Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Dream Sunspace Design No.2 | Interior

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Take a tour of the interior of my dream sunspace with details about location, windows, window coverings, flooring, and connection to a French Country inspired post-and-beam home. Read specifics you can use in the design of your own dream sunspace.

Dream sunspace interior design

This is part 2 of three articles about the design of the breakfast sunspace at the heart of my French Country style home. Previously, part 1 was about the design of the exterior of my dream sunspace. If you missed reading Part 1, there is a link at the end of the post. Part 3 will have beautiful photos and details of the purpose and use of the sunspace I dreamed about and planned for years before we built our post and beam house in the country. 


S U N S P A C E   D E S I G N  

No.  2   |   I N T E R I O R 

Photographs illustrate the interior construction, floor plan location, window details, and flooring. Taken from archives of photos over the years, you can see different chairs, upholstery, decorations, accent furniture, and time of year varies from photo to photo. 

Beneath each photo is the month of the year. Notice at different times of the year how far into the sunspace the sunlight streams. Some months there is very little direct sunlight and other months there is a great deal of direct sunlight that stretches beyond the breakfast table. The amount of sunlight at different times of the year is critical in determining the location of a sunspace. 

Interior Construction

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunspace Components

Two roof windows, two end trapezoidal windows, and four operable windows from Pella Windows form the 3'x14' sunspace. A Pella company representative created the sunspace from eight in-stock windows. The sunspace was installed during the original construction of my country home. 

All of the windows are wood with double-pane glass and exterior metal cladding. 

Connection to House

Wood 4"x4" posts connect the sunspace windows to the post and beam framework of the house. Unstained interior wood trim covers more wood used to connect the sunspace to the house's 8"x8" hemlock vertical posts and horizontal beam. 

None of the wood is stained. Only clear polyurethane sealer protects the wood. There was much discussion during the building of my house as to whether or not the posts, beams, and floor/ceiling deckings would be painted, stained, or left natural. My Long Tall Texan husband had strong opinions about wood remaining unstained and unpainted. Therefore, almost all of the wood in the house is natural. Over the years the wood has darkened and taken on an orange cast. 

Floor Plan Location 

Dream sunspace interior design
Look at the floor to see sunlight streams as far into the kitchen as the stove cooktop on the island. 

The Floor Plan location of a sunspace is best determined by which area of a house faces south. We spent many months researching how best to site a house and took into consideration solar heat, shade trees, and area wind flow patterns in the design. 

A sunspace can be attached to a living or dining area as a conservatory, to a bedroom as a sitting room, to a laundry room as a working greenhouse for plants, to an entry as a reception foyer, between two sections of a house as a hallway connector, or to a kitchen as a breakfast nook. Therefore, a southern exposure is usually possible for most sunspaces in all kinds of floor plans. 

My sunspace is attached to the kitchen as a breakfast area and is in the center of the width of the house. The section of the house to the right of the kitchen is the master bedroom and bath area. The section of the house to the left of the kitchen is the living and dining room area. 

The next few photos show how the sunspace location is related to the areas of the house around it. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunspace from Front Entry

This photo was taken near the front entry. When you enter the house you can see straight through to the sunspace and beyond into the back yard. 

Even if a house doesn't sit on an oceanside cliff or on a mountain top peak, line of sight through a house should be considered. The view of a natural wooded area outside my sunspace makes my heart happy all during the year. When guests arrive at my front door and step out of the foyer, they are greeted by the sunspace view in the distance. 

If you are building a new house or a new addition, look at your floor plans to see what line(s) of sight exist. You may be able to improve a line of sight by moving a wall left or right just a few inches or by adding a window, not necessarily a sunspace, at the end of a hallway. If the view outside the line of sight is not spectacular, plan to add a beautiful blooming tree, add a stone wall with a sculpture in front of it, or add a fountain. A beautiful view can be created in so many ways, but if the line of sight is missing, the view goes unappreciated. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunspace from Living Room

The floor plan is not completely open. A massive stone fireplace separates the kitchen from the living room creating a wall between the rooms. There are large 8' openings between the living/dining room and the kitchen/hall at either end of the stone fireplace. The sunspace is visible from the sofa in the living room. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Living Room from Sunspace

A little over half of the living room is visible from the breakfast table in the sunspace. The large opening between kitchen and living room is good for traffic flow when there is a large party such as book club or at holidays. 

The table and chairs can be moved closer to the south sunspace window wall for a larger walkway between the table and the kitchen island. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunspace from End of Fireplace Separating Living Room and Kitchen

A view from the living room into the kitchen sunspace shows there is at least 6'-7' between the breakfast table chair and the kitchen island even with the table pulled away from the sunspace windows. Without the sunspace, the kitchen island would have to be much shorter to allow room for a breakfast table.  

The sunspace allows a path between the living room and the master bedroom behind the door with the preserved boxwood wreath. Without the sunspace, the breakfast table and chairs would be in the direct path between kitchen and living room. Place your hand to cover the sunspace to see how the kitchen would look without it. The sunspace adds about only 3½' to the kitchen, but lives larger than that by placing the table and chairs out of the pathway. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunspace from Master Bedroom

The view from inside the master bedroom to the sunspace shows the sunspace adds a beautiful line of sight and light to the adjoining bedroom. While many of the sunspace's features were planned, this view from the master bedroom is an unexpected bonus. 

Locating the sunspace at the heart of the home allows beautiful views and lots of sunlight to flood nearby rooms. 


Dream sunspace interior design
An overcast misty day in the sunspace shows how the windows still add a lot of soft light to the house. 

