A room with plenty of natural light and a connection to nature is a must for your wellbeing, and with the right small sunroom idea, you can find space in your home to take a moment out to re-center yourself.
From small but perfectly formed spaces to conversions and even ways to sneak a sunny spot into another room, there are plenty of sunroom ideas to consider, even if you don't have a dedicated sunroom in your home.
'You could even consider converting an existing space instead of building a whole new addition – for instance, converting a garage or screened-in porch,' suggests Connecticut-based interior designer Georgia Zikas.
We've collected 10 examples of small sunroom ideas to inspire you to create a space where you can unwind and bask in the sunlight.
Small sunroom ideas for new additions, layout inspiration and adapting your space
1. Create a sunny spot in a breezeway
If you don't have a dedicated space for a sunroom, it might be possible to find room for a sunny spot in one of your home's transitionary spaces – think hallway ideas, entryways and breezeways.
While a breezeway may not be a feature of every home, these provide a perfect spot for introducing seating and creating a space with a connection to the outdoors. 'A breezeway is a connecting space - but with some connection to the outside,' says Pittsburgh-based interior designer Colleen Simmonds. 'It's not an interior hallway, but a hallway/connecting passage that speaks to the outside somehow.'
In the design of her own home, this breezeway performs a variety of functions. From acting as the space where the family enter the home and store their gear to connecting the house and the renovated garage/ home office. However, it also provides a spot to enjoy the view of the outdoors, fronting onto the street.
2. Add a small glazed extension as a sunroom
When considering building a new small sunroom for your home, there are plenty of single-story extension ideas you could try. While the simplest and most affordable will undoubtedly be a basic built with plenty of windows integrated, for a modern take on the idea, you could consider a small glazed extension.
The choice of door and opening elements can have a big impact on the space, for smaller sunrooms a bifold door or sliding pocket door would be best suited so that in the warmer months they can be opened, leaving a clear aperture and allowing the internal and external spaces to be merged, something that this design by Can Architects takes into consideration.
'A glazed chamfered door slides into a concealed pocket leading onto a raised patio,' explains architect Matt Barnes. 'The project has transformed the way the clients use the house; providing them with a ground floor living space that is well connected to the garden come rain or shine.'
3. Build a small three season room
When building an additional structure, you might find sunroom costs start to spiral. However, for some states, a three-season room might be a sensible middle ground, especially when considering a small sunroom idea. This type of sunroom is fully covered, glazed, and still an indoor space, but isn't insulated so more at the mercy of outdoor temperatures.
A three-season room lives up to its name by being fully useable for the majority of the year, but you may find that it's too cold to use in winter, and potentially too hot in the middle of summer. It will be, however, a far cheaper addition to your home and still provide you with the sunroom experience.
4. Choose a glazed ceiling for more light throughout the day
Not all sunrooms have a glazed roof, but for single-story extensions, specifying a glass addition is a great way to increase the amount of sunlight your sunroom gets, and for a greater portion of the day.
'Structural glass roofs are a must when adding a sunroom to a home as this is the easiest way to maximize the flow of natural light,' says IQ Glass's Shannon Normoyle. 'For smaller sunrooms, a single pane can be used without the need for support.'
For a largely glazed structure, you may want to include window treatments in your plans, meaning that your sunroom can be used at different times of the day without necessarily being overlooked.
5. Create a glazed section in a living room
If you have a living room idea for a space you'd like to function more like a sunroom, then this addition of a glazed roof lantern to the edge of your room might offer the perfect solution.
Depending on the climate of where you live, you might have concerns that bringing in too much glazing will make your main living space too hot or too cold, but by choosing modern glazing, you can control these fluctuations far better.
'Sunrooms can take on many different forms but all have the same goal, to create a space where you can enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face whilst remaining at a comfortable temperature,' says Shannon Normoyle of IQ Glass. 'Traditional conservatories are prone to overheating in summer and being uncomfortable cold in winter, but by utilizing modern glazing systems this can easily be avoided.'
6. Make a small sunroom feel bigger by knocking down internal walls
Even with an expanse of glass offering a view outside, if your sunroom is diminutive in size, it may feel a little claustrophobic to spend too much time in. Why not follow the example of this home in south London, in which the owners removed partition walls in the hallway to create an open, occasional sitting space?
Colorful rattan-style furniture, a natural palette, and plenty of plants give this sunroom an outdoorsy feel, which helps create a connection with nature and gives it a peaceful, relaxing feel, despite being open to the rest of the house. What was once both a small hallway idea and a tiny room has become a large, welcoming sunroom that provides the perfect place to unwind.
7. Pick the right seating for a small sunroom
While in larger sunrooms, seating can be comfortably positioned away from the walls and facing out the window, small sunroom ideas may require you to be a bit more creative.
One of the most effective options for optimizing sitting spaces in a small sunroom is to use built-in seating around the windows. These window seat ideas are brilliantly versatile, as they can be used in both directions for sitting viewing out the window, and also facing into the space. However, they don't provide a viewpoint to outdoors that has a supported back, so it's worth complementing a built-in window seat with some more comfortable occasional chairs for times when you want to linger in your sunroom space.
8. Emphasize ceiling height
'Consider your ceiling height for a small sunroom,' says interior designer Georgia Zikas. 'If you can do a vaulted ceiling or raise the ceiling somehow, that could add a lot of great design impact as well as the illusion of a larger room.'
For existing spaces, consider ways to draw the eye up and visual tricks to make your sunroom feel taller. There are some clever ceiling decorating ideas that you can use for this, including painting it the same as the walls to soften the visual outline of the ceiling.
9. Use a small sunroom to make a more social kitchen
While the addition of a small sunroom might not give you lots of extra liveable space by itself, by combining it into a larger open plan room, you can transform how you use the space.
In this space created by XUL Architecture, for example, a small sunroom – large enough just for a comfortable L-shaped sofa – opens up onto this open plan kitchen idea, adding a whole new sociable aspect to the design and ensuring the kitchen is served with natural light all through the day.
10. Choose dramatic colors for a modern sunroom
'As with any space - don't be afraid of color,' says interior designer Colleen Simmonds. 'A sunroom can be any color you want and just as 'designed' as the rest of your house.'
This is particularly true of a small sunroom, where strong choices in color and pattern can make a big impact, while plenty of natural light will allow your palette to sing.
However, it's worth bearing in mind the practical side of a sunroom, a space that's exposed to plenty of natural light and can therefore be subject to UV damage. Light finishes, such as for floors, are often preferential, as they're far less prone to fading than those of a darker shade.
With the right UV treatments, protections and window treatments in place, however, darker choices can still be chosen for a more impact dark room idea.
How do you style a small sunroom?
Choosing the right sunroom furniture can make all the difference to a small space. Armchairs and accent chairs are useful for small sunrooms, and can be moved to follow the sun through the space throughout the day. A mixture of different seating - from a small sofa to stools - will make your design more versatile.
Style is also important to get right for a sunroom. 'Try to use materials that feel more organic since you are trying to bring the outdoors in,' suggests Georgia Zikas. Timber, rattan, jute and plants are all popular in a sunroom, borrowing style cues from your outdoor space for a room that acts as an in-between from the indoors and your yard.
'You should even consider buying outdoor grade furniture – it is more durable than your standard indoor furniture,' Georgia continues, something that's particularly worth considering in relation to faded and discoloration from the sun.
If you want a dining nook for your breakfast or morning coffee, a small two-seater table with two chairs is a perfect café-style set-up for a small sunroom.
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2022.
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