Showhouse feature in Over the Mountain Journal


Sunroom Reflects Casual Comfort

Over the Mountain Journal, April 23, 2009

by Lucy Merrill, Journal Features Writer


A solarium is often a prized feature of old, stately homes, a luxurious indoor garden conjuring images of ferns, afternoon tea and Oscar Wile-style repartee.  Also called a conservatory, it is a room perhaps best known to Americas as the scene of murderous doings by Col. Mustard or one of his crew.

In contrast to either image, stuffy or felonious, the sunroom at the 2009 Decorators’ Show House is pretty and inviting, without a hint of hoity-toitiness.  Less a plant room and more a sunny sitting room, the space maintains the flavor of a traditional solarium rethought for a modern home and its occupants.

According to designer Doug Davis of Tracery Interiors, the room was built around the idea of comfort.

“Because the house was so formal, we were trying to create a more casual and comfortable space,” Davis said.

Bur first, Davis has to bring the room into the 21st century.  Down came a big ceiling fan and oversize track lighting that gave the space a disco-era feel.  Then Davis went about creating his vision of comfort.

“Everything in the room was painted yellow–beams and walls,”  he said.  “The first thing was to paint the overhead wood beams dark to get some contrast.”

White walls ensured a light feel, leaving the room’s sunniness to its eponym–the sun.

“Because much of the room is glass, we wanted to bring the colors (of the outdoors) inside,” Davis said.

The leafy green view is echoed here and there with green accents in the sunroom.  Many of the furnishings are green in the environmental sense, as well.

“One of our themes was ‘going green’ ” Davis said.  “Almost everything in the room is eco-friendly.  For instance, the cushions and upholstery are soy-based (fabrics).”

Recycling, long the linchpin of workaday ecological concern, has found its way into upscale decor, as well.

“The aluminum tables on either side of the sofa are made from recycled aluminum cans,” Davis said.

The sofa and tables rest on a unique recycled rug–a patchwork crafted from squares reclaimed from otherwise unsalvageable antique oriental carpets.  Elsewhere, an antique Oushak rug demonstrates the convergence of classic style and modern consciousness.

“One way to be eco-friendly is by using antiques,” Davis said.

Weaving classic pieces into the rooms’ decor also gives the space a sense of depth, while conserving the wood an craftsmanship of the past.

“We used an antique French work table as a console,” Davis said.  “It could also be used a desk.”

The room is bisected by a natural traffic pattern, so Davis created two rooms in one.  The table is the anchor of one side room of the room, providing a bit of practicality with space for work or crafts.  Adding local color here is a painting by Courtney Garrett, a young artist from Atlanta.  The painting was inspired by a photo taken in Alabama.


The window side of the room is the main conversation area, featuring a sofa upholstered in natural linen, a pair of green upholstered chairs and an elaborately carved dark wood chair.

“We used a heavy carved wood table to anchor the grouping and give it weight,” Davis said.

The sunroom’s position position adjacent to the master bedroom helped Davis’s conception of the space as a casual retreat from the formality of much of the house’s architecture and appointments.

“I think it is a comfortable and relaxed room in a very French house,” he said.  “It’s nice to come into a kind of secret room that is more casual.”


[photos by Emil Wald for Over the Mountain Journal]

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