Tag Archives: fall

The Coveted Three-season Room

The Coveted Three-season Room

Here in New England, the month of October brings brilliant fall foliage and shorter, crisper days. It is the time of year when we layer sweaters, watch football and appreciate all things autumn. While many of our clients welcome this seasonal change, they are not quite ready to give up their outdoor living spaces. This is when a three-season room is a wonderful option.

Easing the transition between indoors and out, the great room opens to a shingle-clad three-season porch.

The three-season room, sometimes called a sunroom or solarium (Latin for “place of sunlight”), is typically enclosed in glass and provides homeowners with an immediate visual connection to the outdoors. The use of large window areas helps optimize the amount of natural light filling the room – providing a marvelous “outdoor” aesthetic. As the days get shorter, this access to light is especially appreciated.

Solarium is Latin for “place of sun[light]”

We often design our three-season rooms with screened-in windows that can be replaced with storm panels as the seasons change. This offers homeowners a space with great versatility: in warmer months, the summer air can circulate, and when temperatures dip, the windows protect from elements like wind and rain.

When the temperature becomes cooler, screens can be replaced…
…with glass, extending the porch season into the fall.

While not fully heated like a year-round room, we often design our sunrooms to include radiant heat and a fireplace, which adds ambiance while entertaining or gathering on a cool fall night. The cozy space offers a connection with nature without leaving the house.

A fireplace and radiant heat from bluestone floors offer homeowners added comfort in chilly weather.

Sometimes, a client will request that we transition a three-season room into a year-round room. In this case, we will use permanent casement windows (which can open out 90% in summer months) surrounded by beaded board or wainscoting to give the sense the porch was enclosed over time.

A year-round porch uses high performing, energy-efficient windows.

As the days get cooler and shorter, we appreciate the wonderful versatility of a three-season room, which affords homeowners with extra sunlight, protection from the elements and effortlessly extends the outdoor living season.

Window Boxes

Window Boxes

A Year Round Gardening Affair

Few features impact a home’s curb appeal like beautiful window boxes overflowing with vibrant, seasonal colors. For centuries, window boxes have been ubiquitous in European villages, adding exterior charm and warmth to all forms of architecture. Window boxes eventually traveled to America with Colonial settlers, and today we add them to our homes as exterior adornments and added layers of information on our primary facades.

To successfully complement the architecture and complete the look of home, it is important that the window box is scaled properly. For visual appeal, we recommend that the box extends the full length of the window from the outer edge of the casing. This effectively “anchors” the window. A window box that is too short will look awkward and out of place with the home’s aesthetic. Another important consideration is the material from which the casing is made. We typically use Azek, which looks and feels like real wood, but is weather resistant and will not peel or rot in the elements. Additionally, it can easily withstand the weight of heavy potting soil so will not sag or bend and is essentially maintenance free.

Window boxes soften a home’s hard architectural edges and help celebrate each season with splashes of color. We encourage homeowners to update planting material every few months to highlight the changing moods and temperatures of the year. There are several excellent landscape design companies with whom we partner and Donaroma’s on Martha’s Vineyard is our favorite island resource. We recently talked with Donaroma’s designer Cammie Naylor about window box ideas for clients on the island. Ms. Naylor describes window boxes as “a constant theater,” and an opportunity to add bright punctuation points to a home’s exterior throughout the year. She and the designers at Donaroma’s take several factors into consideration when creating a homeowner’s window box design. Among others, these factor including season, sun exposure, and the homeowner’s personal taste.

As we welcome spring, flowers like daffodils, tulips and pansies are favorites – their bright, recognizable forms and colors instantly announce the season’s arrival. In the warmer days of summer – roughly Memorial Day through Labor Day – classic, crimson geraniums are an island favorite as they love the heat and are relatively drought tolerant. The seasons of fall and winter offer additional opportunities to freshen and update window boxes with mums and kale in the fall and small evergreens and pine bows during the holidays. No matter what time of year, Ms. Naylor recommends keeping the planting elements from 3-4 to ensure visual balance of the window box, stating, “it calms the eye to see symmetry and repetition.”

We all appreciate viewing a home with stunning window box displays, but the fact is, it takes care and consistent watering to keep them beautiful. Many of our homes feature both first and second floor window boxes, so we recommend our clients consider adding an automatic “drip” watering system (pictured below). Water ascends from a hidden, clear tube (or copper covered) that snakes up the side of the house and works on a timer from the home’s irrigation system. Using a self water system effectively ensures the window boxes are watered consistently during the busy days of spring and summer.

Hats off to the glorious window box, which provides year-round curb appeal, creative expression and architectural enhancement.

Happy planting!