9 small sunroom ideas that prove you don't need a lot of space to create a sanctuary

Interior designers share their favorite small sunroom ideas, helping to create spaces where you can entertain, relax, unwind and enjoy the views

small sunroom with blue and white striped rug
(Image credit: Donna Dotan. Design by Ariel Okin)

Small sunrooms can be the most wonderful part of the home. Little, sun-drenched cocoons to retreat to, bathed in light and with views of the outdoors, they often become favorite spaces in which to relax.

'I think a sunroom is ideal for two or more people for conversation, cocktails, coffee, tea,' says the interior designer Chad Graci. And actually that's what they're made for – an extra living room with no air of formality at all. A room to truly unwind in.

But just because they're small doesn't mean they can't be mighty, and with a few design tricks they can enhanced well beyond their size. From choosing the right color for the walls to filling them with the perfect pieces of furniture and getting the layout just so, here designers share their best small sunroom ideas.

1. Fill the sunroom with plants

small sunroom with lots of plants

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman Photography. Design by Brigette Romanek)

Sunrooms, by their very nature, are a space where you connect with the outdoors. Large windows, a flood of natural light and – hopefully – views of a backyard that are a joy to gaze onto. To help soften that demarcation between indoors and out, take inspiration from the designer LA-based designer Brigette Romanek's sunroom and fill it with plants.

'By extending greenery all the way from the two and a half acres of land that surround us to actually inside the home, there’s a real sense of harmonious warmth,' Brigette says. 'Plants bring life. They make you comfortable. My goal is that anywhere the eye goes you’re able to enjoy something that is beautiful. There is always a treat for the eye.'

2. Decorate with stripes

small sunroom with striped blue rug

(Image credit: Donna Dotan. Design by Ariel Okin)

Being a place to relax, a sun-filled space, and – usually – a room with casual, comfortable seating, it's easy to draw the parallels between sunrooms and vacations. And even small sunrooms can be decorated as if you were away, filled with cheerful motifs like deckchair stripes (which, if used cleverly, can also make them feel a little bigger).

'Decorating with stripes is the perfect summer signifier,' says interior designer Ariel Okin, who designed this small sunroom complete with its blue and white rug. 'Tailored and crisp, they can also be fun and cheeky when done in a playful color. They anchor this sunroom in a carefree spirit, yet provide a solid foundation for the rest of the layering to bounce off of.'

3. Play with dark patterns

sunroom with dark sofa

(Image credit: Caroline Turner Interiors)

It may seem counterintuitive, but in small sunrooms, it can be wise to mix in some patterns with darker bases. These fabrics offer a sharp contrast to all the light and air that dance in through the windows, and surprisingly can help to make the space feel bigger. And, just as importantly, for a space that the family tends to relax in, they can be a very practical choice.

'The client and I were shopping together and were just obsessed when we came across the sofa fabric,' says the Chicago-based interior designer Caroline Turner. 'The clients have a young family and love to entertain so it was perfect to hide a multitude of sins while adding whimsy to the space.'

4. Contrast dark furniture with white walls

small sunroom with white walls and black furnishings


Small sunrooms lend themselves to being painted white. Not only is it generally a good way of making them seem a little larger, but these light, bright spaces can be enhanced by going white on the walls, which bounces the sunshine around the space.

But to give the room a bit more design flair, contrast the paint choice with darker furniture within. 'I feel one can gain greater visual equity when contrasting neutral design elements,' says the New York-based interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins, who created this sunroom, above. 'For example, when you juxtapose dark-colored furnishings against crisp, brighter backgrounds, everything takes on a graphic, sculptural quality.'

5. Apply classic design principles

sunroom with two armchairs

(Image credit: Sara Essex Bradley. Design by Chad Graci)

Small sunrooms can easily borrow design principles used throughout the rest of the home. Those of ordered symmetry, for example, which create such soothing layouts in a living room, work well here, in this sunroom decorated by the New Orleans-based designer Chad Graci.

