Here Comes the Sun…



SPACES-July 2007

Sunrooms that fill summer days with splashes of light

Man has long worshiped the warm, life-giving rays of the sun. Ancient Egypt had its solar deity Ra, Norse mythology its sun goddess Sol, and Greece sacrificed to the sun god Helius, who reigned over the daytime sky. Even today, many still celebrate the sun’s cycle with solstice celebrations. On a day-to-day basis, however, a sunroom is perhaps the perfect way to express your solar adoration.  In many ways, a sunroom is the home’s ultimate room for relaxing. Intimately connected to the outdoors, just a short amount of time in a quiet sunroom can make all of life’s worries melt away. The pleasure of soaking in those golden rays, especially during the frigid days of a Maine winter, can recharge the soul.

So grab that new novel you’ve been dying to read or turn on some music and curl up like a cat at midday—because here comes the sun.

When Linda Banks, founder of Banks Design Associates and owner of Falmouth’s Simply Home, designed this sunroom (above) for her own house, she knew from the start it should feel like a year-round space. “I consciously stayed away from wicker,” Banks says, “and worked to make it still feel summery all year.”

Banks anchored the room to nature with a deep, chocolate-brown floor and a bright white ceiling. An acid green rug in the room’s center calls to mind a grassy meadow. A two-tiered, rusted steel table from Paris is flanked by chairs covered in a twill Jardin print. The walls are painted a face-powder pink that changes, Banks says, with the day’s light and gives a comfortingly soft glow no matter the weather. Her final nod to the sun comes with the four celestial prints hung high above the room’s tall windows. It’s a sunroom that feels both elegant and inviting.


Tracy Davis, owner of the interior-design firm Urban Dwellings in Portland, first saw this Cape Elizabeth sunroom under renovation, and knew that decorating it would be a challenge. “The space is an unusual shape,” she says, “and the post smack in the middle was like having a wedge taken from the whole pie.”

Davis broke the sunroom down into more intimate spaces by clustering furniture together. “I used smaller, low furniture, too” she says, “so as not to obscure the view.” And with a canopy of trees and ocean just beyond the windows, what an unspoiled view it is. “There’s a real tranquility to this space,” Davis says.

While Davis wanted to use bright colors in the sunroom, she stayed away from pastels and other colors that wouldn’t “age” particularly well. She focused primarily on a palette of blues and greens. “With the trees, ocean, and sky around, we just tried to blend all three together,” Davis says.

spaces3.jpgThis sunroom in Standish came to fruition while Patricia Fortunato, the senior designer at Falmouth’s Simply Home, was working on a major renovation of the country house. “The homeowners really wanted something that felt like a solarium,” she says. The solution to that request came when Fortunato re-imagined the home’s hexagon-shaped screen porch. “We covered the exposed rafters with tongue-and-groove boards, put in the ceiling fan, and added the largest windows we could find.”

Fortunato used a slate floor throughout the room to connect it with the outdoors, and focused on subtle, earthy greens and browns. The body of the couch is covered with a wicker-like material that is actually polyester- based and “very family-friendly,” Fortunato says. All of the fabrics used in the room won’t fade from long exposure to direct sunlight or mildew from moisture.

This sunroom (not shown in web edition) on Kennebunkport’s Ocean Avenue was an underused open porch when the current owners purchased the house in the early 1990s. In the waning days of a tremendous renovation job on the large, 110-year-old Shingle Style cottage, adding the sunroom was a last-minute idea. “We realized the porch was wasting three seasons worth of marvelous views and sunshine,” says homeowner Cynthia Daley.

The large, Gothic-style openings along what used to be the porch were filled with custom-cut sheets of insulated glass. Now, guests lounging in the south-facing sunroom can enjoy views of the historic St. Ann’s Church by the Sea and the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean beyond. “It was the best decision we made in the whole renovation process,” Daley says.

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