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before and afterInteriors

Before & After: The Evolution of a Sunroom

by Erin Austen Abbott

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge

When I bought my house, I was a single 29-year-old. I had been looking to buy in Memphis, TN at the time and didn’t really know that I’d end up back in Mississippi, my home state. When I was out driving around one day, I saw this house for sale and started peeking through the windows, (it was vacant). It had the most perfect natural light streaming through and was only 20 miles from Oxford, the town where I grew up. I decided to inquire further. Once I got a tour of it, it just felt like home. Up to that point, I hadn’t lived in any home for more than five years my entire life, so this was a big step to even ponder. I made an offer and have now lived here for 14 years. It’s so old and needs so many things all the time, but it’s home and I love it.

When I first moved in, it was just me in this 1,800-square-foot house, with two bedrooms and a Jack & Jill bathroom. Located off of one of the bedrooms is a small sunroom. It quickly became my favorite room in the house and I made it my bedroom. An odd choice for sure, but something about the light that streamed in, all the windows on two of the walls, and the giant oak tree just outside that almost hugs the house (creating a treehouse-like view) made this room the perfect choice for a bedroom. As time would have it — and me being one who has never been able to keep furniture in one place for long — I moved rooms two more times before settling in the front bedroom. Within the same time that passed, I met my husband Sean and a few years after we got married, we had our son, Tom Otis. There was no question which room would be his: the sunroom.

When he was a baby, we spent hours together in this room, reading, rocking, building with blocks, listening to music, etc… with his toys packed around in baskets and on extra shelves — everything with a place. His toys and books started spilling out into the actual attached bedroom, which has become his playroom and doubles as a guest room. Now that he’s six, it felt like a good time to upgrade his room, to give him a place of calm and a room he can grow up in without needing a lot of change in the future. With a new bed, blinds and dresser, this room will transition perfectly into his teen years. Sure his previous yard sale dresser was good for awhile, but when the drawers became hard to close — packed like sardines with larger clothes — I knew it was time to upgrade to a larger one that he will have for a lifetime. We found the design we were looking for in a mid-century style one from Article. Keeping this room streamlined, we put the dresser just outside the sunroom, in the attached bedroom. It also doubles as a spot for guests who need a drawer when they stay in our home. Tom needed an upgrade on his bed frame, too. His previous one was beginning to fall apart from years of jumping on it, family book time each night, and all the games of hide-and-seek, where his bed was base.

Tom Otis has told me many times that he wished he lived in a hotel. When I ask him what he likes about hotel rooms, he always says the bed and all the pillows. He also loves that hotel beds are so big and cozy. That’s my child! Now, with a low platform bed (also from Article), he feels a little more grown-up and still has all the coziness. We also wanted to update the curtains in his room. As a baby, we wanted the space to be as dark as possible for him to sleep soundly, and that meant we doubled up with blinds and curtains. We used thick velvet curtains that were never really the right size. Now with roller blinds, in a shade a tad darker than the walls, it offers a nice contrast between the high-gloss trim in white. They also help his art collection pop against the grey walls. Now each morning before school, Tom and I roll up the blinds and watch the sunrise through the big oak tree and over the roof line next door. Scroll below for a tour of Tom’s updated room. —Erin

Photography by Erin Austen Abbott

Image above: A collection of art and windows surround the Article Tessu platform bed, making a place for bedtime stories, bird-watching, and playing for Tom Otis.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
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A roundup of Tom in his room over the years.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
2/23

When I first bought this house, I snapped images on film of each room. This was the sunroom the day I got the keys, 14 years ago, now shown side by side with how it looks today.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
3/23

I had the joy of being featured on Design*Sponge back in 2010. My style has changed some over the years, but many things have just moved around. I have gotten rid of a lot of things to make way for Tom. Some things were just passed onto him.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
4/23

Tom Otis loves to play in his bed. From getting all his toy cars out to watching for birds and squirrels through the windows, it’s a room where he feels completely at home.

