Indoors or outdoors? Whether you’re planning a large-scale event, making a dinner reservation, or simply wanting to relax at home, it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly. Though the great indoors might provide endless design inspiration and year-round comfort, it’s hard to beat the organic, one-of-a-kind ambience Mother Nature has to offer. But as it turns out, it’s possible to get the best of the great outdoors and indoors in one place, and in the comfort of your own home, too. The secret? A sunroom.By definition, a sunroom or solarium is a porch or living room that is enclosed in glass, offering ample natural sunlight and safety from inclement weather. Whether you’re taking shelter from winter’s bitter chill, staying cool in the middle of a heatwave, or enjoying a spectacular view, anyone who’s lucky enough to have access to a sunroom will return to this space time after time.
Just like any other area in the house, a sunroom should be designed with the utmost care. One false move—especially one that plays down the unique mix of indoor and outdoor—and the hero of your home can feel a tad ho-hum. Ahead, some ideas to keep it looking, well, sunny.
Courtesy of Thomas Guy Interiors
Style the space with low-slung furniture.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking out to a soothing shoreline or whimsical forest—a great view is any solarium’s “wow” factor. When decorating this space, select furniture that works with your vista, not against it. “If a coastal view is the center of attention, clear the windows, use low-height furniture and natural materials, and keep the décor and clutter to a minimum,” shares Melanie Emmen, senior designer at AvantStay. “To elevate a sunroom, add an oversized rug, sufficient lighting, throw blankets, and ample tables for entertainment items.”
Punctuate the sunroom with plants.
“Fill the space with plants,” advises Houston-based designer Mary Patton. “I recommend creating an area for a collection of plants and since the room is bright, you can also incorporate some bolder colors throughout, as well.” With the right varieties and complementary hues, you will be able to craft a lush environment that strikes a happy balance between lively and serene.
Courtesy of HMS Interiors
Draw inspiration from your interiors.
Just because a sunroom brings the outdoors in doesn’t mean it has to feel like an exterior extension. For Hillary Stamm, founder of a California-based design firm HMS Interiors, it’s important to create a sunroom that looks and functions like a living room. The key? Using fabrics that can hold up nicely against the sun’s strong rays. “We love to use perennial fabrics and pillows that won’t fade,” Stamm shares, noting that the true secret is outdoor furniture, which she used in the room above to create a sleek and fresh vibe. “This will help keep the space special and gorgeous, but also resistant over time, since the area gets a lot of sun and will feel the weather.” Round out the space with a strong wooden table—complete with a mélange of books, candles, and fresh flowers—that will look its best, rain or shine.
Make room for a mirror.
Sunrooms are bright and airy in nature, thanks to their extensive lineup of large windows, so why not accentuate this standout feature? “Sunrooms, as the name suggests, should feel bright and airy; a place to enjoy the view from the comforts of your couch,” says Lane Thomas, co-founder of Louisiana-based firm Thomas Guy Interiors. “Mirrors are great décor additions that bounce natural light around the room.”
Throw shade in style.
Despite its name and reputation, a sunroom doesn’t have to be sunny all of the time. “Don’t forget to think in detail about window treatments,” designer Emilie Munroe explains. “A sunroom always revolves around great light and views, but at certain times of day or year, light will become piercing— so have a plan for how you want to block it effectively.” For the best results, Munroe says natural fiber shades are a great way to diffuse light. And while many dwellers enjoy the versatility of blinds, she does point out they can have a linear shadow effect.
Layer in a light fixture.
Sure, a sunroom will look bright and airy during the daytime, but how will it function at night? That’s a question Pulp Design Studios’ Beth Dotolo and Carolina V. Gentry know how to answer. “It is important to add some ambient lighting,” the duo explains. “Hang a pendant, rather than hardwired it, and have a custom cord cover made to add some character and a sense of playfulness.”
Jill Ochkardt Blaufuss
Add a wow factor.
For Minnesota-based designer Bria Hammel, a sunroom is the perfect opportunity to get a little creative. “Since it’s a bit of a luxury to have this extra space in a home, we love adding in a unique feature that caters to our clients and their family, she shares. Case in point: This well-appointed swing, which offers plenty of fun for the entire family.
Mix and match.
Think of a sunroom as a blank canvas—the perfect place to incorporate various sources of design inspiration. “The mix of classical furniture pieces with modern sofas and bright colors plays an important role in a room full of light,” shares Gonzalo Bueno of Ten Plus Three. Better yet, deftly mix and match furniture so the room pulls double duty; for example, work in a sofa that is perfect for lounging and a desk, too, so you can work in a sunny nook.
Source a surplus of seating.
If you want to turn your sunroom into a relaxing oasis, double down on seating options, says Elizabeth Gill. “Consider using a sectional or oversized swivel chairs,” the designer shares. “I like utilizing a mix of natural materials with pretty fabrics, which will allow the space to be used in both a casual setting with family or to host friends.” Cheery throw pillows make for a pretty finishing touch.
Create a comfortable space.
Ultimately, it’s important to create a space that is welcoming and comfortable year-round. “[Add] screens in the window for fresh air and cross ventilation, multiple throws for when the breeze gets cool, or a ceiling fan for when the breeze gets warm,” says Michael Cox, founder of New York-based design firm Foley&Cox. The perfect finishing touch? Some plush furniture that you’ll want to utilize for hours on end. “Soft, fluffy pillows that prop elbows, soften corners, and improve sitting depth for the vertically challenged,” he adds. “Remember, this is one of the most ‘outside-in’ rooms of the home so sit back, breathe deep and reconnect with friends, Mother Nature, and your inner thoughts.”