Before and After: A Small Sunroom’s $800 Revamp Is Cozy, Boho, and Renter-Friendly

published Jul 12, 2023
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It’s hard to imagine anything dreamier than a sunroom for displaying a gorgeous plant collection or curling up with a good book. Renter Megan can attest: Her seven-window heated sunroom is an asset during Minnesota winters and had real cozy potential, but it wasn’t always a priority in her home.

Credit: Megan

When Megan and her husband Ben (plus their dog Wrigley) first moved in in October 2022, they “focused on settling into other spaces [they] were using daily like the bedroom and kitchen,” Megan explains, but she always knew the sunroom had great potential. 

“I knew I wanted to use the sunroom for lounging, reading, and entertaining, so ample seating was a must,” Megan says — and figuring out that seating would be a slight challenge due to the small size of the space: It was long and narrow (14 feet by 7 feet) with three doors.

Credit: Megan

“Because of the exterior door to the backyard, it needed to function as both a living space and an entryway,” Megan says. To make the space more practical, she started by shopping for the right furniture — her favorites being a loveseat from Wayfair and a rattan armchair from Urban Outfitters — and she used the Freeform app that comes on the iPhone, plus about three hours of real-life furniture rearranging with her friend Karla to decide on the optimal layout.

“At first, the sunroom only had the loveseat and the Urban Outfitters chair, but I found it wasn’t super practical to only have seating for three people since we frequently have two or three friends or my parents over,” Megan says. “I was frustrated because even though I had a little money left in the budget, I was having a hard time finding another chair I liked and that fit the design of the room. The rattan chair was so unique, I needed something that would complement and not compete with it, and I was hesitant to add yet another wood tone.”

Credit: Megan

When Megan’s mom offered her a wicker chair she’d been keeping in her basement, Megan decided the price (free!) was right and that she didn’t want to worry so much about finding the “perfect” piece. 

In addition to the wicker chair, Megan also added lots of large plants, plus a shelf that provides some privacy but still lets the light in, and a footstool — the latter two shopped from storage and other rooms in her house — to cozy up the place. “I was surprised at how little I had to purchase new,” Megan says of her revamp. Plus, one of the main difference makers in the space was just decluttering, she says. 

Megan decided to move some other entryway items, like Wrigley’s leashes, reusable grocery bags, shoes, to an area just off her kitchen, which “made the sunroom feel less like a transitional space and more like a living space,” she says. 

Credit: Megan

The white curtains, which help brighten the room, were another game-changer. Megan says all the brown paneling before “made the room feel dark even with all the natural sunlight,” however, she was worried about painting or altering the paneling because the wood is soft and scratches easily, she says, and because she wasn’t sure how attached the home’s owner is to it.

“The existing window treatments were hung from the window frame and made the room feel short and dark, so instead of drilling new holes into the wood paneling, I suspended the curtain rod between Command hooks that are removable and hung long, sheer curtains to give the room height, and that breeze-y feel,” she says.

Credit: Megan

One other quirk to navigate in the sunroom was the lighting. The room gets lots of light through the windows in the day, but at nighttime, the sunroom only has one wall outlet for lamps, and the overhead light is really harsh, Megan says. “Even with a surge protector and extension cords, I had to be judicious about how much to plug in,” she adds. “I focused on just a couple of high-impact lamps (from IKEA) and the wall sconce (from Amazon.)”

Megan’s white sheer curtains (also an IKEA find) cost $20 apiece, her lighting cost $142 total, and the entire room revamp cost under $800. She’s proud of the fact that she was able to make a big difference in a renter-friendly, budget-friendly way. 

“It has become our summertime living room,” Megan says. “We drink coffee there in the morning, host friends for a glass of wine, read, and listen to music.” In fact, she wrote her Before & After submission from the cozy loveseat!