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5/23

A ledge for Iron Man will go far for this boy.

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6/23

Just one part of his ever-growing art collections. With all white fames in different styles, it give the art room to pop against the grey wall. The art over the headboard becomes a focal point.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
7/23

Tom, after school, playing in his room.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
8/23

Previously without a headboard on his last bed, this Article frame has changed the comfort level for reading books at night. Often, all three of us pile into his bed for nightly book time and feel so cozy and comfortable with the padded headboard to lean against.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
9/23

A collection of his best friends.

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10/23

The room was a dark salmon color when I moved in. Now the grey serves as a backdrop to all the color. The sofa is a place we often find ourselves relaxing on and I sometimes write my Design*Sponge posts from Tom’s room, while he’s at school. The large green pillows give me the monochromatic look that I love so much.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
11/23

When my home was on Design*Sponge back in 2010, I got so many comments on the green love seat. I was sad to get rid of it, but we got two cats shortly after the feature and I didn’t want to see it get ruined, so I parted with it.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
12/23

When I had bookshelves built to go in Tom’s room, I knew that I wanted them to be painted the same color as the walls, for a monochromatic look. The sofa was the first piece of furniture that Sean and I bought as a couple, outfitted with new pillows for Tom and the small pillows that were always on the sofa in my home growing up. It feels a bit full circle.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
13/23

Many of the books on Tom’s shelves were mine as a little girl. My mom didn’t save everything from my childhood, but she did save all of my books, which I’ve passed down to Tom.

14/23

Tattered and torn, this collection still brings lots of joy to Tom Otis.

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15/23

A close-up of the pillows and art in one corner of Tom’s room.

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With a true love of science and nature, Tom’s nature collection lives front and center when you walk into his room. More of his collection has been built up the wall.

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Personalized art from Mike Prater in Tom’s collection.

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Among his nature finds, Tom often turns to my childhood star finder.

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Beautiful gems and rocks are among the collection.

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20/23

A deep mint color once contrasted with the dark salmon of the bedroom and the sunroom. Now the room that you pass through to get to the bed is a calm blue.

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21/23

Tom’s growth chart lines the doorway, along with layers of paint over the years in our home, built in 1890.

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22/23

The mid-century inspired dresser from Article is like a dream! Deep drawers give me a place to store Tom’s extra clothing. Before I had to change things out from summer to winter, because not all his pants and shorts, sweaters and the like would all fit into one piece of furniture. In a home with only three closets, storage space is so valuable. The mix of art and goods on top is in-line with the sentiment that we carry around here.

Before & After: The Evolution Of a Sunroom on Design*Sponge
23/23

A full look at the dresser that has helped give Tom an upgrade to his room. From little boy to teen, this room will grow with him.

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Comments

  • I love this story so much! We have been in our row house for eleven years, and our back bedroom has gone through a similar evolution. It was our office for years when we started our business. Then the business grew, and we moved to a commercial space. Our bedroom was always the front bedroom because it was the biggest, but as our babies have grown into kids it seemed to make sense to give them the front two bedrooms since they are connected by a door. The back bedroom is the smallest and has no closet, so the trunk room (which used to be the nursery) was converted into our dressing room/closet, and we moved into the cozy back bedroom. I love the light and being a little farther from the kids. No clothes in the room make it very streamlined.

  • That first picture showing your little boy growing from baby to school-age in 4 frames touched my heart. You’ve created a space for imagination! Great idea to take advantage of the warm climate and use the sun room as a bedroom.

    • Oh thank you so much!! I really appreciate your kind words. And yes, he has the warmest / coolest room, depending on the season. It’s great!

  • I love how sweet Tom now plays, sleeps and dreams in the room that you once did. What a wonderful feeling that must be! He is a precious boy and I love how you made his room so perfect for him. I see my nephew in him and I’m just bursting with love for the wonderful way you and your family connect with your space. Thank you so much for sharing! Tom Otis is a doll!

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