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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Need help with ideas for sunroom refurnishing

SusanDecember 26, 2012
Time to get rid of the crumbling wicker hand-me-down furniture and the dog's chair (don't worry, he has another)! This is a four season sunroom that does not get enough use because of the current furniture. Because of the central locations of the sliding door to the backyard and the doorway to the room from the dining room, the main area of the room is a walkway. This has made arranging our furniture a challenge.

The piano will stay put and that big brown cabinet monstrosity is built-in, so we need to work around that, too. I am done with wicker/rattan furniture and would like more inviting, comfortable furniture (that is not too heavy), so it gets more use. It really is a nice room. Our house was built in 1935, so is more traditional; this room was added on in the 1980's.

My thoughts are a love seat along the left wall; an armchair straight ahead; an ottoman; and a small breakfast table with 2 chairs where the 'dog chair' is now. Your advice is welcome!!!
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I think it depends what the use of the room is. I don't see a tv, so is this a music room, do you eat in here often, play games, etc.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Let us know how you'd love to use the room and we can be more helpful.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Thanks for your comments! We haven't used the room for much recently. I envision it as an alternative to the family room that has the tv--more of a quiet room for reading, maybe eating, listening to music or playing games. Maybe the kids would do their homework there? The piano gets some use, but since this room is so often ignored, it doesn't get as much use as it should, either. The room has really has a nice feel, especially in the summer with all of the windows open and the ceiling fan on, and I would like to spend more time here, but, as is, it is not a go-to space.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:31PM
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I think a love seat, a chair with an ottoman, side table, lighting and a bistro table with chairs would make this a really usable room.

A bistro table like one of these would work for light meals and homework:
Gladstone Kitchen & Keeping Room Remodel · More Info
Wonder View · More Info
Basement Retreat · More Info
Black & White · More Info
and, even this shorter one,
pebblecreek custom furniture · More Info
. I like the taller ones.

Since the heating unit is on the side with the built-in, I'd put the table over on that side.

I would paint the room a neutral color and the ceiling a light sky blue. I'd put matchstick blinds on the windows, so they are not dark holes at night.

Is there carpet over carpet? I would change that.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Perhaps a rectangular wood table and chairs near the wood cabinet. On the other side a loveseat and two chairs with an ottoman, with an area rug under the seating area. You might consider a green for the wall color.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:53PM
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I would love this space to paint in! I think I might try a small round table where your wicker furniture is now. I would have four cushioned chairs that swivel and roll. Then I would put the love seat or glider where the dogs chair is. If there is enough room next to the piano I would put a chaise lounge or chair with an ottoman. If not enough room ...there might be room at an angle in front of the right corner window. I would check out lawn and garden furniture. Some of it is very nice, easy to move around, and the fabric would be protected from the sunlight. You could get some in a neutral color such as khaki and change the look between seasons with pillows and throws. I could envision coral, yellow and green in warmer months and just the coral and yellow in the fall and the green in the winter. The windows are nice but that is a lot of black space at night. I would think about treating them as one big window and have something easily pulled across them at night that could be pulled to the side during the day.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:14PM
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I prefer cool colors in a sunroom - light blue or light-medium green. Because you have the wood trim, I agree with @emzc in that a green would look nice. Perhaps you could add a round table with chairs where the wicker furniture currently resides. Then add a comfortable apartment sized couch along the other wall. Or if a table would be too much, add two chairs and a sofa. A coffee table could be used for game nights. Does the built-in open as bookshelves?

Cortese Sunroom 2 · More Info

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Thanks for all of your comments! Great ideas!!

The carpet (berber--ick) is falling apart, that's why the large area rug over the carpet. Flooring is on our list for replacement in this room.

The big cabinet opens to ugly, deep shelves, so keeping the doors on and closed is best. :-)

I like the ideas for window treatments that several of you recommended. I guess I never even noticed the big, black 'holes' until you mentioned them. Window treatments are now on the list.

After the first of the year, I am going to focus on this project in earnest, so will post photos and more questions as we make changes. I really appreciate the photos you all have shared--it really helps me envision what the room can become.

