Open ‘Er Up! (Converting A Sunroom Into A Veranda)

Sherry and I were excited when we first laid eyes on our house’s sunroom. We were actually grateful for the barely budge-able glass sliders and the damp carpet because the sellers positioned this house as a real fixer upper, and we knew the raw state of this room was one of the things that put it within our price range.

When it came to brainstorming what we thought we could do with it, I had deja vu for our first sunroom, which we made over with some floor & ceiling paint, sheer curtains and some cozy furniture. My mind used that to fill in the blanks as to what this new sunroom could become.

And although so far we’ve only so far removed the carpet and plopped some furniture down randomly, I could already feel us heading in that direction…

But Sherry had a different vision. She honed in on a key difference between those two sunrooms: this one was surrounded by a deck on all sides. And those broken doors – in particular the two sets on the long wall that we literally couldn’t slide at all – were a barrier to us enjoying this outdoor space to its fullest.

So she wanted to take ’em off. Leaving something “open and glorious” (to borrow her words) – like a covered porch complete with an outdoor rug, vaulted ceiling, and a tiled floor. Something decidedly less like a big fishbowl tacked on to the back of our house.

I was nervous and unconvinced (like I am before most big undertakings). What about in the winter? The drafty glass doesn’t keep it warm enough for winter use anyways, Sherry reminded me. What about bugs? We used to leave the sliders wide open in our last sunroom with the fan running and no bugs wanted anything to do with us thanks to the moving air. But, um, is this sort of covered porch a thing people do?

Then Sherry showed me this image.

Sure, we don’t have a fireplace (although maybe we could add one someday…) but that picture had me sold. Heck, it even got me excited. We’ve used this deck more than any other outdoor space we’ve ever had, mostly because Clara enjoys playing with her baby pool and water table out there. And I realized this change would only make that time better. We could still retreat to the shade of the sunroom and the breeze of its fan, but we wouldn’t feel so closed off from the outside.

But enough talking. Let’s get down to business. Taking the sliding screen and glass doors off was a cinch. The glass door was heavier so it took a bit more oomph, but I just lifted them both slightly and tilted them off their track.

Honestly, the toughest part was carrying the glass out of the way. We piled them up beside our garage (Habitat for Humanity is coming to pick them up next week since the slides are the only broken parts, so the doors and screens themselves are in great shape to be donated).

Next I had to remove the frame pieces that kept the glass doors on either side from moving. This involved some unscrewing, a bit of prying and even some light hammer taps, but it all came up pretty easily overall.

With the inner frame gone, the two stationary panes on either side came out just like the sliding door in the middle. A little lift and tilt, and out they came. Although from years of not having budged, they took lots of oomph.

Removing all of the doors (12 glass doors and 4 screens) probably took me about two hours (excluding photo taking time). And as each one came out, I was able to see Sherry’s “open and glorious” vision become opener and gloriouser (?). Part of me wanted to stop and just kick back with a tall glass of sweet tea for the rest of the day.

But demo was not done. Each doorway still had the metal frame around it that was a bit of an eyesore (and the bottom piece was a major tripping hazard). So after removing a few dozen screws and prying a bunch of metal free from caulk with several tugs and twists, the frames came out.

This process took me about two more hours. I admittedly wasn’t really doing it the “proper” way – which would’ve been to remove all of the wood trim around the doors in the sunroom and (theoretically) slide the frames right out with ease. But some of the frames were so warped that I wasn’t sure they’d easily slide out even if I spent hours ripping off all the trim first. So I just kind of manhandled my way through it while keeping the trim in place. There was some twisted metal to show for it, but it did the trick. And since we couldn’t donate those frames since they were the broken parts of the doors anyway, it all worked out.

There’s still a long way to go (more on that in a second) but we’re both CRAZY excited about the change. I wish I could convey how liberating it is to walk freely between these two spaces now, no longer having to wrestle a stuck door to do so. I feel like we’ve reclaimed a whole portion of our deck that we previously didn’t touch because of the wall of immobile glass.

We joked that we should start calling it the “veranda” to mark its evolution from the typical sunroom that we’re used to. And perhaps that fancier term will lend a sense of polish that the space will lack during this in-between phase. We just have to remember to say veranda, and not verdana (which is a typeface, not a covered porch).

