6 Sunroom Design Ideas That Make the Best of Indoor-Outdoor Living

If you’re lucky enough to have a sunroom or four-season porch as part of your home’s design, you’re lucky enough! But really—the delight of having a sunny bonus room is truly unparalleled. Far too many people squander these lovely spaces, though. Whether it’s using them for storage rather than another living space or not taking the time to decorate them and maximize the space, it’s a huge missed opportunity to not make the most of a sunroom.

At the same time, we know they can be tough to design. Since they generally have three walls full of large windows, you may have to approach your layout a bit more creatively—especially if it’s on the smaller side. And if you already have a main living space, and perhaps even an outdoor space, it can be challenging to know how to best make use of a sunroom.

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How do you design a sunroom?

There’s no one way to design a sunroom. It all comes down to how you want to use the space.  But there are a few design principles that can help you nail your sunroom design. Read on for some tips you can use in your sunroom design, no matter how you end up using the space.

Use Plenty of Natural Materials

Even though sunrooms and four-season porches are technically indoor spaces, with all the sunshine and potential for fresh airflow, they can sometimes feel more like an outdoor space. Because of that, we love the idea of playing up that outdoor vibe in your sunroom design by using plenty of natural materials. You can even use straight-up outdoor furniture! (This is especially a good idea if you have a three-season porch vs a true sunroom, which tends to only have screens. AKA your furniture is subject to inclement weather!) But even in a fully enclosed sunroom, there’s something fresh about rattan and wicker furniture in a sunroom, as well as wood furniture with a more rustic, weathered finish or pieces with caning.

Opt for Fade-Resistant Fabrics

Since sun porches get a lot of sunlight, that can also result in color fading in your upholstery. So, consider fade-resistant fabrics for sofas, chairs, and even pillows and rugs if any of them will sit in the direct sunlight.

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Bring in Houseplants as Decor

Sunrooms tend to have a greenhouse effect, trapping sunlight and keeping things nice and toasty. Because of this, they tend to be havens for houseplants. Greenhouses are all about helping plants thrive, after all! Since sunrooms also bridge indoor and outdoor spaces, plants are a natural way to decorate these sun-dappled spaces.

Worried about keeping your sunroom plants alive? Check out our plant care guide to pick out the right plants for your place.

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Don’t Forget About Layered Lighting

Sunrooms, in their very nature, let in a ton of sunlight. But it’s nice to have additional lighting in these spaces so that you can use it even when the sun goes down. Many sunrooms have a ceiling light, but it’s nice to incorporate other lighting options like floor and table lamps, string lights (which add a fun and casual outdoor feeling), and even candles. This allows you to layer your lighting and create the vibe you want in the space any time of day!

Large or small, we’re big believers in maximizing those sunrooms and celebrating that sunny bonus space in your home! So, we rounded up six sunroom design ideas to show you how you could potentially use your sunroom and inspire you to make the most of your space.

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1. Dining and Entertaining Space

Sunrooms can be a great space for entertaining and offer the feeling of dining outside (without the hazard of bugs). Creating an additional dining or entertaining space is especially great if you have a larger sunroom.

How to Get the Look

To bring this design to life, use a rug to designate the dining space. A durable indoor-outdoor rug, like a jute rug, is a great choice if you tend to leave your sunroom’s windows open during the summer. That way, it won’t matter if a little rain comes through! We also like the idea of selecting dining chairs that feature natural textures to give the feeling of outdoor dining space.

You can also set up a bar cart or console table as a place for serving beverages and storing outdoor plates, glasses, and pitchers. A nearby beverage tub for keeping drinks cold is another great addition to a space like this!

From there, hang up some string lights or light some candles for ambiance, throw the windows open to let in a fresh breeze, and enjoy an “outdoor” dinner with friends!

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2. Secondary Living Area

Use your sunroom as an extension of your indoor space by setting up a cozy living area! This is a perfect place to relax in the morning and gather as a family in the evenings, especially in the summer.

How to Get the Look

Since sunrooms are sometimes transitional spaces between your yard and the rest of your home, we love the idea of going with a slipcovered sofa, which is easy to clean if it gets dirty or wet. A rattan coffee table gives you a place to kick up your feet and a surface for playing board games. (And the round shape makes it easy to gather around!) A plush, woven indoor/outdoor rug helps anchor the seating area.

