A Room For All Seasons
We recently discussed some tips for updating your backyard living space as a way to get more out of your home during the nice months. But how about adding an “all-season” room to your home so it can feel like “summertime” year round despite rain, sleet or snow. You’ll stretch your home’s living space–and value–while avoiding cabin fever next winter!
An Affordable Way to Upgrade
Creating an all-season room can be as simple as enclosing an existing porch or patio, adding a sunroom enclosure, or creating an all-new sunroom custom-built for your tastes and lifestyle. If you’re working from an existing structure, you may not even need to excavate a new foundation. Plus, depending on the type of room, you may not need to install heating or plumbing systems or the same level of insulation as required for regular living spaces. This all adds up to a much more affordable way of upgrading your home.
North, South, East or West: Direction Matters
No matter what type of room you’re creating, the orientation of it on your property is a major consideration. For example, a south-facing room is ideal for optimizing the beauty of natural light and it’s great in the winter, but you’ll need to find solutions for keeping the space from becoming uncomfortable on hot, sunny summer days. For a more “finished” sunroom, this might require a cooling and ventilating solution more sophisticated than a ceiling fan. Energy-efficient windows, ductless heating and cooling systems, and certain building materials and construction techniques can all be combined to help even out temperatures and make all-season rooms comfortable year-round.
Ideas for “Season-Spanning” Spaces
A screened porch is a great three-season option. Add sliding glass doors along with the screens and you gain a fourth season. When you want to feel the breeze but not the bugs, open the doors but close the screens. If it’s too hot, too cold or it’s raining, close the doors and you are surrounded by your view but protected by glass. Windows such as NanaWall panels withstand high winds and seal out driving rain, sleet and snow, yet fold open to almost completely eliminate the wall between you and the outdoors.
When planning the porch, note that the wider the porch, the easier it will be to create inviting furniture groupings that bring friends and family together. Pay attention to the visual value of details such as the moldings, panels and pilasters. Add height and architectural interest with features such as a vaulted ceiling and exposed beams. Creative lighting is valuable for illuminating the space at night without an over-exposed “fish bowl” feeling. To add a porch without robbing interior rooms of light, consider adding skylights to the porch roof.
No longer just a slab of concrete, patios today are conceived as outdoor rooms with columns, half-walls, pergolas, as well as open spaces. These outdoor rooms can include a built-in barbecue, counters, sink, fridge and stove for stylish year-round entertaining. A dramatic fireplace or simple fire pit adds warmth – and the fun of making popcorn and toasting s’mores – even on wintry evenings. Hot tubs and spas also can be incorporated into the design of your outdoor room.
Sunrooms can range from very simple, casual spaces to elegantly appointed rooms with soaring windows and the finest finishes. To open the room to sunlight and views, the room should feature a minimum of structural elements. Walls and ceilings should be fully insulated, with insulated glass used for windows and doors. While natural sunlight will flood the room during the day, expert lighting design is essential for making the room enjoyable at night as well. “Wow” features for sunrooms can include large, arched windows, skylights, built-in planters, and even fountains and fish ponds that create the feeling of an indoor garden. Tile is a nice flooring choice for an “outside” feel, while carpet or wood create the cozier ambiance of a sitting room.
Adding a porch to your existing home, remodeling your patio into an outdoor room, or building a new sunroom are all ways you can expand your living space you to enjoy throughout the year. These types of remodeling projects can also enhance your home value – as long as they’re designed to complement the existing lines of the house and constructed to weather the outdoor elements while providing a great indoor environment, too.