A hardworking, energetic couple came to us for help on finding a solution for their existing sunroom. They had purchased a waterfront vacation home on beautiful Atwood Lake. The property was gorgeous, but the house desperately needed some tender loving care. On the rear of the home overlooking the lake was a run-down “sunroom”. The existing sunroom was just some old patio doors probably from over 30 years ago. The doors were difficult to open and unsightly disrupting their beautiful view.
In addition, the existing foundation that the sunroom was built on was not sound. One wall was clearly not waterproofed correctly and there were signs of foundation damage. The original proposal would have to include a solution to correct the damaged foundation.
The family desired a large, open sunroom that would be multi functional. They wanted it to enhance their view of the water and enlarge the entertaining space of the house. The existing sunroom was 10’ by 26’; they wanted to increase the size considerably to gain more useable square footage. The new sunroom needed to be dramatic and become the focal point of the backyard. They wanted a room that would feel like you were outside, but protected from the elements. It was easy to envision the walls being entirely glass letting the structure encompass the landscape’s magnificent views. Inside the existing house, the ceiling height was around 7 ½’, so a sunroom with a high, open ceiling would allow for more light and a sense of space.
The project had some restraints. The easiest way to quickly increase the square footage of the sunroom area economically and structurally would be to simply extend the projection of the sunroom. The existing sunroom was 10’, so if the new sunroom projected 18’ or 20’ that might meet their requirement for a large, open sunroom. Unfortunately, the existing property was an irregular, odd shaped lot. Consequently, a new sunroom could only project four feet past the existing structure due to the rear setback line proximity. We had to get creative and design a solution that would conform to the property restrictions as well as meet the clients’ wishes and dreams.
We needed to create a space that was functional and aesthetically appealing. It needed to maximize their panoramic views. We determined that the existing sunroom would have to come down entirely and the bowed foundation would need to be replaced. Many of the design concepts were abolished because they were not constructible onto the existing home or they would not meet all of the requests of the client. After multiple ideas and sketches, we came up with a very unique sunroom design that met or exceeded all of the clients’ criteria.
We decided to build as close to the property’s rear setback line as we could, extending the projection to 14’. To increase the square footage and useable space of the new sunroom, the width would go past the end of the house (not common in sunroom construction). Essentially, the design consisted of a large, open cathedral sunroom centered over the existing family room door combined with a single slope studio sunroom off to left side giving the sunroom two joined roofs. The design incorporated specific window sizes, angled walls, and offsets to enhance the aesthetics and provide the finest views of the lake and surrounding scenery.
To provide good traffic flow and function of space, doors were placed in strategic locations with furniture layout consideration. The existing family room exterior door was removed and opened to the sunroom to make the sunroom a true extension of the house. From the kitchen, an old window was removed and the space was opened to provide a kitchen pass through bar. This provided a lake view from the kitchen and a functional entertaining attraction.
The new design did require some special engineering and construction techniques to meet certain codes and the clients’ criteria. These techniques and applications included, but were not limited to, multiple ridge beams to take the snow and wind load, specific foundation construction methods to join the new foundation to the existing foundation, and careful demolition procedures to take down the existing sunroom and partial foundation.
The sunroom subsequently ended up being constructed on an insulated structural wood floor. The wood floor was built on the new block wall foundation that has additional storage below (basement and adjoining crawlspaces) the sunroom floor. A ceiling fan was added to help regulate temperature control and air circulation. Additional lighting was added via a ceiling light, track lighting and wall sconces. The views from the new sunroom are spectacular from any location in the room. The room exceeded our expectations and more importantly the customers’ expectations.