Research reveals that sunlight increases serotonin, a chemical in your body that makes you happy and keeps you in a good mood. During the winter months, the cold weather makes it difficult to spend as much time outdoors. Sunrooms provide an opportunity to bring the outdoors inside during these months. If you’re thinking about designing a sunroom – or you have one that you’re not using –  here are some tips for creating a sunroom that you’ll truly enjoy.

Decide on your objective

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Decide on objective

Scandinavian-style sunroom in Washington, DC. Image: Barnes Vanze Architects

Leigh Spicher, National Director of Design Studios for Ashton Woods, agrees that sunrooms can put you in a good mood. “Let’s just go ahead and call your sunroom your happy place, and natural light is perfect for so many different activities, from meditation to reading to planting,” she says. Or, it could be a place to listen to music or take naps. In any event, Spicher says you need to decide how you want to use the room before you choose the finishes like paint colors or flooring.

Apply these three principles

After deciding the sunroom’s objective, Spicher says says it’s important to apply these three basic design principles.

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balance

San Francisco sunroom. Image: Carrington Hill Designs

After deciding on the room’s objective, Spicher says says it’s important to apply these three basic design principles.

First, your sunroom needs balance, according to Spicher. “This doesn’t mean you need double windows on each side of the room, but the space should not have all the furnishings pushed to one side,” she explains. A fireplace can also add warmth when the temperature drops too low.

Second, Spicher says the sunroom also needs rhythm.  “Choose a finish, color or texture and repeat it through your room,” she says. “I love the use of a natural material like brick or hardwood in a sunroom; an interesting pattern like herringbone creates natural rhythm and a feel-good vibe in the room.”

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harmony

St. Louis sunroom. Image: Chouteau Building Group

The third element of a good sunroom is harmony, which Spicher explains as different elements working together. “I love to blend different natural elements, like wood and stone,” she explains. Spicher recommends filling the room with various different elements that make you feel good. “Create your sunroom as a personalized space for you,” she says.

Materials and finishes

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material

Nashville sunroom. Image: Connie Vernich Designs

According to Lori Wiles, founder of Lori Wiles Design, the sunroom is getting a lot of attention as a relaxed addition to a home. “We’re creating strong structural elements in natural finishes like stone walls, iron strapping and lights, and wood that extend the character of the house in a more casual application,” Wiles says. “It’s really a bridge between inside and out, with the comfort and security of inside and the freshness and relaxation of being outside.”

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is one option that Wiles recommends. “Realistic looking luxury vinyl plank flooring is allowing us to get a wood floor look without the installation problems of natural wood.” She says it’s also available in a variety of colors and can mimic different wood species.

Design for comfort

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comfortable

Radiant floor with bluestone pavers in Portland sunroom. Image: Whitten Architects

When furnishing your room, the right seating can make or break the space, according to Eric Gustafson, president of PureModern. “It’s best to find the right sized chairs for your space and try not to overdo it,” he says. “Sometimes simplicity is the way to go, a few comfortable chairs can add the perfect touch,” he adds.

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furnishings

Bronxville, NY sunroom. Image: Vincentsen-Blasi Architecture

Since the goal is to spend a lot of time in this room, Gustafson recommends choosing something that expresses your style and will create a retreat-like atmosphere. “The sky is the limit when choosing décor – you can go with a minimalistic look where you may only want to add a clock and some throw pillows, or you can get adventurous and add some wall art or a fireplace.”

Add greenery

Greenery can create a smooth transition from outside to inside, according to Gustafson. “Planters are a great way to accomplish this because you can choose many different styles to fit any look you are going for,” he says. “Not only do planters add greenery to your sunroom but they can also be a great piece of furniture to complement your decor.”

Consider lighting

Lighting is another element that you need to consider. “You should decide whether you want to go with ceiling/wall fixtures or lamps,” Gustafson says. “Each type of lighting can bring a different vibe to your sunroom, but luckily there are many different options to choose from and finding the right look to compliment your decor is pretty easy.”

You don’t have to unplug

Don’t forget to plan for using electronic devices. “To make the sunroom most appealing, we’re using weather friendly electronics like a TV in a low glare location that can be seen from several angles,” Wiles says. “Speakers are easy to locate almost anywhere and the remote controls can be out of sight in a cabinet or storage ottoman.”

Do you have additional tips for bringing more sunlight into your home? Let us know in the comments.