Launch Slideshow

Sunny Sitting Areas

Sunny Sitting Areas

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    2008 CHDA Merit Award: Custom Home Less Than 3,000 Square Feet Aquinnah, Mass., Residence Entrant/Architect: Hutker Architects, Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Builder: Perry Construction Co., Oak Bluffs, Mass. Operable transoms allow for cross-ventilation and help frame the watery horizon. Cable bracing at the center window helps resist wind loads.

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    Warren Jagger Photography

    2010 CHDA Custom Home of the Year Connors House, Westwood, Mass. Entrant/Architect: Estes/Twombly Architects, Newport, R.I.; Builder: Old Grove Partners, Needham, Mass. The breakfast area occupies a south- and west-facing bay off the kitchen.

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    Bruce Damonte

    2009 CHDA Grand Award: Custom Home / 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet Laidley Street Residence, San Francisco Entrant/Architect: Zack / de Vito Architecture, San Francisco; Builder: Built Form Construction, San Francisco Postcard views of San Francisco serve as the living room's main decoration.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    2008 CHDA Merit Award: Custom Home More Than 5,000 Square Feet Mount Desert Island, Maine, Residence Entrant/Architect: Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, Boston; Builder: Al Jensen, Dixmont, Maine A sun-filled corridor brings light into the first-floor rooms and is a source of passive solar warmth.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    2010 CHDA Merit Award / 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet Sugar Mill, Chilmark, Mass. Entrant/Architect:Hutker Architects, Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Builder: Johnson Vineyard Builders, Vineyard Haven A sunny alcove offers viewful seating in the mater suite.

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    Dominique Vorillon

    2011 CHDA Custom Bath Ridgeline House Bath, Pasadena, Calif. Entrant/Architect: Montalba Architects, Santa Monica, Calif.; Builder: Sarlan Builders, Beverly Hills, Calif. Frosted glass panels enclose a private outdoor space lit from above by large roof opening.

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    Lara Swimmer Photography

    On Site July/August 2012 Rural Renewal Builder: Burdg, Dunham and Associates, Hamilton, Mo.; Architect: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Minneapolis The worn blue door, found in a local warehouse, marks a service entrance between the kitchen and orangery.

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    On Site November/December 2005 Waiting for the Weekend Architect: Historical Concepts, Carleston, S.C.; Builder: Monty Jones, This weekend home allots as much space to this splendid screened porch as it does to kitchen, dining, and living functions combined.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    2007 CHDA Custom Kitchen / Grand Award Falmouth, Mass., Residence Architect/Interior designer: Hutker Architects, Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Builder: Carpenters & Company, Vineyard Haven

  • The sunrooms glazed overhead door opens onto a private rooftop deck.

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    The sunrooms glazed overhead door opens onto a private rooftop deck.

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    Dana Wheelock

    Residential Architect November-December 2011
    New Heights
    Architect: Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Minneapolis General Contractor: Choice Wood Co., St. Louis Park, Minn.

    The sunroom’s glazed overhead door opens onto a private rooftop deck.
  • A wall of glass doors connects the main living space and the garden.

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    A wall of glass doors connects the main living space and the garden.

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    Dean Kaufman

    2012 rada custom / 3,000 square feet or less / merit
    b+w house, minneapolis
    architect: Julie Snow, FAIA, Julie Snow Architects; general contractor: Mike Wallein, Daiku Corp., Oakdale, Minn.; landscape architects: Matt Olson and Mike Brady, ROLU, rosenlof/lucas, Minneapolis

    A wall of glass doors connects the main living space and the garden.
  • The client requested open, loft-like spaces that can accommodate large parties.

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    The client requested open, loft-like spaces that can accommodate large parties.

