Light ideas

Sunrooms can be sophisticated and have four-season appeal.

By Marni Elyse Katz
February 7, 2010

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Don’t fight the light, says Beacon Hill interior designer Tricia McDonagh. Dark colors defeat the purpose of a sunroom.

Use materials and accessories that bring the outdoors in. For one sunroom, McDonagh chose some wicker furniture, natural linen upholstery, and 19th-century botanical paintings.

Since this room adjoins the living room and is used for entertaining, McDonagh went with slightly more formal furniture than is typical in a sunroom.

Make space for a dining table if you can, McDonagh says, and then use it: A candlelight dinner is especially magical in a snowstorm.

A fireplace establishes this sunroom as a second living room, says architect Michael Samra of Studio Troika in Malden.

Screened and glazed window panels are interchangeable according to the season.

Samra’s design flipped the roof to avoid blocking second-story bedroom windows, but there’s another bonus: Water collects in the V of the roof when it rains and drips onto a granite block, providing a wonderful sound.

This sunroom is used as a common area in a summer home shared by three sisters and their families; its octagonal shape reinforces the communal purpose, says architect Richard Renner, of Richard Renner Architects in Sherborn and Portland, Maine.

Extending the sunroom from a corner of the house means 180-degree views and gives anyone inside the feeling of being close to the landscape.

A compass laid in ceramic floor tiles helps orient visitors.

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to

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