One more question--when making a decision on how to move forward, where should I start? Should I find one piece (sofa, chair, table...) I love and work from that, or is it better to pick a style/color/theme and try to locate the pieces that fit into that? THANKS for your help!!
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 5:03PM
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I am no expert but I think it's more fun to pick out fabrics first. Maybe select three fabrics that coordinate. Your fabrics will inspire your paint color and furniture selections. Visit your favorite fabric store's website to start your search - see what you gravitate towards. This may be boring, but I think you should keep your larger pieces in neutrals - whether that be grays/navys/beiges/browns and use more fun fabrics for easy to replace items - pillows, small chairs, etc. It's so easy to change out pillows or seat coverings but rather expensive to reupholster pieces.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Color Zen
It does have nice potential! Paint will do wonders... This is my advice- find some inspirations photos. Rooms that you love style-wise. Coastal Living magazine comes to mind for this type of room. I think it should be light & bright. Once you have a general style goal, select a paint color, very neutral furniture. I would go with the least amount of (fabric finish) furniture that is substantial in size. Tie everything together with accents. Maybe a patterned rug to anchor seating. Good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 5:40PM
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You say the built-in must stay. It appears to be attached to the wall, not built into the wall. My first project would be to see if it can be removed. If it can, with minimal wall repair, that would be my starting point. If it is impossible to remove, would you consider painting it? If you don't need the storage, you might consider putting a false back in the upper part, so the shelves wouldn't be so deep, and use that for open shelves without the doors. Paint the inside a contrasting color and I think you might be happier with it. You could pick these colors from your fabrics. I would also consider painting the trim around the windows and the base boards.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 6:39PM
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I would get new windows,put in red curtains to match the pillows on the furniture,and I would also paint the sunroom red to match the pillows and the curtains:)
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Beautiful room with lots of potential!
I love your wooden windows! Im sure your views are splendid.

A few ideas:
1)New flooring (one type) will make the room look bigger.

2)Your beautiful piano and the back windows give the room a nice presence, I would look into removing the wall unit, it does not look built-in.I would maybe try to colour match the white window frames to the trim, that will make them look bigger and will make everything more cohesive.

3) yes, window treatments would soften the room tremendously.
I would use the same height for everything (several curtain rods all around, or do a valance on the side and nice floor length drapes on the back windows just in the two corners)

4)if you want seating and need a walkway in the middle, i would consider perhaps having a low banquette by the window with a rectangular table, even with a bench that you can push underneath. Other option is to put a good size round table in the very middle with chairs.you'll have to walk around, but it gives the room purpose.put some flowers on the table and you have a nice focal point from the other room into your sunroom.
Replace the built in with a regular bookcase and put two chaises by the side windows for relaxing reading and dreaming to piano music.

5)i like the yellow on your walls. I would perhaps paint the ceiling as well, that will give this beautiful room an even more cocoon-type effect.( but not sure the white ceiling fan will look attractive... )

