Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine! Designing a solarium for your home

A sun-room, or a patio or a sun porch...however you address the room by, the purpose of the room is just the same, exposure to sunlight. In formal terms, people refer to it as 'solarium'. A solarium is a room with large glass windows or walls to let sunshine into the space. Whether it is a small glassed-in porch or an over-the-top conservatory, a solarium helps expand the living space in a house by bringing the outdoors inside. Offering all the advantages of being outside without any of the drawbacks, a solarium may also act as a greenhouse where people can raise tender and exotic plants.

The principal purpose of a solarium is to give a house out of the house, a place to enjoy the light, sunshine and views of the outdoors without having to contend with any discomfort. In addition, since a solarium always has big windows, it serves to visually expand the interior of the house into the outside, giving the occupants the illusion of much more space than the house actually includes.  A solarium serves as a home to plants that might not survive out in the open. One of the great pleasures of having a solarium is one's ability to cultivate flowering or green plants in it year-round. Such solariums usually have hard floors, such as tile or stone, that are impervious to the water that inevitably drains out of plant pots.

Solariums have a large amount of glass, which allows the sun to penetrate the room. People may include a solarium in their plans when they build a house, or they may choose to add one on at a later point. An added solarium might range from a modular unit purchased from a manufacturer and simply assembled on-site, or a custom design that requires an architect's attention. Designing and building a solarium for your house needs a lot of skill, patience and access to manpower. You need to plan your design before taking the plunge. Everyone has a different reason for creating the room, so you will need to design it according to your intended vision. You may take help from a book of solarium plans at your local library.

The slanted-front type of room addition is the easiest to build. It’s always best to keep it simple. Keep in mind that you need to create the room in an area facing the sun, after all, the main purpose of the room is exposure to the sun. The main windows of your solarium are supposed to face the solar south. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the south that your compass will show. If this is impossible due to the orientation of your home, orient the solarium towards the sun at an angle of no more than 15 degrees. Stick on to the plan you've made up, follow all directions outlined in your plans. No matter what plans you choose, you will have better success if you extend an existing room in your home, or better yet, if you replace a screened in porch or a patio with your new solarium. If you choose to do the latter, begin by building a wooden frame along the perimeter of the concrete base of the patio or porch after removal of the screens. 

The windows should consist of larger glass panels instead of many smaller panes in order to better transmit light and heat. Insert the panels also according to the plans you have chosen. Maintain energy efficiency by adding brick and concrete to the interior of this room. Doing this will make it more heat absorbent. Remember that the quality of building materials also makes a difference. Once your solarium is done, you may add some plants, which would help make your solarium more energy efficient. So, you need to remember to maintain them well and welcome Mr. Sun into your new solarium!


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