So it looks like this’ll be our first big makeover here at the new house (aside from laying all of that hardwood flooring upstairs before moving in). As usual, we’re planning to tackle it in nice bite-sized steps – and hopefully we can knock a lot of it out before the temperature drops too much. Here’s the tentative plan:

  • Rip up the old carpeting
  • Remove the sliding doors and tracks to open things up
  • Add fresh casing to the openings and caulk like crazy (to make up for the waterproofing that the old door frames provided)
  • Possibly loft the ceiling and install painted beadboard up there if the structure allows for it (see this photo for inspiration)
  • Add a hanging ceiling fan (or two?) and possibly recessed lighting
  • Repaint the columns and interior of the sunroom with exterior paint
  • Tile the floors with something outdoor-safe (we’ve already been poking around a few tile places…)
  • Get a rug, furniture, and maybe even add some outdoor curtains?
  • Build an outdoor fireplace like this down the line

Oh, and one last minor thing that we took care of right away was to swap out all of the outlets for covered outdoor outlets. Don’t want rain shorting out any electrical stuff in there! Thankfully the walls aren’t drywall (they’re all wood painted with exterior paint) since we believe this room was once a covered porch before someone made it a sunroom – so when we add that casing to the door openings and caulk everything, the room will be all sealed up and weather resistant again.

Psst – Cassie over at Hi Sugarplum played 20 questions with Sherry, so you can read all about her weirdest quirks, her current cell phone ringtone, and her favorite Halloween candy.

Comments

  1. says

    Um, I love that inspiration photo! The first think I thought of was how great it would be if you one day added a two-sided fireplace.
    The post-demo photos look great. I think I may be equally as excited as you two for this space!

    • Amy K says

      I was totally thinking the two sided fireplace too, that way you can use it for nice dinners at the table or enjoy inside that beautiful open space. Love the updates!!
      I’ve also heard great things about fire rocks :)

  2. Jayme says

    Sherry- Kudos on the idea! John- so glad you went along with it, I am incredibly impressed with the “after picture” it just blew your deck space wide open! Can’t wait to see the next steps!

  3. Kate says

    I really like the change. I think it will be neat once complete! Question – do you worry at all about it devaluing the space? I don’t have any knowledge on the subject, just thinking that making a previously indoor space outdoor could be a detractor to some. Did you worry about that at all? Are you guys putting as much interest into value with this house as your last ones?

    • says

      Good question! We’re in love with this house, so we can’t see ourselves selling anytime soon (I want to die here, haha!) but we also have plans to finish the storage space above the garage (we want to turn that into a family room/bunkroom down the line) so we’ll actually be adding more square footage than removing the old sliding doors took away. We have high hopes that in the end this change will rock for our family as well as making the house look better for resale down the line (even though you’d have to pry it out of my cold dead hands!).

      xo
      s

    • Heather says

      I was kind of thinking the same thing except “was this space even permitted as an indoor space?” If it wasn’t then it might not even be able to be counted as square footage of the house any way!

  4. Rachel says

    I am SO IN LOVE with this makeover. You guys. It might be my favorite of your projects thus far! That’s saying a LOT, I know!… but the potential here is just AMAZING!! What a fantastic idea. “Open & glorious” indeed!!

  5. says

    Oh wow. Actually, that is a BIG WOW! This looks so different and I can totally imagine sitting in your covered veranda sipping on a classy drink. This is the prefect time of year to do it too, since a lot of outdoor furniture and rugs are on clearance right now!

  6. Sarah says

    I’m pressuring my hubby to build me one of these on the back of our new house off of the living room but he’s hesitant because he thinks its going to make the (expensive) wall of windows a mute point. He thinks that the living room will be really shaded/dark/claustrophobic. Do you get enough light through this space that its not a cave inside?

    • says

      The living room’s not a cave, but it’s definitely a lot less bright than all of the other rooms since it essentially has a giant awning off of the back of it instead of sunlight streaming in like the rest of the rooms do. Although it’s kind of nice for a TV room since we don’t have to worry about window glare blocking our shows. Haha!

      xo
      s

  7. liz says

    I love this idea and cannot wait to see how it turns out. Like most of your projects, I am sure it is going to be amazing.