There were only a few rooms where I knew that we would need to shop for – that our furniture just wouldn’t work. This room is one of them, and boy am I glad that I waited to pull any triggers on the furniture until the tile went down last week. This room is the new addition that is going to be this dreamy victorian indoor/outdoor vibe that is super special. It’s definitely a different style/feeling from the rest of the house but it works because it’s separate enough and looks/feels like a conservatory addition (think a sunroom attached to the back of a brick house in England). We clad it in brick instead of wood siding to keep it feeling separate (but will paint it white). It’s just awesome. Functionally I’ll use it to work/write, gather, entertain, etc. Aesthetically, it’s the eccentric English grandma side of me who can get inspired here, write fun blog posts, then retire to her calm house to eat soup.
On Building the Sunroom (Aka My Writing Studio)
I dreamed it up and ARCIFORM drew it up, handed it off to an engineer to get approved, etc. And then we dug out to pour the foundation and built it up like a legit room. It took months and months, multiple subs during a very high demand time. It’s hard to know how much it will cost in total but definitely over 100k. Luckily, since we “work from home” this will be my “writing studio” we can at least write off a bit through the company. It’s not free money, but it helps.
The Biggest Changes – After The Design “Indecision”
Originally, it was supposed to have windows or french doors on all three and half walls, with the east wall being french doors onto the front porch. But then I realized that we literally had no wall space, like in this whole house, which is fine in a lot of ways (we opted for windows instead which we are so happy with) but that also means no storage furniture to even hold paper or office supplies. Whoops. We also really didn’t NEED access to the front porch. The front door was right there and we aren’t lacking entertaining areas in this house. So we decided to close up this wall instead, brick the outside like the rest of the sunroom and make it big enough so that I could have a credenza or a hutch. This way we could also create a sitting area on the front porch (with a sofa since it’s covered) whereas the french doors limited that.
During this time, the back deck became a covered porch – to wrap it around (which we love) and give us some outdoor sitting areas during the rainier days. All fine and good, but it did limit the light coming into the french doors of the sunroom.
More Skylights. Always More Skylights.
Also during this time (months ago), we nixed the skylights in this room fearing that installing them on what was supposed to feel like an older conservatory might be weird, especially from the exterior. So after the custom diamond patterned windows were installed (which came in without a middle shadow bar and are being replaced as we speak thanks to Sierra Pacific‘s excellent customer service), we walked into the room and strangely it wasn’t as bright as we had hoped. To most people, it’s bright enough. But because it faces north to a line of tall trees and we had covered the porch as well as gotten rid of the east sliding door, we needed more light. So right before drywall, we made the call that made us both feel like crazy people – but yes, we decided to put the Velux Skylights back in and luckily for us the framing and the electrical made it easy. We also realized that driving up to the house you are so far down that you really can’t see the top of the sunroom roof – like a tiny bit but hardly! So right now the ceiling is ripped open waiting for the tile installers to be done so we can throw those suckers back up there. (We had them already ordered and I had planned on putting them in the future “workout barn”).
Oh My Gosh, The Tile Install!!
Ok so now we are down to tile install – and BOY OH BOY is it exciting. The tile from Pratt and Larsen is so high quality, the colors are PERFECT – bright, happy, energetic, and the install details are so thought through by the ARCIFORM team. It’s a custom color (much brighter in person) but if you want it just request it. The border ended up needing to be troubleshot to make sure that we were dividing the triangles in half equally (not an awkward cut). The border along a long straight run is easy to figure out (says me) but once you turn it you have to troubleshoot how that works and often the math doesn’t pan out. But the guys from Level Plane (Erik, Jeremy, Alex, Sergei) cared SO MUCH and we spent hours mocking it up before setting it permanently.
Furniture – The Dining Table
I have been pinning for this room for a year – fantasizing about quiet writing days and energetic dinner parties. I started looking for vintage as that is my general preference but after a year I’ve officially called it on finding the right vintage pieces and here is why:
- The scale of the table we need is hard to find – 11′ long by 40″ deep. Any deeper and it can look like a conference table (42″ could have been fine, but honestly with 8-10 chairs it’s a lot). There were so many “harvest” tables that were 30″ wide (very narrow) or had a deep apron that you can barely get your legs under and I love those. Unfortunately, they just aren’t practical for 8 people to chill around.