And don’t forget to add lighting so you can use this space well into the evening! Table lamps next to the sofa are great for reading and playing games, while string lights offer a nice ambiance for a casual gathering.

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3. Seating Nook

If you have a smaller sunroom, you may only have room for smaller pieces of furniture. If that’s the case, we love the idea of setting up a seating nook. In a space like this, you can kick back on your own, or have a friend over for coffee or drinks and conversation.

How to Get the Look

It’s probably obvious that a seating nook requires a place to sit! So, pick out a matching pair of accent chairs. Place them at a conversational angle, with a side table in between and a pouf to use as a footrest. (In a pinch, it can also be used as an extra seat!) If your sunroom is deep enough, you could add a bench along the opposite wall for more seating—or a seating area like this could even be part of a larger living area if you have a larger sunroom!

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4. Home Office

Using your sunroom as a home office is a great way to get the feeling of working outside, without being exposed to the elements. Plus, it allows you to enjoy the natural light and the views! This is probably best for those who live in temperate climates though, as sunrooms can get quite hot or cold in states with more extreme weather and seasons!

How to Get the Look

Like any home office, you need the basics of a desk and chair. But you can also lean into the indoor-outdoor vibe of a sunroom and bring in some earthy, natural decorative elements to bring the space to life. (A hide rug feels like the perfect choice for a sunroom office!) And though you’ll have plenty of natural light shining into your home office, it’s worth having a desk lamp for task lighting, especially on cloudy days!

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5. Reading Nook

Use a corner of your sunroom to create a cozy reading nook! This is an especially great idea if you have kids. A sunroom design like this uses soft materials, and with everything low to the ground, it’s accessible too!

How to Get the Look

Any cozy accent chair will work in a sunroom reading nook—but we love the idea of using a hanging egg chair! The woven frame has outdoor porch vibes and is also a really fun place for kids to curl up with a book! Layering in a plush rug, floor pillows, and poufs, and a low bookcase will make this reading nook both cozy and functional. (Opting for a low bookcase vs a tall one ensures the shelves aren’t blocking the sunroom windows!)

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6. Lounge Space

Do you have cat-like tendencies and love to curl up in a patch of sunlight and take a nap? Then design your sunroom with the capabilities for some serious lounging! This is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.

How to Get the Look

A daybed is the perfect piece of furniture to use if you want to set up a sunroom lounge. It can be used as a sofa when you have company—but it’s also an ideal place to stretch out and take a nap. We recommend loading up on pillows and keeping a throw blanket handy so it’s extra cozy! (Alternatively, if the walls allow it, you could hang up a hammock!) Place a side table nearby to give you a surface to set a glass of water, and consider hanging drapery if you want filtered light or to block out the light completely.

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Everything You Need to Know About Indoor-Outdoor Rugs

Rugs are the perfect way to pull together a space—grounding a room while adding some color, pattern, or texture to the area. And this is just as true for an outdoor space as inside your home. You might not immediately think of putting a rug out on your patio—but it can really anchor a seating area and add a sense of coziness to the space.

But you don’t just want to use any old rug in an outdoor space. That’s why outdoor rugs exist. These affordable, stylish, and durable rugs are made to survive the outdoor elements while adding some softness underfoot.

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What are indoor-outdoor rugs?

Indoor-outdoor rugs are area rugs that are designed for use outdoors—whether that’s on a patio, a balcony, a pool deck, or in an outdoor living or dining area. These rugs are more durable than the average rug and are built to withstand the elements. Many are mold and mildew-resistant so you don’t have to worry about them getting soaked in a thunderstorm.

What materials are they made of?

A majority of indoor-outdoor rugs are made of synthetic materials like polyester and polypropylene. These materials are very durable and stain-resistant, and they also come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. And many polypropylene rugs are also UV resistant, so their colors don’t fade in the sunlight.

Natural fiber rugs can be used as indoor-outdoor rugs as well. Jute, seagrass, and sisal are great choices for an open-air space, and they add lovely texture to any seating area. Like the synthetic materials listed above, these natural fiber rugs are super durable, with the added bonus that they’re made from sustainable (and sometimes even organic) materials. However, be aware that jute and sisal, specifically, should only be used in a covered porch or patio, since these materials are susceptible to mold and mildew and can be damaged by exposure to too much moisture. Seagrass, on the other hand, is water-resistant and non-absorbent, and can therefore handle the elements a bit better.

Can I use an outdoor rug inside?

