heart’s content.

    A rarity for me, I think that each of these rooms is beautiful and livable in its own way. However, I do have a couple of notes. Who would place a HAT on a table that people might eat from? And although no one will listen to me, I now declare the era of placing decorative objects on sideways oversized design books officially OVER–it has gotten a little too cliche. (If I seem to be picking on the Furlow Gatewood photo, perhaps it is because I spent extra time poring over that feature-laden picture.)

    One note about sunrooms. Architectural detail forms the base of much good design, and these rooms loaded with windows have guaranteed architectural interest.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 10:40 AM

      Hi Jim,

      haha! We all have our peeves. And I’m understand how frustrating it is when people won’t listen. The nerve! I doubt very much that is Mr. Gatewood who left his hat on the table. A southern gentleman such as him would never do such a thing! And I doubt that he stuck those porcelains on top of the books either. I do hope that they’re filled with delicious sweets, however. Maybe some pralines?

      IMO, architectural detail forms the base of ALL good design. And that goes for modern, too. Phillip Johnson’s glass house, while deceptively simply is a mastery of architectural detailing in its unwavering minimalism. There IS no house. Only the things/people in it and of course, the gorgeous property.

      Oh, dear, I went into the kitchen because my phone as I was writing thing and well… the next video was the royal ballet on world ballet day. My favorite company!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 23, 2019 - 7:15 AM

    Ahhh…if only I had a sunroom. I’d even be happy with some more windows. Especially my kitchen. It has zero windows and isn’t even close to any rooms with windows.
    But if I had a sunroom it would have to have brick floors. I would design like Rita Konig’s space. With lots of patterns. It would have to have a bohemian feel to it.
    With a lot of antiques.
    You sure got my imagination churning this morning. Thanks for all the inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 10:11 AM

      I’m so glad Mary! I could’ve kept looking for images for a few more days with this one! But, I tried to put in a variety of styles that I thought were nicely done. Unfortunately, most of what I found was not very inspiring, furniture-wise. It’s horrible to muck up a beautiful space with cheap looking furnishings.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Bier - January 23, 2019 - 6:38 AM

    Great inspiration, Laurel! I love my sun room, but it’s very small, too small for large furniture. It’s typical for an early 20th Century Colonial Revival home in a close-in NYC suburb. It used to be surrounded by tall oaks, but after a few storms (Sandy in particular) it’s bleached with sun now. Like you, too much sun can give me a headache!
    I’ve been thinking of putting up awnings outside and painting the inside a dark green, kind of like blurring the border between inside and outside. One of my next projects!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2019 - 10:08 AM

      Hi Diana,

      One thing to keep the UV rays out is that there’s a film that has to be professionally applied to block it out. However, if you have lots of little panes, that would be a royal pain. There might be another way, with a plain storm window. It won’t block out the annoying glare of the sun, just the rays that harm furniture, including wood.ReplyCancel

      • Kathy - January 29, 2019 - 3:06 PM

        I wonder if the film can be applied to the storm, or if it could be made out of slightly tinted or UV protection glass?

        Old-fashioned wood ones can be installed with hangers and hardware (House of Antique Hardware or SRS Hardware) that allow them to be tilted to allow the breeze in.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 29, 2019 - 4:33 PM

          Hi Kathy,

          Yes, the film works if applied only to the storm window that’s covering the main window. And, I’m not sure if this is what you mean, however, if the glass is already treated with UV protection, then the film wouldn’t be necessary.ReplyCancel

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