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The Sweetleaf Sunroom

When realtor Karen Borden decided it was finally time to snag a listing for herself, she and husband Ron fell in love with a brand new build in the Owen’s Cross Roads community. The spectacular custom home seemed to have it all, but for a busy couple who valued their down time together, there was one thing missing- They simply couldn’t stop thinking about the magical sun room they left behind. Avid bird watchers by day, and cocktail party extraordinaires by night, they longed for a space that could bring the outside in with ample room to host friends. As their dreams of a sun drenched, dual purpose haven began to take shape, they enlisted the help of family friend and designer, Andrea Wilson.

The project posed a few interesting design challenges that Andrea was excited to meet head on. The original exterior of the home featured a small, narrow covered patio with a header beam that would prove too complicated and cost prohibitive to move. Combine this with a 2nd floor dormer that would dictate the design of the new sunroom roof line, and Andrea’s technical skills certainly got a chance to shine! Working hand in hand with a custom builder, she was able to draft a sunroom addition that appeared as if it had always belonged to the home, complete with a lower pitched roof (called a “hip roof”) that left the original dormer window unimpeded. The header beam was also met with equal parts technical problem solving and creativity, as Andrea blended additional beams, beadboard detailing, and an incredible pop of color to create a ceiling that quickly became one of Karen’s favorite design elements in the space.

Above- The sunroom takes shape. Andrea's strategic approach for the new hip roof maintained sight lines and natural lighting for the existing upstairs dormer.

“When I first met with Karen and Ron, they kept talking about their need for more light. I knew the interior needed to be light, bright, and soothing, so that guided the finish selections like the white painted brick,” Andrea stated. The blue ceiling inspiration came by way of a magazine article that captured Andrea early on in the design process. “I saw it and knew a blue was just the pop the sunroom called for, but Ron needed a bit more convincing! It's so important to me when I work on a new project to really get to know my clients. Once I understand their tastes and their lifestyle at home, I can hone in on when to stay in their design comfort zone, and when to stretch a little to achieve those 'wow' moments for them!"

As Karen proudly showed off her new sun room, she laughed about Ron’s initial hesitation noting that “every morning we walk in and admire the color, it just makes the room, and every day he promises me he’ll just trust her next time!”

With creamy whites and a stunning blue established as the new design palette, Andrea went to work incorporating fabrics and finishes that would perform well for a family that included a few four- legged members. Furniture needed to be cleanable and fade resistant to withstand the flood of sunlight beaming in. A stunning LVP floor selection was chosen to flow with the existing hardwoods in the main living spaces. Andrea smartly utilized a support column located in the center of the room to delineate the spaces and their functions. One side of the sun room features an inviting sitting area where the couple enjoy a little TV time and relaxation together with front row views of the bird feeders adorning the backyard beyond. The opposite side of the space is poised for entertaining, boasting a large farmhouse table ready for a charcuterie board, good cocktails, and great friends.

Custom cabinetry designs are one of Andrea’s signatures, and the spectacular built-in bar is a shining example. Rich wood shelving is a perfect textural pop against the brick, while closed storage for serving pieces, table linens, and pantry space to stash extra snacks will do the heavy lifting during parties. And for her final special attention to detail, Andrea created a custom art piece over the bar starring one of the Borden family's beloved dachshund babies!

Above- From concept to completion. Andrea's custom cabinet drawings bring life to a bar area as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional.

The evolution from a dark and virtually unusable enclosed porch, to the gorgeous new light-drenched sunroom fulfilled everything the Borden family was hoping for, and more. The space was tailor-made for entertaining, but is equally comfortable hosting those quiet nights in. And with thoughtfully planned dining and conversation zones layered in durable finishes and textures, this beautiful sunroom will proudly serve hosting duties for years to come!


Above- "Before" While the Sweetleaf house technically had a sunroom, the space was little more than a narrow enclosed porch not at all matching their lifestyle.

Above- "After" Andrea Wilson of Wilhouse Designs brought the Bordens' sunroom wish list to a breathtaking reality.



Design & Project Coordination- Andrea Wilson @ Wilhouse Designs

Construction- Cardinal Construction

Furniture- Bassett

Photography- Urban Lens Studio

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1 Comment

Marijke Powers
Marijke Powers
Aug 04, 2021

Absolutely beautiful and amazing 💙

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