Let the Sun Shine In

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Home Elements/Decorating

Most mornings, you’ll find me sitting at the bistro table in my sunroom. I’ll be sipping my Keurig Dark Magic coffee, reading the newspaper, and watching my neighborhood begin the day. My cat Angie keeps me company, dozing on top of her cat tree. And best of all for this retired teacher, I’ll glance out a window, see a school bus go by in the distance, and remember just how sweet my life is.

I know that the veranda of the Abbey and Canterbury models is not considered a bonus room. That term is reserved for the optional, second-floor suite of the unattached homes. Yet my sunroom, as I usually call it, is a genuine bonus to me.

Here’s how I see it. A house has to have, at minimum, a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Most homes include a second bedroom and bath, if not more of both. But a sunroom is not a requirement. So it feels like a gift, a 200 square-foot luxury for me to customize however I want.

I believe the sunroom is the most versatile room in our homes. In terms of decorating, it works equally well with a formal feel or a casual one. It can be an extension of the living room, a den or office, a library, a TV room, or a combination of any of these. It could also be a porch, with blinds, a tile floor, wicker furniture, and plants. It can even make a great playroom for grandchildren.

My sunroom was the last room that I furnished. That is simply because I needed all of my furniture in my other rooms. Since I am one of the few people here who upsized rather than downsized, I literally had nothing left for the sunroom. For a couple of months, all I had out there was folding chairs, a few odds and ends that didn’t fit elsewhere, and Angie’s cat furniture.

By the time I was able to buy some new pieces for the sunroom, I had worked out my vision for it. My sunroom is a space for reading, for listening to music, for conversation with friends. Once I decided that, I knew how to furnish it. I also knew what I did not want. There is not a TV or a clock in the room.

On a sunny day, there is no brighter, more cheerful place in our homes. But what about dark winter days? I still spend a lot of time out there because the design of the sunroom takes cold weather into account. If you look up at the ceiling, you will see there are more heating vents than anywhere else in the house. And on really nasty Illinois winter days, I turn on my electric heater that is disguised as a mini wood-burning stove.

Yes, my sunroom is often filled with the laughter of friends. Two of my girlfriends nicknamed it “The Bistro” and gave me a bistro sign to make it official.

But my sunroom is just as appealing when I am home alone. Sometimes I’ll dock my iPhone on its speakers and crank up the ‘60s and ‘70s music of my youth. There’s nothing better than grooving to “Let the Sun Shine in” … while it actually does.

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