Enjoy the sunshine indoors

With worries of global warming and ozone-layer depletion, "fun in the sun" isn't what it used to be. These days, if you want to soak up the rays, you…well, you can't. Instead, it's all about deflecting the UV with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and light layers. But sunshine is still important, if for no other reason than it makes us happy. A solarium allows users to enjoy the warmth and light of the sun without the harmful effects, making it perhaps the perfect solution.

What is a solarium?

Solarium is the Latin term for "sunroom," a room built onto the side of a house with walls made mostly from glass in order to allow a large amount of sun inside.

Sunroom additions are popular in American homes, as well as in Europe, where the sunroom is often called a "conservatory." They take advantage of the natural light of a home's location and add a pleasant ambiance to the home.

Sunrooms are also called patio rooms because they imitate outdoor patios from inside the house. Solarium floors are mostly made of concrete, brick or tile and can have sections of dirt on either side for indoor gardening. Those who do not wish to plant directly into ground soil can still add plants in pots or hanging baskets.

How do I add a sunroom to my home?

Unless you're quite handy with glass, you will probably need to hire a contractor to help you build your own sunroom. For those who can't afford that expense, however, there is the option of purchasing a sunroom kit and assembling it yourself. Do-it-yourself kits are still expensive, though, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 — and that's just for the parts: frames, fasteners and screws. You will have to purchase the glass separately, which will add further cost to your sunroom.

Even with the added cost of glass, though, a kit might still be cheaper than a custom-built solarium, which usually starts around $16,000.

What kind of sunroom furniture do I need?

One of the benefits of outfitting your sunroom with furniture is that you can use either indoor or outdoor furniture, giving you a much wider range of options. While some people furnish their sunroom as a second sitting or living room, most people pick patio furniture for their solariums. Patio furniture inside of a sunroom will be protected from most of the elements (except for sun), so it will last much longer. This makes more upscale patio furniture, with nicer fabrics and plusher cushions, worth the splurge.

Really, though, your sunroom design is entirely up to you.

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