Absolutely! (You may be surprised to find that a rug you already have at home is actually an indoor-outdoor rug!) While not all indoor rugs can be used outside, all outdoor rugs can be used indoors. However, you’ll typically want to use a rug pad with them indoors to add extra cushion underfoot, since most outdoor rugs are flatweaves.

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What are indoor-outdoor rugs best for?

There are actually so many uses for these versatile rugs. As we mentioned, indoor-outdoor rugs can be used both inside and outside in many different areas. Wondering how to choose a rug for your home, whether inside or in an outdoor space? Here are a few scenarios where indoor-outdoor rugs are the perfect choice.

Homes With Kids and Pets

Indoor-outdoor rugs are great for homes with kids and pets (or clumsy adults) since they’re low maintenance and easy to clean. Juice (or red wine) spill? No problem. Spaghetti sauce accident? Just wipe it right off with some soap and a damp cloth.

Consider using these for dining room rugs, or in a playroom or kids room, where they can act as a safeguard against spills and food crumbs. Just make sure you pick an option that is soft enough for your kiddos to crawl around and play on. And if you have pets in the home, those paws and claws won’t be a problem with one of these rugs.

Easy Cleaning

When you have a house full of kids or pets, you often have to do a bit more than spot cleaning. To give your indoor-outdoor rug a more thorough clean, simply take it outside and hose it down with some mild soap and scrub it out with a brush. Most are made of synthetic fibers, so it’s virtually impossible to ruin the rug with too much washing or scrubbing. You can also simply shake them out or give them a quick vacuum (minus the beater brush). Some can even be thrown in the laundry machine! Just be sure to look at the tag before trying this option.

High-Traffic Areas

Indoor-outdoor rugs are very durable and made of materials that can handle high-traffic areas. So, they’re perfect for use in the busiest areas of the home, like the entry or the family room. The materials they’re made of also resist moisture, stains, and fading which only adds to their durability.

Our favorite ways to use them? Lay down one or two indoor-outdoor runners in your kitchen, hallway, or bathroom—just make sure you keep them in place with rug pads!

Damp Areas

Since most indoor-outdoor rugs are mold, mildew, and moisture resistant, this is a great type of rug to use in areas of your home that can get damp. We’re talking basements, laundry rooms, and bathrooms, especially!

The Budget-Conscious

We all know that stylish, made-to-last rugs are expensive. However, indoor-outdoor rugs happen to have a much wider range of affordable options. And the price range is usually based on the size of the rug rather than the weave or design.

Plus, they often look just as great as indoor rugs, so you can get a high-end look for way less. It’s actually surprising to see all the different stylish options for indoor-outdoor rugs on the market. There are endless options for you to choose from! Whether it’s a colorful traditional pattern, a super neutral and minimal design, or a bold geometric graphic piece, you’re bound to find one that suits your taste.

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Tips for caring for your indoor outdoor rug

While indoor-outdoor rugs are extremely low-maintenance, they do need a little TLC to keep them in tip-top shape. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Clean up spills immediately. As with any rug or upholstery, you don’t want to leave a spill sitting on a rug. Though many indoor-outdoor rugs are stain-resistant and easy to clean, if a liquid sits on it for too long it can create a mark or stain.

Clean regularly. Whether you’re using one of these babies inside or outside, you’ll want to vacuum or shake them out from time to time to keep dirt from building up in the fibers, which can shorten the life of these rugs. Leaf blowers are also great for cleaning up dirt and debris when used outside!

Use a rug pad. Placing a rug pad underneath an indoor-outdoor rug will not only add a bit more cushion underfoot, but will also keep the weave looking nice and help with air circulation under the rug. If you decide to place a rug pad under a rug outside, consider one with a moisture barrier or one that’s specifically designed for use outside, since regular rug pads aren’t mold- or mildew-resistant like your indoor-outdoor rug!

If they get wet, hang them up to dry. While they can handle the rain, they’ll feel better underfoot if they get to dry out. No one wants to walk on a soggy rug, after all! Drape them over your patio furniture for quick drying.

Store them at the end of the season. If you live in an area with cold weather, you’ll want to make sure to roll up and store your outdoor rug before winter hits. Just make sure to give it a good cleaning before rolling it up and storing it!

Stylist Picks

Think an indoor-outdoor rug might be the right choice for your home? Check out our picks of the best indoor-outdoor rugs for 2021. Here are our favorites.


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