- The few tables that I did fine on 1stDibs were in Europe and over 10k. Even if I had that kind of money, it just felt unwise to buy it sight unseen and spend $2k having it shipped, etc. What if it’s wobbly and janky. Although like art, some of the ones I loved were by important makers and their work does appreciate but that’s assuming that we’ll take great care of them and well, that just felt unwise.
- We wanted light wood to warm up the tile (so not white, black, marble, etc). We wanted timeless and classic but not too shabby chic. We still wanted a bit refined but not pretentious.
So to be expected the tables that I was most attracted to were custom made, in America, pricey, and frankly gorgeous.
For those of you looking for more affordable versions that aren’t the length that we needed (proving to be the most difficult part) here are some others that I loved.
So here is the table we just ordered, after staring at it for almost a year:
And here’s why she is the winner: The design of it is perfect – classic and timeless, but casual. That turned leg is so pretty, with a scale that is delicate yet big enough and you know how I prefer an oval (especially against all those squares). We also love that it’s made out of reclaimed wood, in this beautiful waxed pine finish, made in California, and totally customizable by a woman-owned company. BOOM. We ordered it without the middle leg so we had flexibility with chairs, and changed the dimensions to 11′ long, 40″ deep, and 30″ tall. We had to pay a 20% upcharge for the customization, which seems totally fair and in total it cost us around $5k. This is a lot for a table, I realize, but after looking for the size for over a year I feel that it’s fair and we are getting exactly what we want in every single way. And no, this is not gifted or even discounted, but they are offering free shipping and have a ton of really beautiful pieces if you’d like to check it out. Just imagine it in here:
Now For 8 Vintage Dining Chairs?? Hard To Find
I shopped for the table and the chairs at the same time, waiting on the right one to pull the trigger that I knew would affect the other. But that wasn’t before I spent a year looking at dining chairs. Again, I’m so glad that I waited because once the tile was installed, we realized that we wanted fewer lines, and less finishes – the tile is the STAR, so the chairs need to be the supporting character. Also remember, I need 8-10…that’s a LOT of chairs so they need to be relatively affordable. But before then here is what I considered:
The Comfortable Upholstered Chair – As you know we believe in comfort so I tried pretty hard to get chairs that were going to be cushy for long dinners. Eight to ten of these are virtually impossible to find vintage (where I could afford or love enough). So here are a few that I debated on the market right now:
The Shaker Spindle Back Chair – Oh how I love these and will forever, and while the busyness of the lines with the tile could be totally fine, ultimately it’s just too much. But these were the ones I loved:
Wicker, Rattan Bistro – We’ve seen these for years and years, but it’s because they are a great look, they are affordable, and have that casual indoor/outdoor vibe. So here are the ones I was considering:
I keep apologizing to people when I show them the chairs (that I still need to buy but feel pretty great about them) because they aren’t this crazy new design or anything. But as you can see in the mood board below they really do look awesome, pulled together, and let the tile shine. Plus they work with the rest of the vibe of the house (lots of wood tones, Scandi and casual). I might do a fun chair for me (peacock? upholstered wingback?).
So here is where we are at!!! The floor is the star. The chairs and table are so pretty and casual (but quiet), and the light fixtures are elegant which works so well with the floor. The custom windows from Sierra Pacific are incredible (the frames are lighter than what you see above) and that hutch is insane (although it might live near the kitchen instead to bring color in there). I’ll of course add some plants and style it all out.
Figuring out the border was hard to make sure that we cut the diamond perfectly in half and stretched the border so that the corners matched up perfectly without messing up the running pattern. Head to stories to see more on that (and huge thanks to ARCIFORM, Pratt and Larson, and Level Plane for doing an incredible job). I’m SO EXCITED about this room I can’t even tell you. I hope we all love it as much as I do in my head 🙂