An Epic Skylight, Barely There Windows, and More Sunroom Ideas to Get You Through January
Find your place in the sun.
Published Jan 20, 2024 1:00 AM
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If you were to ask someone what part of their home gets the best light and when, we’d bet they’d have an immediate answer for you. Natural light makes a space—and makes people happy (while the negative side effects of not getting enough sunlight are also well documented). Enter: the sunroom.
The word might evoke images of your grandmother’s screened-in patio fully decked out in wicker, but we’re here to expand your expectations. Technically speaking, a sunroom can be your living room, kitchen, or office nook—it’s simply your sunniest room, designed to be enjoyed from a morning coffee break to a sunset dinner party.
So whether you’re contemplating putting a glassed-in addition on the side of your home or looking to maximize the windows you already have, keep scrolling for 16 bright sunroom ideas. The colder months are sure to be easier, and the warmer months even more cheerful.
Splurge Where It Counts
For four years, Marcella DiLonardo and her husband saved for their Ontario home’s addition, a light-flooded studio where DiLonardo, a food photographer, blogger, and stylist, could capture her work. Ultimately, the black-framed Andersen E-Series windows and doors were one-third of the budget. “I didn’t want to ruin the whole room by not splurging,” says DiLonardo with no regrets.
Amp Up the Contrast
These storybook arched windows belong to L.A. artist Carly Jo Morgan, who left almost every detail of her 1920s Topanga Canyon home intact after moving in, dark wood paneling included. Combining the old with her new space-age decor challenges the idea that a sunroom has to look light and airy. Why not go sleek and moody instead? “I love the juxtaposition of past and future. I always try to make things that either conjure up the feeling of an ancient relic or a sci-fi badge,” says Morgan.
Reimagine a Reading Room
This sunlit space in shades of pale pink, yellow, and navy gives new meaning to a reading rainbow. L.A. designer Elspeth Benoit wanted to lighten up her “mid-century nautical” home, while keeping all the charm of the circa-1940 post-and-beam structure. The result: a living room with all the airiness of a ship at sea, thanks to a series of bifold and Dutch doors.
Double the Family Fun
When faced with an already sizable sunroom in a client’s three-bedroom home, New Jersey–based interior designer Hollie Velten-Lattrell carved out two harmonious zones. Following the inspiration of a floating treehouse, she designated the kids’ play area closest to the windows, then positioned the cozy sitting room down just a step. This way, the family can feel like they’re together even when they’re apart.
Level Up the Terrarium Vibe
French creative Julia Rouzaud and her husband struck real-estate gold with their home, located 20 minutes outside Paris. The previous owners doubled the size of the structure to 3,200 square feet with an addition that includes this steel-framed bay room that looks out on the garden. Adding a low-profile dining set (it’s all about that view!) and even more plants inside makes for truly immersive family meals.
DIY Your Way to an Industrial Look
Getting the look for less is ideal—especially when you’ve just purchased a 500-year-old, 21-room manor home in Somerset, England, like interior designer Sarah Southwell did. She opted to repaint the conservatory’s wood window frames black instead of replacing them with expensive steel, creating an industrial feel with just the right amount of contrast.
Bring On the Staycation
L.A. streetwear designer Beth Birkett painted her sunroom in Farrow & Ball’s ocean-inspired St. Giles Blue, carrying the color into the main living room area and beyond via the adjacent molding. Just out of sight, a tucked-away, fully stocked bar completes the sense of being “out-of-office” in room form.
Upgrade to Bifold Doors
Architect Ray Dinh built a circular beach house for his clients just outside Melbourne that’s essentially one giant sunroom, touting 360-degree views of St. Andrews Beach. Rooms are connected by way of outdoor patio space (hallways didn’t make the cut in the final design), and some of the external walls open up completely thanks to bifold doors that practically disappear.
Design for All Seasons
A sunroom could be the answer to warding off the winter blues, so cozy up your seating with extra blankets and sheepskins or even a crackling fire, as in this Nordic-inspired Wisconsin chalet by PKA Architects and Minneapolis-based Martha O’Hara Interiors. “Expansive windows have a big impact on our senses,” notes Krystal Kellerman, a senior designer at the firm.
Pair Sun With Symmetry
The perfect furniture placement is often about balance. Pittsburgh stylist Courtney Favini estimates she swapped the sofas between her sunroom and living area four times before settling on the current layout. Now the adjacent spaces mirror each other to create a calm, cohesive whole. (It helps that the exterior windows feature the same panels as the interior French doors.)
Choose Barely There Windows
At first glance, textile designer Heather Taylor’s Laurel Canyon sunroom could be mistaken for an outdoor covered patio—that’s how few and far between the window mullions are. Further blurring the inside-outside line: The living and dining rooms are connected by way of even more glass. For Taylor, a front-row seat to the lush yard was as much a selling point as the home’s open floor plan.
Carve Out a WFH Space
Sunroom ideas are usually centered around lounging, but when the sunniest space of your house is also the smallest, there’s an opportunity to put it to work. See: Melissa Colgan’s 712-square-foot Washington, D.C., apartment, where the interior designer brought in a slim-profile desk along with elements that nod to the office nook’s conservatory past, from bamboo blinds to plenty of potted plants.
A brick-walled sunroom can only mean one thing: an epic skylight. In this ’70s-era home, designed by David Flack of Melbourne’s Flack Studio, checkerboard tile in swimming pool hues and pale pink walls feel as fresh as the transparent ceiling overhead. “The family spends a lot of time out there reading and working, and the kids use it to play,” says Flack. “What I love is that they can have friends over in this space and it’s a completely different atmosphere for entertaining than anywhere else in the house.”
Double Down on the View
When designing his latest vacation rental in Montauk, New York, designer Robert McKinley did the sensible thing and expanded the window openings to stretch almost floor to ceiling. The change exposed the 1,500-square-foot beach bungalow to an abundance of natural light—plus sweeping ocean vistas. “The makeover was like telling someone to stand up straight and smile,” he says.
Turn It Into a Playroom
Josh Kay and Susana Simonpietri of design firm Chango & Co. went an unexpected route when assigning bedrooms in their family’s East Hampton saltbox home: They gave the largest, sunniest room to their daughter, Lola. “She’s going to end up having tons of friends for sleepovers when she’s older,” Simonpietri explains. For now, though, the space also functions as a place for post-bath-time dance parties against the perfect backdrop: a wall mural in poppy pastels by artist Tiffany Lusteg.
Skip the Window Treatments
If privacy isn’t a concern, consider skipping window treatments altogether to take full advantage of those rays. Shanty Wijaya, founder of Allprace, renovated this L.A. home with the goal of seamlessly connecting inside and out. “I wanted to bring people as close to nature as possible,” she explains. She squeezed a mini built-in reading nook in the corner for a true moment in the sun.