Honeycomb Shade Paper Blinds

Light is one of the major reasons for having a sunspace, but solar heat and glare can provide too much heat and light even on some winter days. Metal blinds in the roof windows and accordion paper blinds on the windows were added to the sunspace to help control light and heat all during the year. 

In this photograph, the cellular honeycomb shade paper blinds on the windows are raised to allow maximum light into the sunroom and adjoining kitchen. When we first moved into the house, we did not have the paper blinds because the budget was too tight to include them. We added them within the first year. So, if blinds are not in your budget when you first build a sunspace, remember you can add them when your budget can cover their cost. 

The blinds are mounted inside each window from above except for the trapezoid end windows. The blinds in the trapezoid windows are mounted at each end. The blinds in the trapezoid windows are level with the floor instead of following the slope of the windows. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Valances Hide Raised Blinds

Short, gathered valances hide the raised blinds so well the blinds are frequently not noticed by others. My sister who has been to my house countless times, for weeks at a time, over many years, had never seen the blinds lowered until about ten years ago. She asked if they were new! 

This photo was taken during a time when the valances had been taken down for washing when we replaced the old kitchen floor with new tile.  The window shown on the far left does not have its freshly washed valance rehung. Notice the cord mechanism for raising/lowering the blinds for that window is corralled by a small brass hook for cups. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Blind Purposes

The purposes of the cellular honeycomb blinds are for privacy, controlling heat, and controlling light.  

Since I live in the countryside on a wooded lot, set 50' from the country road, privacy is not as much a concern for me as for urban and city dwellers surrounded by close neighbors. However, during the winter at night, the trees are bare and the sunspace is lighted making the inside of my house visible to passing cars. The shades offer wanted privacy. 

The most important reason for the blinds is to control heat. While the sunspace provides needed extra solar heat in the winter during the day, at night the sunspace loses heat. Lowering the blinds preserves heat and keeps the space warmer at night. The blinds have a honeycomb construction with airspace in the honeycombs that provides more insulation than just flat blinds. Surprisingly, the sunspace can also overheat during the day in winter months due to strong, direct sunlight. The blinds help prevent heat build-up on those super sunny winter days. 

In the summer, the sunspace is most vulnerable for overheating from the bright summer sunshine. Lowering the blinds helps block summer heat. Since there are six windows with blinds, there is considerable variation in which blinds to close and which blinds to keep open based on the sun's location and shade from nearby trees. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Take a second look at a previous photo to notice how the blinds control the amount of light in the sunspace. The two middle blinds are partially lowered to block light shining directly onto the French Country dining table. Look at the floor to see the light for a greater understanding of how the blinds help. 

Most of the time the blinds are fully open, but glare from the sun is often too bright to take good photographs. Whenever I shoot photos of table settings for the blog, I often adjust the blinds to soften the glare.  

Watch for sales from blind companies to get the best prices. Or, shop in-stock blinds at big home improvement stores.  

Dream sunspace interior design

Roof Window Metal Blinds

By far, the roof window metal blinds from Pella Windows are more important than the honeycomb paper blinds to control heat and light.  We installed them at the same time the sunspace was built. 

Large oak trees shade the sunspace in the summer, but the blinds provide uniform complete shade when needed. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Small manual hand cranks adjust the direction of the blind blades. The angle of the blades can be adjusted to allow some light to enter, but prevent direct sunlight shining into the eyes of people sitting around the breakfast table. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Sunlight is strong enough in the sunspace for plants to grow and to bloom. Notice the direct sunlight in May only comes in far enough to partially shine on the table, not deeper into the kitchen. 

Dream sunspace interior design

Operable Windows

An important feature of sunspace windows is being able to open them for air circulation. Open windows vent overheated air to the outside and bring cool air inside. 

The local wind flow patterns for my area are along north-south routes. Thus, we included a few windows on the north to allow a cross flow of air through the house. We open windows on the north and south a few inches for air to blow through the house. 

Pre-built sunspaces may not have operable windows on the sides to allow opening them for air circulation. Many pre-built sunspaces do include operable roof windows to vent built-up solar heat to escape. 

If you are building your own custom sunspace, be sure to install operable windows. 


Dream sunspace interior design

A waterproof floor must be used in a sunspace that will house plants for any amount of time. Since my sunspace is part of my house, not a space used solely for plants, the flooring must be easy to clean, must integrate with adjoining floorings, must fit the color scheme and style of my house, and withstand occasional spills and drips from watering plants. 

The current flooring is Rialto white porcelain tile with narrow Biscuit-colored grout. The tile and grout were in-stock selections from a large home improvement store. Buying in-stock materials means the price is lower than for similar custom-order materials. 

Dream sunspace interior design

I dreamed and planned, and dreamed some more, and planned some more, before we built our forever home that includes one of my most-wanted features, a sunspace. Years of planning the design of my sunspace resulted in a space I love. And the sunspace was built and styled within the budget of a school teacher and a translator. I research every item before buying so I can find the best items in my price range

I hope the details of the interior of my sunspace helps readers to think about what to include in their own sunspaces. Paying attention to details about location in the floor plan, windows, window coverings, and flooring will help create a sunspace perfect for you! 


A link to Part 1 about the exterior design details is below. Part 3, and final, post in this series is coming and will be about the sunspace purpose and uses.... why I love my sunspace!

S o u r c e s 

Sunspace - Pella Windows (no affiliation) 

Sunspace Roof Metal Blinds, Pella Windows

Honeycomb Shade Blinds - Levelor, many years ago

Antique French Table - local antique store, years ago

French Style Dining Chairs - Botanic Bleu, no longer available

Rialto White Porcelain Tile - Lowes, in stock tile a few years ago

Grout, Biscuit Color - Lowes

Pinterest Board Post and Beam Dream House