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Dream Sunspace Design No. 3 | Purpose

Monday, July 5, 2021

part 3 of the design of the breakfast sunspace, the heart of my French Country inspired home, is all about the purpose and use of the dream sunspace. 

Part of the original design of the house, the sunspace has four main purposes
  1. Dining Area
  2. Light Source 
  3. Solar Heat 
  4. Gardening 
The purposes are intertwined and together illustrate a principle of good design. A space created for more than one function is wise use of resources, including natural resources of light and heat, not just monetary and square footage resources. 

The sunspace also illustrates useful, practical spaces can be beautiful spaces.

Dining  Area

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
The main function of the light-filled sunspace is for dining. An added bonus during meal time is enjoying the changing nature views all during the year. Blooming pear, redbud, and vitex trees visually swarm with birds, butterflies, and bees. Squirrels, foxes, and neighborhood cats and dogs wander through on their way to the surrounding woods. 

Bright, sparkling pale green leaves on trees emerge in early spring, then change to dark, dusty green in the dry rainless summer. Fall leaves can surprise us with seasonal yellows and golds before turning to rusty browns. By Christmas, the branches are bare and often glisten with ice during January and February ice storms. 

S u n s p a c e   D e s i g n 

N o.  3  |  P u r p o s e 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
Meals are easy to serve on the French Country antique table since the dining area is part of the kitchen. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
As part of the breakfast dining area, metal shelves store white dishes. Prior to storing dishes, the shelves were on the opposite side of the sunspace and were used as a plant stand. 

Light  Source

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
The sunspace floods the kitchen and nearby rooms with sunlight all year. The surrounding wall and roof windows provide light even on the darkest overcast days and on the shortest days of the year in winter.  

Light is critical for my mental well being. Since I have always lived in light-filled locations, Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Cyprus, I have never suffered from light-deprivation depression. But, my sister has. She lived in New England for several years and was diagnosed with depression caused from light deprivation. She had to lean six-foot daylight-bright fluorescent lamps in each corner of her family room to provide enough artificial sunlight to overcome depression each winter. 

I have always loved seeing rooms decorated in deep jewel-tone colors. The current trend for dark walls and cabinets is beautiful! But, I know I crave light-filled rooms and cannot live in dark spaces. When I remodeled my laundry room last year, I was tempted to paint the walls navy. Instead, I painted the walls white and added a small area of navy with the cabinets. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
Sometimes the light in the sunspace is filtered by misty rainy days, but most of the time so much light streams into the space, blinds on the vertical and roof windows are needed to control the light. A link to Part 2 of this series on the Dream Sunspace Design is at the end of the post. The post outlines how the interior space was designed and includes how light is controlled in the sunspace. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
Since sunlight streams throughout my house, I always choose upholstery fabric that will continue to look good when it fades. The faded dining chair shown sat in the sunspace for many years before being recovered with another floral pattern. The dining chairs were recovered because my cats shredded the fabric, not because the upholstery faded. 

Wall paint also fades from strong direct sunlight. Pale periwinkle blue paint covers almost every wall in my house. Since the paint started out pale, the faded sections are not noticeable to the casual observer. Paint looks different colors at different times of the day in every home even when the paint has not faded. Light and shadows cause the color to appear different shades, a natural camouflage for faded walls. 

Periodically, fresh paint restores the walls. By choosing pale wall colors, the paint does not have to be refreshed frequently. 

Solar  Heat


Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
The view from inside my bedroom looking into the sunspace shows light streaming far into the sunspace and adjoining kitchen on January 14. Part 1 and Part 2 design posts explain how the sunspace was positioned to capture the optimum amount of light during cold winter months, but less direct sunlight during hot summer months. 

North central Texas has an average of 234 sunny days during the year which makes the area a good location to consider solar heating. The sunspace provides passive solar heat from direct sunlight during the day and a small amount of stored heat during the beginning of the night. Tile flooring absorbs heat from the sun during the day and releases the heat during the night. Blinds are lowered after the sun goes down to help minimize heat loss through the windows. 

During the depths of winter, the kitchen is warmed by the sun which means the heat pump does not have to run as often. 


Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
The ultimate dream sunspace for me is a large conservatory with a primary function to nurture plants. There would be a large sink with antique French-style faucets, heating and cooling, ventilation, and a sturdy counter for messy repotting of plants. A few comfortable chairs or sofas would provide places to rest and to enjoy the beautiful indoor garden. And there would be a large fireplace to gather around on chilly days. Oh, to win the lottery, but that requires actually buying lottery tickets which I forget to do. 

The attached, multi-functional sunspace in my house is the best alternative for a gardening sunspace within my budget. At one end of the space is a short white bookcase with three shelves. Most of the time, the top shelf has living plants that bask in the abundant sunlight. The lower shelves are usually messy with an assortment of stored garden tools and flower pots. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
A favorite gardening task is to plant paperwhite bulbs for forcing into bloom for the Christmas season. The bulbs love the sunspace and do very well. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
Before the tall plate stand housing white dishes became a permanent fixture in the sunspace, a variety of plant stands stood at the opposite end of the sunspace. A small white wicker basket stand was a great place for Christmas poinsettias, ivy plants, and a trio of short living olive trees. 

Now the plate stand, with its white dishes, frequently holds one or two plants that are changed with the seasons. A vintage Shaker-made tall highchair/youth chair, repurposed into a plant stand, sits next to the tall plate stand. 

Dream Sunspace Design Purpose
This past February's prolonged deep freeze killed many outdoor shrubs in our area. Potted hydrangeas and a large ivy topiary survived inside in the sunspace. While the sunspace is not an ideal area for housing plants for long-term winter stays, the space saved my beloved hydrangeas this year. Normally the hydrangeas remain outside on the deck year round. 

The sunspace is the heart 

of my French-inspired country home. 

Not only does the dream sunspace fill practical needs in my home, the space also fills an innate need to make a difference with my life. Each life choice is weighed for how best to balance resources with needs and wants. By carefully locating the sunspace to capture light and solar heat, we use less electricity than we would with a sunspace in a different spot in my home. 

Purposeful living is a phrase popping up in current media reports, but the concept of choosing how to live has always existed. Repairing, reusing, and repurposing tools, furniture, fabric, wood... was a way of living for my parents and grandparents. And was a way of living for generations before them. May we continue the traditional way of living to conserve our resources and to live life mindfully. 


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Upcoming posts include more Bulletin Board Inspiration and details about the bathroom remodel. 

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