Sunrooms receive plenty of natural light during the day. In fact, sometimes too much, depending on their location. The intense light can make reading, watching television, or working on a laptop very difficult. Adding window tinting reduces the intensity of the light and glare, while at the same time maintaining an outside view and allowing the sunshine in. You can do this yourself, or hire a professional to do the tinting. Preventing glare is something to consider when first building a sunroom, as that is the ideal time to have tinted windows installed.
Other window treatments include various types of blinds, shades, and curtains. Certain shades block out harmful UV rays and reduce glare, but still allow you to see outside. With window coverings that fully block the windows, you can just close one window section at a time as the sun progresses, and still enjoy the sunshine and a view.
Not all days are sunny, however, and during those cloudy, rainy, and other bad weather days you’ll need some alternative light sources. Furthermore, unless you have a southern exposure, your sunroom won’t have full sunlight throughout the day either.
Designing a lighting plan for your sunroom will focus mainly on the nighttime hours, but this should also take care of any daytime needs. The first thing you need to do is determine how much light the room requires.
There’s a formula to determine the lumens (brightness – newer bulbs have this marked on the label) for a room:
Measure the room’s length and width, and multiply the two to get the square footage.
Multiple the square footage by 40 to get the lumens.
For example: your room measures 15 feet by 10 feet. Multiply 15 x 10 to get 150 square feet. Then multiply 150 x 40 to get 6,000 lumens. In this scenario, you would then look for light bulbs or light fixtures that produce a total of 6,000 lumens for the room. Of course, you can always increase or lower the lumens to suit the room’s purpose. You may only want low-lighting for your sunroom at night.
Part of a well-designed lighting plan must take into account not only the purpose of the sunroom, but also the style of the surroundings. An ideal lighting plan includes three basic types of lighting:
Ambient lighting provides general, overall illumination, and is the most basic of the three types. It provides a comfortable level of brightness without glare. All other layers of lighting are added to this.
Task lighting adds brightness to areas where specific activities are performed (e.g. reading, playing games). It should be free of glare and shadows.
Accent lighting is typically used to highlight certain objects or architectural features, such as houseplants, or paintings, but it can also be used to create mood. It should always be about three times the general illumination level, and never be the focal point. Accent lighting is meant to work without being seen.
Begin with ambient lighting in your sunroom for overall illumination. Often this type is turned on with a switch when you enter the room. A single, overhead fixture may be all that’s needed, depending on the size and use of your sunroom. It won’t cause much glare from the windows, yet provides enough light for eating and conversation.
A flush-mounted ceiling fan with an attached light fixture is a good choice for a sunroom — it can light the room and also provide air circulation. There are many styles to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that will match your decor.
If a ceiling fan is not to your taste, there are pendant lights, wall sconces, decorative chandeliers, dome style fixtures, and recessed ceiling lights to consider for ambient lighting.
Adding dimmer switches to your light fixtures will help you control the brightness levels and reflected glare from windows at night. And if you’ve turned on lights during the day, you can keep them at a lower setting until the sun starts to set.
You can now build on your ambient lighting by adding task lighting to areas of the sunroom that need more concentrated light, such as places for writing, reading, playing games, and sewing. Table lamps placed on end tables beside chairs or sofas, or swing-arm floor lamps set behind the furniture, are good choices. Floor lamps don’t take up much space, and three-way bulbs allow you to adjust the lighting level. Both table and floor lamps are easy to move as well if you decide to rearrange your furniture.
Pendant and adjustable track lights work well above a game or dining table. With track lighting you can adjust the direction of individual lights, pointing them to different areas.
For any artwork or photographs in your sunroom, consider mounting picture lights on the frames or wall above them. The closeness of the light source will create a sense of intimacy with the painting or photo, and invite people to take a closer look. You can also place a portable spot light on the floor or table to direct light upward to illuminate the artwork. This can be done to accent potted plants as well. Don’t create glare by pointing the light toward the windows.
To create a warm, cozy atmosphere with accent lighting, place candles around the room. Floating and flameless candles are good options if you don’t want to be constantly guarding against hot wax spilling onto a table, or people knocking the candles over. Decorative lantern candleholders, ranging from rustic to elegant, are perfect for displaying LED candles on a coffee table. A hurricane lantern or two placed around a sunroom will also provide soft lighting to create a relaxing mood.
An electric fireplace not only helps to keep a sunroom warm during the cooler seasons, but it also provides the ambiance of a traditional fireplace. The warm glow creates a calm, comforting tone to the room that encourages conversation and relaxation.
Call Sunshine Sunrooms at (972) 243-5390 for all your sunroom design, construction, and repair needs. Click here to request a quote.