Where do we begin? You may be surprised at our choice.

We decided to begin work on the solarium.

Crazy, right?

Bear with me for a minute. We’re going to be living in the house while we work on it, right? So we need a place to hang out and relax. Maybe even watch a little TV in our down time. Here’s a plan of the first floor with the solarium highlighted:

restoration floor plan with solarium highlighted

Floor plan with Solarium highlighted in blue.

The room had several challenges:

  1. It’s a cool space, but so… green. The green just isn’t working for us.
  2. There is no heat in the room (other than the fireplace).
  3. There were no light fixtures and few electric outlets.
  4. The flooring was some kind of early linoleum.

On the bright side:

  • This is our best bet for a TV room.
  • The windows wrap the room and the space is just plain cool.
  • The ceiling is bead board and the walls are cedar shingles. Great textures to work with.
  • The massive fireplace is a wonderful focal point.

The by Design team came out to look at our new project. Laura Beeler suggested that we consider painting the ceiling gray, rather than white like the walls.

solarium ceiling problem

What you see is the new paint “flashing”. Be careful to buy painter’s caulk!

This meant a few extra hours of work. We had to scrape out the paint and caulk, prime and start over. Kevin grumbled about Laura for months.

solarium - painting a straight line

Old outdoor porch ceilings were never sharp and level. You need to use some painter’s tricks to make them look that way.


The glazing on the solarium side of the french doors was gnarly: cracks and waves and chips.

Three sets of french doors lead into the solarium: one from the dining room and two from the living room. They needed some love.


Our new maple floor is finished in a neutral gray tone that should work well with whatever style or color stories we choose.


The Edinburgh sofa is covered in a textured-linen-y look and the two Sahara chairs are in an animal print. The media console is a natural metal finish.

And there it is. A new restful color story in a gray palette. There’s a comfy shag rug on the floor and when the roman shades are down they add a strong geometric design. But they’re usually up. This room is all about the windows and the trees they look out on.

This room style is very relaxed, very comfortable. Plus, I think you would find that the transition from slightly more formal living room to this casual space is effortless. It is important that you consider flow – aesthetic as well as physical – when creating your interior design plans.