What Is a Solarium?

Solarium with patio furniture

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A solarium may sound like a specialized structure, rather than a type of addition that can be added to almost any home. But the reality is that this simple addition is a great option for adding more light and living space to your home. Learn more about what separates a solarium from a sunroom and how to design this unique, light-filled space. 

What Is a Solarium? 

At its core, a solarium is an additional room with walls and a roof that are completely made of glass. These rooms are often attached directly to a house, although some are freestanding structures. 

A solarium can be used for multiple purposes. Some are used as extra living space or for entertaining. These spaces include cozy features such as lounging chairs, a sofa, or even a hammock if you wish to emulate an outdoor feeling. Others are used as a sunny dining space and include a dining table or a small breakfast table.

Because of the ample sunshine coming in, solariums can also be used in a similar way as a greenhouse and for growing a multitude of popular houseplants. Whatever this room is used for, its main goal is to create a space with as much natural light as possible, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors while still being inside.  

Types of Sunrooms

The terms solarium, sunroom, and conservatory are sometimes used interchangeably but these are all different forms of sunrooms. A true sunroom, also known as a Florida room, is a room with walls that are made up mostly of windows. However, the frame and roof are made out of traditional building materials that match the rest of the home. A solarium, as mentioned above, is a room whose walls and roof are made from glass. A conservatory is similar, as its walls and roof are also made of glass. However, a conservatory has extra features that include things like gutters, finials, or decorative molding. Think of a more ornate solarium, and you have a conservatory. A freestanding greenhouse is also considered a type of sunroom, although these structures are used solely for growing plants.  

  • Florida room (also referred to as a true sunroom)
  • Solarium
  • Conservatory
  • Greenhouse

Design Tips for a Solarium

With an all-glass design, solariums can seem like tricky rooms to decorate. However, by keeping in mind its purpose, you can eliminate the uncertainty. First and foremost, a solarium’s purpose is to invite in as much sunlight as possible. Therefore, keep decorations open and airy, and avoid overly tall or heavy-looking furniture that will block the view to the outside. 

It is also important to consider the durability of the decor and furnishings you select. While solariums are technically inside spaces, their all-glass structure makes these spaces act more like greenhouses than living rooms. Therefore, when it is cold outside, the inside of a solarium will get much chillier than the rest of the home. The same is true when it is hot outside; the solarium will be hotter than the rest of the home. When choosing furniture and decor, be sure they are made from a durable material that can withstand changing temperatures and an abundance of sun exposure. 

  • What is the purpose of a solarium?

    The main goal of a solarium is to invite in as much sunlight as possible, creating a space to enjoy the outdoors while being inside. Solariums can be used as living areas, dining rooms, or places to grow plants. 

  • What are the differences between a solarium and a sunroom?

    While solariums and sunrooms are often referred to as the same thing, they are not. Solariums have walls and a roof that are completely made of glass. Sunrooms, on the other hand, have a frame and roof that is built from traditional building materials, not glass.

  • Can you live in a solarium?

    Because solariums are made entirely of glass, it is not practical to live in one. These structures lack the privacy and climate control that a home offers, making them both inconvenient and uncomfortable to live in. However, solariums make excellent additions to a home and can expand the living space available.