I’ve shared bits and pieces of our remodel project on Instagram Stories and have collected lots and lots of questions.  I was surprised by the number of people who said they have always wondered if they could do this in their home as well so I’m going to show you the first phase of this project and how we took our current back patio and converted it to additional living area in our house!  First, a few notes about remodeling in general.

sunroom inspiration

Budgeting for a remodel project


The first thought of any remodel is “How much is this going to cost??”  The problem with big, or even small, remodels is the whole If-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie thing.  One thing almost always leads to another and sometimes it’s hard to find a good stopping point.  With this considered, lay out ahead of time what your plans are, and what your limits are.  Get a realistic idea of the costs involved and then definitely pad them!  My husband and I started thinking about this project quite a while ago and then decided how much we needed to save to actually make it happen.  We’re big Dave Ramsey disciples and believe in paying cash and cutting up credit cards so planning ahead was essential for us.  Sticking to the budget in projects like this can be really difficult because unexpected things ALWAYS come up, but I’d encourage you to do it.  My husband will think it’s hilarious that I’m writing this because he’s the one that’s great at managing finances and staying diehard within the confines of a budget and I’m the one always trying to find loopholes and push the limits.  But when it comes down to it I’m a firm believer in budgets and the power of saving money ahead of time for things you want to purchase and sometimes that means holding off on things you really do want to do (hands down the hardest part for me).  For example, we didn’t expect to have to replace our flooring on the entire main floor in our house.  That ate up a huge portion of our budget, but we made the decision to do it, and the trade off is waiting to purchase a lot of the furniture for the new space.   However you decide to do your project, set a budget and make sure you stay on top of it or it can easily get on top of you.

Do I hire a designer?


So many people have asked me if I felt like it was worth it to hire a designer.  I understand that people are iffy, because I’ve felt like that before as well.  We didn’t use anyone when we built our house 5 years ago because I felt perfectly comfortable making decisions.  I feel like I have a pretty decent sense of style and design, but I knew from the start that I wanted to hire a designer for this project.  There is a big difference between a “decorator,” or someone who simply has a great eye for design, and a qualified interior designer.  A good designer doesn’t just pick out pretty things, they have an educated understanding of construction and architecture.  They’re knowledgable about the building process and everything involved in that (electrical, finishes, carpentry and trim, spacial details, and so so much more.)  I hired a local designer, Jaime Thompson of Poppyloft Design and I’ve told everyone I know that was the best decision I made on this project.

Jaime and I have been acquaintances for a while, and I followed her on Instagram so I could get a sense of her style before reaching out.  It’s a good idea to find someone you mesh well with, both personality and style wise.  A good designer can work with any client and in any style, but it sure helps to have someone who you feel “gets” you.  I knew Jaime was a great fit for me when at our first meeting, she asked way more questions about me, my family, and how we used our spaces and what I liked, than she did talking about herself or her ideas.   She really got to know me and what I wanted and then came up with idea after idea of creative solutions for my space and my needs.  Her value has been immeasurable on this project.  I’ll tell you more about her and some of the reasons I found it really helpful to have a professional designer on the next installment of this post,  but if you’re local to the Boise area, I would definitely recommend her.

Hiring a Contractor


I’ve heard so many nightmare stories about this that I’m just glad we have always worked with great people in this field.  People asked me how I went about finding a good person to take on our project.  We hired the same builder who built our home several years ago to do this addition.  That’s a huge bonus because he already knows exactly how our home is built and everything that’s underneath every board and behind every wall.  He’s also a good friend and a great person so we were excited to work together again and we knew he was trustworthy and honest.  It was also fun to see many of same faces that we got to know during our building process back again.  if you’re doing a remodel like this, these people will be in your home and around your family constantly, so it makes a big difference who they are and if you feel comfortable with them in such close proximity!  My advice when shopping for a contractor is to not just look at someone’s resume or previous jobs.  It doesn’t matter so much how pretty their website is, it matters how happy their clients are.  Talk to previous clients.  Ask about the whole experience and if they’d hire that person again.  I think word of mouth is the best tool when it comes to hiring people in the construction field.    There are a lot of people who can build beautiful spaces.  You’ll want one who is good to work with as well.

Building a Sunroom from an Existing Patio


So.  Let me show you what we did.  This was our spacious covered patio.  It has 2 doors on the outside, one goes into our kitchen and one goes into the master bedroom. That set of 4 widows you see in the center are the widows of our family room.  We have LOVED having such a huge porch, it was actually hard losing this because we’ve had so much fun back there, but we’ll be adding on a new porch eventually!

how to remodel a back patio

Since it was already a solid, weight-bearing structure with nothing on top, it was basically already set up with the framework to be an actual room.  This saves a lot of money compared to starting a structure from scratch.  You’ll notice that there are steps up to the house, so the first thing that had to be done was raising the floor.  They take a patch out of the existing wall in order to get the exact height of the current home floor so it can match up perfectly. The floor is insulated, and then the walls are framed out in between the current beams.

