Over the years, homeowners have sought a balance of open space, natural sunlight and a fusion of indoor and outdoor living features. This has led to a rise in popularity of sunrooms.
Sunrooms allow homeowners to enjoy the outdoor landscape unconditionally, regardless of weather, temperature or time of day. They also can increase a home's value and are in many ways more cost-effective than building a traditional addition to a house.
You can opt for a simple, predesigned sunroom or hire a contractor to design a sunroom specifically for your house. Prefabricated sunroom additions start at about $10,000 and average between $15,000 and $35,000, while custom-built sunrooms usually range between $45,000 and $70,000.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry estimates that, in the Northeast, a sunroom will repay nearly 49 percent of its investment cost when the home is resold.
There are many options, from solariums or conservatories that feature an exposed glass roof and windows all around to a conventional cathedral roof with full-length windows. There also are many different material choices, both for the interior and exterior, depending on taste, budget and room function.
No matter what shape or form, a sunroom can bring a little life into a dreary winter.
Why add a four-season room?
Some homeowners shy away from sunrooms because they think they may be too cold in winter or too hot in summer. To take advantage of year-round use, especially on Long Island - where temperatures range from subfreezing to oppressively hot, - the best option might be the four-season sunroom, which can be used throughout the year because it is made from materials that keep out cold temperatures in winter and keep the room cooler in summer.
If a four-season sunroom is of high quality and designed correctly, the temperature should be manageable. During the planning stage, construction materials should be considered as well as proper ventilation. For example, in very warm climates, a sunroom with appropriate heat-resistant glass panels and shades can regulate the incoming rays of the sun. In cold climates, a sunroom should be positioned to take advantage of available sunlight and incorporate a suitable heating system.
Skylights can be added if your roof is solid and not all-glass, which will allow more light to enter the room. Ceiling fans can improve air circulation, while shades or blinds can retain heat in winter and control glare in summer (they also offer some privacy).
Bring the sunshine in
Before you dive in to begin construction on your sunroom, think about what exactly you will use the space for. It could be as simple as a family room or as extravagant as an entertaining arena or lavish pool enclosure. You can eat under the stars and create a glass dining area, or even sleep under the night sky with a bedroom bubble of your own.
Many people also use sunrooms for home offices, exercise rooms and greenhouses. The possibilities are endless, and Richard Harris and Jeanne Fontana, of Four Seasons Sunrooms in Holbrook, advocate creativity.
"Let your imagination go," says Harris. "There are many interesting concepts that can work for you."
Harris stresses the importance of tying in the sunroom to the rest of the house to make sure it flows and makes sense, in addition to choosing a style to match the architecture of the home.