Even people who know they want a sunroom, even people who have dreamt of having a sunroom for years if not decades extending back into childhood, can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of interrelated choices. Where do you start? Sure, you can flip through magazines until your hand cramps, and some of this magazine perusal is worth doing, but what about when it comes time to start making actual decisions?
You should have at least some sense of your sunroom decorating scheme during the initial design and installation phases. The ideal sunroom walls and window design may depend on your future window treatment choices, for example. But whether you’re developing your sunroom décor from the ground up or you’re freshening up a long-standing sunroom structure, I like to boil sunroom decorating into four main categories both to help myself and to help my clients get our heads around the decision-making process.
- Window Treatments and Lighting
The central premise of most any sunroom is to let in as much natural light as possible. The feeling of being outdoors while still being inside, as we like to say. Yet, many of the sunrooms we built over the years still had traditional, opaque window coverings and artificial lighting—electrical sockets for lamps if not overhead lighting. The question you really need to ask yourself is: Do you want to be able to enjoy your sunroom during the evening and nighttime hours? If so, artificial lighting and some measure of privacy is likely a must. Bamboo blinds is one popular choice. Removable, stackable shutters is another one. Fabric curtains can also be used, but can be susceptible to fading over time when exposed to sunlight.
- Color Scheme
Here, too, at least a preliminary discussion should occur before the sunroom itself is installed. The window framing—wood, metal, black, white, colored—will influence the rest of your color scheme choices. Wood-heavy decor is a natural choice for indoor/outdoor settings, but it’s far from the only choice. Some people prefer a more sleek, modern design in their sunroom as a juxtaposition to all the natural beauty surrounding the sunroom. Even with a modern design, however, neutral colors are less popular. Light and bright colors tend to accentuate the natural light of the sunroom vibe.
The furniture will go a long ways toward determining whether your sunroom has a predominantly indoor or outdoor feel. Put another way, rattan and wicker furniture are certainly popular furniture choices for sunrooms, but the options are really wide open. Likewise, one of the big advantages of creating an indoor space with an outdoor feel is the ability to decorate with traditionally indoor furniture. Again, you can really go either way with it. Once you’ve picked out the major pieces of furniture for sitting, it’s usually too much trouble after that to find the perfect end tables, coffee tables, and other minor pieces. As with fabric curtains, be mindful of materials and colors that are susceptible to fading under prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
- Features and Accessories
With few, if any, wall hangings, the features and accessories may be more limited than other areas of the house. And those that you do choose for your sunroom are going to get emphasized. There are a few big possibilities including a fireplace and surround or a water feature. What I find to be the most polarizing issue, even among professional decorators, is the question of sunroom plants. One theory goes that indoor sunroom plants, especially when overdone, distract from all the botanicals outside the sunroom. Yet, in my experience, the same people who love sunrooms also tend to be the kind of people who say, “You can never have too many plants.”