tips for remodel projects

Since we are keeping the exterior finishes on all of this, the inside portion of the stucco, etc. was torn off after.  We specifically framed out new windows in the new space to fit the old windows that would be removed from the family room.  If you can reuse anything, go for it!  Things like that add up big time in the final budget.

how to create a sunroom from an existing porchYou’ll notice we lost our exterior doors with this addition.  We had them replace the door to our master with wall and our previous kitchen door is now just an open walk through.  So to compensate for that, we put sliding doors on either side of this room where there were previously just windows.  For example this is our previous kitchen window which is now a door (and a very confused toddler there, haha.)

how to convert a porch to a sunroomAnd I LOVE this giant sliding door I now have in our master. Eventually we’ll have steps and a cute little private garden area right off our bedroom. I’ll show you more of this as it comes together.

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

Our builder waited until the outside was completely closed in and as much of the messy part was done as possible (tearing down stucco, etc.) until breaking down the interior wall of our house.  Once this wall came down the mess began.  You can tent and tape and sheet off as much as humanly possible, but it doesn’t really matter.  You get dust and dirt and debris everywhere!  You can see in this photo below how the former back patio door was removed and opened up and there’s a new sliding door in the kitchen.

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

You’ll also notice in the photo above we have dark hardwood floors in the kitchen and carpet in the family room.  We always planned on removing the carpet to have one continuous flooring option, but due to a turn of events that will take too long to explain, we ended up replacing all the hardwood on the entire main floor.  We looked at LOTS of flooring options and eventually went with these gorgeous extra wide 9″ planks.  It’s a European white oak from The Villa Blanca Collection and we LOVE it.  The warm honey color lightened up the entire space and the real wood adds a certain warmth that I love.  My favorite thing however, after having dark wood for the last several years, is that I am no longer a slave to cleaning them!

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

After the floors went in they were covered right back up for painting.  In the new space, Jaime helped me come up with some beautiful, classic trim work (and by “Jaime helped me,” I mean Jaime did it.) We decided to paint it all white, but I didn’t want it to look all Chip & Joanna.  I liked paneling, but I didn’t necessarily want shiplap, which just felt a little too trendy (ironically, since it’s been around for hundreds of years, I know.)  For a fresh take, we did our planks vertically, which was also very intentional as the room is already wider than it is tall.  The vertical planking draws the eye up and balances the space.  The large valance and crown molding above the all windows is because we built in custom “pockets” to hide roll-down shades so they can completely disappear when they’re up.

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

One of the purposes of this room is to bring the outside in and the inside out.  One of our big investments here are these sliding glass walls.  It’s 24 feet of windows that stack on top of each other to open up that whole back wall. It looks a little gloomy out there right now in the dead of winter, but I can’t wait for this view come spring through fall.

I also LOVE a good ceiling detail.  We have a different style grid in our adjoining family room so I thought a clean, subtle grid would be nice in this new space as well.   The semi-finished room here is a fresh, clean, bright new space that we absolutely love.  Hard to believe this used to be our porch!

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

It’s not quite finished yet.  We have quite a bit of lighting going in now, and some custom cabinetry, and furniture, obviously!  We did a little more refreshing to both the nearby nook and the family room in order to tie all the spaces together.  Jaime also had fantastic ideas there, which I appreciated because one of my concerns from the beginning was adding a new space that didn’t look like we just plopped it there where it didn’t belong.  We spent minimal money for some amazingly impactful changes in the adjoining room that I’ll show you in a future post.

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

I’m going to show you more of the changes as this space comes together, but I thought you might like to see phase 1 here where it first went from porch to house!

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

The number 1 question people ask me is “But like, what is this room for exactly?”  Well.  You shall see!  Now the fun part begins!  There’s so much more happening here and I can’t wait to show you some before and afters when it’s all done.  Stay tuned!

how to convert a porch to a sunroom

Have any of you considered doing something similar?  Let me know if you have any questions about our process!

Sources for commonly asked questions:

DesignerJaime Thompson, Poppyloft Design
BuilderMorgan Creek Homes
FlooringVilla Blanca Collection (9″ luxury width, Rioja) . If you’re local flooring dealer doesn’t carry this line, contact Bill Fishel of The Design Group.
White Paint ColorSherwin Williams Snowbound
Sliding Glass WallsWestern Window Systems (via View Point Windows, Boise)
Sliding Glass DoorsSierra Pacific Aluminum Clad Wood Sliding (super love these)

(Note, none of this sponsored.  Hired, payed for, and recommended.)

 

 

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  1. geri anne hoskins Reply

    Hi Sara! Awhile ago on IG, you asked for recommendations for a robot vacuum…..I was wondering if you ever got one, and if so, which did you choose? Thank you!

    • Sara Reply

      Sorry I didn’t see this! We DID end up getting one. We actually found a really great deal on an off-brand one and it’s been working great! It’s called DeeBot. Honestly we got it because we found it for $120 haha

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