Just a few cold days this winter already have me wishing for sunshine, a feeling I'm sure is shared by many Georgians. In my case, I just head for my favorite part of the house—the sunroom.
“In the South, sunrooms can easily be used year-round,” says Cheryl Draa of Cheryl Draa Interiors in Powder Springs.
Draa is currently working on one now for a client. “You can enjoy the beauty of
outdoors from the comfort of indoors.”
Our sunroom is used for our office space, in the sole corner that has enough solid wall for a desk and shelves, and for leisure activities in the rest of the room.
“Most folks around here are using their sunrooms and enclosed patios for leisure, or extra dining space,” according to Dave Cowart of DACO Enterprises. “It’s a great place to relax, and most are built to withstand the elements through four seasons. We put in outdoor fireplaces on a lot of them.”
Stacy Parker of Elite Door and Windows of Powder Springs concurs. “We put in vinyl windows and transoms on existing porches. And we can add insulation in the walls to existing porches, so you can feel like you’re outside, but you can have heat to keep you warm. A lot of folks like to enclose the space to keep out the pollen, too.”
You can get kits that can be added to your deck or patio without requiring structural changes. “I’ve seen a new product called Eze Breeze that has a vinyl material that you can install yourself,” Cowart adds. “You can slide them up and out when you just want screens in place.”
If you want a sunroom that’s an extension of your house, however, you’ll need to follow building codes, which means pulling in a licensed pro.
Parker recommends extending the home’s duct work and heating and cooling systems when your sunroom turns into an addition, and not just a sun porch.
Ours is more of a sun porch, at 17 by 17 square feet, but we treat it like an extra room and have a separate GE heating and cooling unit for it.
“There are so many scenarios when it comes to heating and cooling a sunroom or sunporch,” says Andy Swiderek of A & S Construction in Acworth. “You have a lot of factors to consider: Can your heating and cooling unit take the extra strain if you extend your ducting? Will a dedicated unit be more than you need for the space?”
It’s worth it to call in a pro.
There are smaller things you can do to prevent drafts when the weather is cool in your sunroom. “If you’re using the space for a small amount of time, you can use a space heater,” Draa suggests. “There’s a new product called Splattermat that’s used under grills that can work in that case. It creates a barrier between the heater and the floor to prevent a fire hazard.”
She also suggests something more basic. “We always put rugs on our sunroom floors to prevent feet from chilling.”
But for decorator Draa, the biggest challenge in a sunroom is privacy. "You have very few walls to block out the sun, but also very few walls to prevent those outside from looking in.”
Draa recommends using screens and shades for both privacy and sun control.
Our porch generally doesn’t get sun directly during the heat of the day, because it’s surrounded by evergreen trees and shrubs. In addition, the windows are tinted to prevent extreme heat or glare, and make it tougher to notice if we’re wearing pajamas while we’re lounging.
We don’t know who’s more relieved about that—us, or the neighbors.