LET THE SUN SHINE IN
Solariums bring the outdoors in even when it’s cold outside
As the warmer days start to dwindle and winter looms larger, we tend to take advantage of whatever sun and milder days we have left to enjoy the outdoors. But by incorporating a solarium or sunroom into one’s home, it’s possible to at least feel like you’re outside, even when snow and frost makes it less inviting to actually set foot out the door.
In the past, these see-through additions came in cookie-cutter configurations where buyers chose from one of just a few models. But today, homeowners — even some condo owners — are creating their own custom-designed solariums that are seamlessly integrated into the existing structure and become go-to spaces for relaxing, dining, and more.
Solariums generally come in three- or four-season models, depending on the needs of the buyer; most people, however, opt for a four-season solarium for yearround enjoyment.
“A lot of things have changed — like: people today want design,” said Norm Lacombe, president of Arcon Solarium. “Most of our jobs are custom because clients request different slopes — sometimes as many as three or four. In the past they didn’t care about this as much, but today everyone wants something sharp.”
Roger Lavoie, president at Zytco Solariums, agreed.
“Customers want their own design with certain angles and shapes,” he said. “It takes a lot more effort to integrate today’s solariums into the house, which is a big change for us. We do really big, complex jobs.”
Over time, the colour of solariums has also changed.
“A few years ago, they were just white. But today, people want to have different colours because they’re tired of white, so we do a lot of dark colours like black and dark brown,” Lacombe said.
In addition to affording the homeowner more bright, sunny space, a solarium or sunroom can add to the long-term value of the house, Lavoie said. An extra area such as this can become a separate living space that offers its own unique experience.
“Clients want a different room from the rest of the house,” Lacombe said. “You’re outside, but inside.
“It’s a bit of a lounging space. Some use it for dining, and we’ve done some with endless pools, which is a big thing right now.”
These pools allow a person to swim laps without leaving the comfort of home.
“A lot of people want to do exercise all year-round and feel like they’re outside, so we’ve done quite a few solarium projects with indoor endless pools.”
And sunrooms aren’t just for houses; they can be incorporated into condos as well. Lacombe warned, however, that there’s more red tape involved in such undertakings.
“It’s something we can do but it’s not easy to install, so it really has to be done while the condo is being built,” he explained. “If it’s done after the construction, it’s more difficult because you need to obtain permission from the condo board and it can become very complicated.”