Inspiration comes from everywhere...what feels good? What stores speak to you? What type clothing/fabric/colour do you wear?books from which era do you read? Which type of music do you like and play? This will all guide you in the right direction!
Trust yourself!
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Hi Susan, I love a sunroom! A few ideas:
1. I would definitely start with the syle/color/theme of the rest of your house.
2. When I envision a 1930's sunroom, I see
--simple, fairly traditional furniture
-- lots of windows, preferably multi-paned; or French doors, and French doors to the house interior--either wood, or painted;
--lots of trim on the doors and windows--the same trim on all or them;
-- warm floors--either wood or large area rug;
-- either lots of curtains--sheers for the summer, a warm print for the cooler months (helpful if you need temperature control) --or no curtains (your preference);
-- light colored walls and ceiling.
3. I agree with the posters above: if possible, remove the large brown wall-unit, and repair the wall; or paint it a light color--similar to walls or woodwork. 3rd option: could you redesign it into a desk/work space?
4. Once you've got these basics in place, you can make further decisions about the use of the room: with a piano and desk already there, a quiet reading/homework/games room sounds functional. And the large cabinet (or other shelving) could provide some storage for books, games, schoolwork. Do you need another eating area?
5. Finally, you can make your decisions about the furniture and fabrics that you like. I can envision a small grouping of a sofa/love seat with coffee table and small barrel club chair, in a fun pattern, on one side of the room; and a large cozy reading chair with ottoman on the opposite side, with side table and reading lamp. (see attached photos for some suggestions)
1 Like    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 1:36AM
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I think you've gotten some good ideas for decorating and furniture arrangement. But perhaps the reason the room isn't being used is because it doesn't fit into the pattern of your lifestyle for people to want to do something in a space that is so isolated from the rest of the common spaces in the house. If you aren't feeling a "need" to have this space for a specific purpose, I'm not sure redecorating will mean it will be used more once the novelty wears off. It looks like it opens into the dining room, which I am guessing is also not used very often. Too bad it isn't connected to the kitchen, so you could open it up more and make it part of the center of the house, and a space that people naturally gravitate toward. I think if you can define why you need this space and how it will make your family life better, it will become easier to figure out how to change it.

I think the side windows look a bit "off" compared with the beautiful door/window units at the end of the room. I think they would look better if trim was used to unify them and "beef" them up a bit. - i.e. the horizontal trim goes all the way across the three windows, and between each window use a wide vertical trim piece so that no wall shows between the windows. Use paint grade lumber and then paint the trim to either match the walls or the white window frames.

One suggestion if you do decide to put a small table in the room: one way to connect the inside with the outside is to be certain that your view includes the "ground". You can enhance the feeling of overlooking the garden beyond the side windows by using a small pub table with very comfortable pub chairs. It is amazing how that small increase in height changes the feeling of sitting at a table. If you have a stool elsewhere in your house, bring it into the room and mock it up.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 1:51AM
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What is a sunroom without plants? Presumably the windows create the light and temperature (cool at night( conditions that are ideal. Choose a practical flooring, install a sink. Illuminate them beautifully. It will function beautifully as a creative/utility space as well as a sanctuary for music, reading, eating. And keep studying the mystery of the room's lack of draw. Is it drafty or cold?
    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 3:54AM
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I think your plans for a loveseat (or full sofa if it will fit) against the left wall, and either two armchairs or one and a small breakfast table against the right wall, with an ottoman/coffee table combination will make the room much more inviting. The key is really comfy, pretty furniture that makes you want to use the room to relax. I agree with those calling for taking down the built in storage (and I would be tempted to move the piano to make for more seating, but I realize that you may not have another good spot for it). Just make sure the upholstered pieces you buy for the room are light colored and cheerful. If you like floral prints, the sunroom is one place where they can look natural (rather than fussy), though I would prefer light, casual slipcovered pieces for this room and a pretty area rug. You could even do slipcovered seating for your little breakfast table:
Laundry room with a view · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 5:27AM
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As is it's hard to tell whether you're going for an outdoor or indoor type theme. The wind-chime and wicker furniture give an outdoor feel, while the carpet and couch give an indoor feel. Once you decide a single theme, I think some paint and window dressing will go a long way. Beyond that, you may want to look at a new furniture design aesthetic.

It's hard to tell what would fit with the overall design of your house, but buying local is an interesting trend right now. It's often more cost effective, while at the same time supporting small businesses. A couple ideas I could see fitting are a Nordic inspired rocking chair (http://www.cutmodern.com/collections/living-1/products/austfonna-maple-rocking-chair) or a rolling bamboo TV caddy (http://www.cutmodern.com/collections/living-1/products/rolling-bamboo-caddy) or an outdoor inspired handmade end-table like this (http://www.cutmodern.com/collections/living-1/products/air-coffee-side-tables).
    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Neat ideas--thanks!
    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Blinds Direct Canada
I would recommend going with a Cellular Shade in this room I would also suggest going with a Top Down Bottom Up option so you can control the amount of light and privacy in the room.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:53AM
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