Herb Lagois

A bright house is a happy house


As I write this in very early Spring, I’m admiring the sun as it filters into our sunroom. I see the glistening snow outside, still clinging to tree branches.

I’m happy to be indoors, because it’s -20c. outside. I’m comfortable. And yes, I’m procrastinating a little. It’s just so nice to be here.

I’m realizing how wonderful and how important indoor-outdoor integration is. I’m thinking about how many homes in Ottawa could benefit from this simple pleasure.

Our home, like most traditional homes, did not take advantage of the outdoors when it was built, and yours may not have, either.

There’s an important visual aspect to our world outdoors. When we’re seated, how often do we strain to look over window sills? How often do we look outside and see a wall?

And there’s a practical aspect. Is getting to the rear yard a challenge? Do we need to navigate around furniture and through spaces?

There’s the way a house feels, too. Even when it’s sunny outside, does the house feel dark?

Ours did!

Our solution was to create a space with floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings and reflective flooring – literally, a sunroom.

What a difference it made! It’s more than a sun room. It’s also our family room because it’s the space our family gravitates to.

The interior of the existing home is much brighter than before. Even the night time views are spectacular.

Naturally, adding spaces needs to be justified. If there is no need to add more space, there is no point in adding more. But, through design, there is always great “space” potential within existing spaces by opening up “compartments”, providing efficient outdoor access – by simply introducing natural light. (In our climate, a three-season space could be a great option.)

If you are considering renovating or adding space, there are many factors to consider – for instance, heat loss, heat gain, mechanical system capacity, aesthetics, spatial planning, bylaws, costs. An experienced design professional or firm has the ability to take the entire home into consideration − to take a holistic design approach. (For instance: Do we really want to tear out what we did two years ago to accomplish what we want now?)

It’s prudent to have a RenoMark™ renovator involved early in the design process to ensure feasibility and budget reality. (RenoMark™ design-build firms typically offer both services together.)

When you’re hiring designers and renovators, be sure to check their qualifications. What credentials do they have? Are they members of GOHBA (Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association)? Are they RenoMark™ members? Are they insured? How long have they been in business? Are they involved within the community? Are they suited for your project? As exciting as the process is, be sure to get everything in writing. (For more information about this, visit the Canadian Home Builders’ Association: http://www.hiringacontractor.com/en/index.html)

Our sunroom/family room addition is one of the best decisions we have made. The outdoors is integrated into our home, and therefore into our daily lives. Even on cloudy days our home is bright – especially the existing spaces. Our home is a happy home.

Best of all, our sunroom is a great place to kick back, do nothing, procrastinate… and enjoy the beauty of the day.