One of the most common requests from our home remodeling clients is how to make their homes lighter and brighter. With unlimited images of beautifully bright homes across Pinterest, Houzz, interior design magazines, and other media platforms, it’s no wonder we look around our houses and wonder why they seem so dark and outdated.
With the addition of “sunspaces”, you can maximize the light/brightness of your home, elevate your mood, and help you and your family breeze through the winter days ahead!
What Are Sunspaces?
Sunspaces are any type of glass enclosure that admits sunlight in abundance, such as sunrooms, sun porches, solariums, and patio rooms. Sunspaces can also be created by leveraging bay windows, corner windows, walls of windows, and floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition to brightening up your home, these types of spaces can make smaller rooms seem larger.
Lack of Sunspaces in Existing Homes
Neighborhood houses are rarely planned with the sun in mind. Existing houses are usually built from stock plans and reused dozens or hundreds of times, regardless of lot-specific conditions. They’re situated simply to face the street. They ignore contours, views of nature, and importantly for this discussion, the track of the sun. Often a garage will block the best sun, while the common areas of the house (where occupants spend most of their waking hours) end up on the north side of the house, from whence the cold north wind of winter prevails, and the sun doesn’t shine.
The term “microclimate” is gaining recognition for outdoor spaces and can be applied to indoor spaces to describe the complex interplay of temperature, humidity, air movement, sight lines, and comfort. Outside, microclimate determines growing conditions. Inside, microclimate influences the occupant’s comfort, mood, productivity, etc.
Designing with the Sun in Mind
The benefits of sunshine are numerous and beyond the scope of this article. But even a little research will turn up, for instance, such vital benefits of the sun as vitamin D production and its contribution toward a good night’s sleep – and the endless benefits of sleeping well. And that’s just for starters… An experienced architect understands how to interpret their clients’ needs; how to harness the benefits of sunshine; and ultimately how to transform indoor gloom into bright, light-filled spaces that enhance the lives of those within.
High-quality sunroom additions (but not three-season rooms) bring the energy of nature into your home while keeping the ambient temperature comfortable, and inclement weather out. Well-designed sunrooms open your floor plan, take advantage of views, and flood your home with natural daylight, providing another space for relaxing or entertaining guests. If you’re a plant enthusiast, a sunroom is a perfect place for your plants to soak up the natural sunlight. Energy-efficient windows make full use of the sunlight while allowing an expansive view of the changing seasons in Northern Virginia.
Kitchen Sunspaces and Breakfast Nooks
Light-filled kitchens and breakfast nooks are some of the most popular sunspaces these days. But it’s easy (and tragic) to remodel a kitchen and not take advantage of natural light wherever possible, which is a real loss for the occupants, most of whom truly want bright cheery spaces to kick off their day. This can be achieved by adding windows to an existing space, creating a kitchen-sunroom combination, or a breakfast nook surrounded by corner windows. Bringing in natural daylight will help illuminate your whole kitchen.
Sunspaces can be integrated into almost any area of your home and used for multiple purposes. Many homeowners enjoy enveloping their lounging areas and offices in windows to allow natural daylight for reading, relaxing, or working as sunshine has been shown to have a positive effect on productivity.
Sun-filled multi-use rooms may also provide areas for special hobbies, exercise, or entertaining. When hosting an afternoon brunch, book club, or special gathering—a sunny space adds to the ambiance and makes your celebration even brighter!
Bay Windows and Window Seats
It’s surprising what a single element like a bay window with a window seat can do for an existing room. Sometimes it isn’t possible to add a whole sunroom, either for budget reasons or because of zoning restrictions. A bay window can provide more pop than almost any other single element. It often becomes the most sought-after space in a house, for adults, kids, and pets alike. Who wouldn’t want to create a window seat for Fido and Tigger? The benefits of a window seat under a bay window or a picture window cannot be overestimated.
Considering all of their uses and the benefits of increasing your health and happiness, you can see why so many homeowners invest in sunspaces when remodeling their homes. Whether you want to build a sunroom addition or simply pick up more sun as part of a kitchen remodel, addition, pop-top, or whole house remodel, you’ll want to work with an experienced architect and remodeling team to explore all of the opportunities sunspaces have to improve your home and life!