Everyone has encountered that special room at some point in their lives, whether it’s a home, a friend’s place or when visiting grandparents. That room where everything is always neat, clean and tidy, and the place where you feel that you can’t even breathe without being scolded. For some sunroom owners, their new indoor outdoor space becomes a treasure that is only fit for responsible people who won’t ruin the serene beauty of the new room.
However, in today’s society, more and more people are living in multi-generational homes, and even if the grandparents aren’t living with you, the chances are you’ve extended using a sunroom to provide your whole family with more space. Allowing everyone the opportunity to use the sunroom will mean that the pressure on the rest of the home is relieved, and nobody feels like they’re banned from part of the house. To make your sunroom into a family sunroom that everyone can enjoy, consider incorporating some of these ideas:
- Hidden toy storage – the bane of every young family’s existence is finding the balance between allowing the kids to keep toys and games out and tidying everything away to keep the house looking neat. The kids will naturally want to come and play in the family sunroom due the bright and open spaces, so finding a way to keep the toys under control will help everyone to use. A great example is a flat tray with small wheels that can be stored under a couch and rolled out when needed. Another is a dedicated ottoman that stores all the toys in whatever state they’re in.
- A variety of seating options – while it’s tempting to buy a matching couch and armchair, you’ll find that different ages will prefer different seating. Consider a big lazy boy style recliner for your older family members, a set of stick or foldable chairs for younger children and a couple of longer couches for family cuddle time. While the styles of chair may not match any overall theme that you have thought of, you can cover each in the same colour or fabric to create a little more unity and coherence to the design scheme.
- Two focus points – even though a typical sunroom covers less than twenty metres squared, you can encourage multiple uses of the room by having two focus points. The first will most likely be the patio doors out to the garden, as they’ll act like a living painting in your room. The second could be a fireplace on the other side of the room, or a small TV set. In either case, you need to set up the seating around each focal point, and you’ll end up with the feeling of two rooms in one, allowing everyone to use it in their own way.
You can also consider changing the use of your sunroom from a general entertaining space to a specific room usage that the entire family can enjoy. The following sunroom types allow multiple generations to use the sunroom to it’s fullest extent:
- Dining room – to create a fully functioning family room, you want to have the central purpose be something that is common to everyone. There’s nothing more common that food, and the natural light in your sunroom provides a fantastic eating space. Consider buying a dining table with a central extender; this will allow you to vary the number of people around the table as well as keeping the sides free for older and less flexible legs.
- Games room – another activity that brings both old and young together is a love of games. Whether it’s short games teaching number and word skills, card games that get taught through the generations or longer board games that last well beyond bedtime, games are what bring and keep people together. Your sunroom makes for a perfect gaming space, but you’ll need to add some final touches to truly dedicate the space to games. For example, you’ll want a solid wood table that looks a little old and worn; think oak or distressed pine. This will add a sense of drama to whatever game is unfolding on top of it. You will also want to invest in either open bookcases or glass fronted cabinets to store and display all the games in. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you light the room correctly. You’ll need to make sure that there is some sort of central light that hangs over the table, as well as uplighting near the game displays as the covers are often works of art in themselves.
- Workspace – a final full change for your sunroom is to convert it to a series of workspaces for the entire family to use. This can be essential if you work from home and have school aged students who have homework. Rather than have everyone squirrel away in their rooms to work, placing desks and shelves around the edges of your sunroom brings everyone together, and having your family around you will make the work go quicker together for everyone. It’s also a great way to monitor computer usage, as your young ones are unlikely to mess around on the internet when everyone can see their screen. Finally, you can connect everyone to one central printer/scanner in the room which will remove the need for one person to house it in their bedroom.
With any of these big changes, you will want to talk them through with your entire family before you start any furniture purchasing. You’re likely to get more support for rooms that everyone will use, and rooms where everyone has had an opportunity to have input. You, of course, get to decide how much input your family gets, and whether you choose to listen to the advice they give you!
Creating a true family sunroom also requires you to consult with the people who are going to want to use the room the most. You can use these conversations to also set up some ground rules and expectations; these won’t be that the room can never be used, but they should be about how it’s kept clean for the next user.