'The symmetrical layout really aids communication,' Chad says. 'Additionally, the symmetrical arrangement can ground a sunroom where there is so much light and view and ideally, a garden surrounding the space!'

6. Choose a checkerboard flooring

small sunroom with piano and checkerboard floor

(Image credit: Chris Little.Design by Don Easterling and Nina Long of Mathews Design Group)

So this small sunroom may be just large enough to fit a grand piano, but its take on flooring is one that can be applied to even the tiniest of spaces. Decorated by Mathews Design Group, the studio worked with the existing architectural features to create a room that flows beautifully. 

'This historic home in Atlanta was designed by architect Neel Reid in 1911 and the sunroom was originally an open porch which was later meticulously converted into this enclosed sunroom,' says Nina Long, senior interior designer at Mathews Design Group. 

'It’s the perfect room to have morning coffee and admire the gardens from. The graphic black and white checkerboard floors were hand-painted and adds just the perfect amount of interest to the room while still keeping it classic and appropriate to the home. We added a skirted table with a Sister Parish leafy fabric and Samual & Sons trim.'

'The antique French pine chairs are covered in a Sister Parish fabric. Various collections are seen throughout such as the blue and white plates and chinoiserie boxes. We love the simple palette of black and white with pops of green which seems to really create a seamless transition from the inside to the beautiful landscape beyond.'

7. Use green liberally

sunroom with green windows

(Image credit: Caroline Turner Interiors)

Another checkerboard floor, but this time the monochromatic palette is soothed by the choice of a calming sage green for the walls and windows, decorated by Caroline Turner.

'It’s a cliche at this point but I wanted to bring the verdant backyard into the interior,' Caroline says. 'I chose high gloss to mimic the sun hitting a patch of grass and drenched the space to feel fully enveloped.'

8. Go all-white

white sunroom

(Image credit: Felix Forest. Design by AP Design House)

Another approach for small sunrooms is to borrow from the Scandinavians and create a layered palette of warm whites. It will help enhance the sense of light that this space is made for, as seen here in this room decorated by AP Design House.

'I opted for all white for this sunroom to maximize the natural light and the beautiful leafy surrounds,' says the studio's founder Alexandra Ponting. 'The room feels like a treehouse in the sky and I hoped the interior space would feel like a calm cloud surrounded by nature. Although only white and neutral tones were introduced, each has so many contrasting textures.'

9. Layer textiles

sunroom with rug

(Image credit: Kip Dawkins. Design by Ashley Hanley)

Often, sunrooms don't seem to get the same design treatment as the rest of the home, approached as if they're part of the yard rather than part of the house. But there's no reason why they shouldn't be layered with pillows and rugs just like a living room - in fact, as the Virginia-based interior designer Ashley Hanley found, it will make the space much more inviting.

'Nestled on over 90 acres of Certified Wildlife Landscape, colorful wildflower fields, and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this sunroom overlooks the impressive vegetable and fruit gardens on the farm,' Ashley says. 

'What was once an original porch has since been converted into a finished sunroom space, complete with skylights to allow for natural light to continue into the existing farmhouse. My clients wanted this space to be a comfortable and casual space, but well equipped to hold up to the sun exposure. We outfitted the room in outdoor textiles, including a polypropylene fiber rug that helps provide a soft and cozy texture against the slate floors.'

Pip Rich

Pip Rich is an interiors journalist and editor with 20 years' experience, having written for all of the UK's biggest titles. Most recently, he was the Global Editor in Chief of our sister brand, Livingetc, where he now continues in a consulting role as Executive Editor. Before that, he was acting editor of Homes and Gardens, and has held staff positions at Sunday Times Style, ELLE Decoration, Red and Grazia. He has written three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, looked at the homes of architects who had decorated with house plants. Over his career, he has interviewed pretty much every interior designer working today, soaking up their knowledge and wisdom so as to become an expert himself.