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    Paul Finkel

    2011 rada Custom / More Than 3,000 Square Feet / Merit
    East Windsor Residence, Austin, Texas
    principal in charge: Kevin Alter, Alterstudio Architects; project team: Ernesto Cragnolino, AIA, and Russell Krepart, Alterstudio Architects; general contractor: Don Crowell, Crowell+, Austin, Texas

    The client requested open, loftlike spaces that can accommodate large parties.
  • Cedar louvers outside the living room filter the high southern sunlight.

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    Cedar louvers outside the living room filter the high southern sunlight.

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    Nic Lehoux

    2011 rada Custom / 3,000 Square Feet or Less / Merit
    Port Townsend Residence, Port Townsend, Wash.
    principal in charge: Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; project manager: David Guthrie, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; general contractor: Pete Crocker, Crocker Construction, Seattle

    Cedar louvers outside the living room filter the high southern sunlight.
  • The ground floor features dark radiant-heated Ardex expoxy floors.

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    The ground floor features dark radiant-heated Ardex expoxy floors.

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    Paul Warchol

    2010 rada custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    black white residence, bethesda, md.
    principal in charge: David Jameson, FAIA, David Jameson Architect, www.davidjamesonarchitect.com; project designer: Christopher Cabacar, David Jameson Architect; general contractor: Michael T. Puskar, M.T. Puskar Construction Co., Manassas, Va.;

    The ground floor features dark radiant-heated Ardex expoxy floors.
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    2009 RADA architectural interiors / merit chuckanut drive residence, bellingham, wash.
    principal in charge / design partner: Bob Hull, FAIA, The Miller|Hull Partnership; project architect: Jed Edeler, AIA, The Miller|Hull Partnership; general contractor: Emerald Builders, Bellingham, Wash.

    Floor-to-ceiling wood windows maximize water views from the living room.
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    Paul Warchol

    2009 RADA custom / 3,500 square feet or less / merit
    hooper's island residence, church creek, md.
    principal in charge: David Jameson, FAIA, David Jameson Architect project designer: Ron Southwick, David Jameson Architect general contractor: Elwin Collins, C J & E Construction, Church Creek, Md.

    Recessed glass walls create "view portals" of the salt marsh, pine forest, and river.
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    Aaron Dougherty

    2008 RADA custom / 3,500 square feet or less / merit
    nest house, hurricane valley, ark.
    principal in charge / general contractor: Dan Rockhill, Rockhill and Associates; project architect: David Sain, Rockhill and Associates

    To satisfy its bird-watching clients, Rockhill and Associates placed this glass-filled Arkansas retirement home on a steel-frame perch.
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    Kevin J. Miyazaki

    2007 RADA project of the year
    camouflage house, green lake, wis.
    principals in charge / project architects / landscape designers / interior designers: Brian Johnsen, AIA, and Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, Johnsen Schmaling Architects; general contractor: Jesse Burg, Gale Burg Construction, Malone, Wis.

    Concrete retaining walls rise out of existing rock outcroppings, strengthening the building’s connection to the site.
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    2009 RADA architectural interiors / merit
    piedmont farm, howard county, md.
    principal in charge: Stephen Muse, FAIA, Muse Architects; project architect: R. Warren Short, AIA, LEED AP, Muse Architects; general contractor: George Fritz, Horizon Builders, Crofton, Md.

    Sight lines from interior to exterior help relate the home to the surrounding farmland, while high ceilings and wide openings give it a graceful, stately air.
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    Charles Davis Smith

    2007 RADA renovation / merit
    freezer panel walkout, eulogy, texas
    principal in charge: Dan Shipley, FAIA, Shipley Architects; project designer: Brian Burger, Shipley Architects; general contractors: Shipley Architects and Mark Huss, Eulogy

Cats occasionally know best. Especially when they find that one spot in the house where even on the blusteriest of days you can curl up and feel the warmth of the sun. Creating human-sized versions of that perfect sun spot gives clients a place to enjoy spectacular views or just watch their favorite tree bloom regardless of the weather.

The projects featured in this collection show the benefits of including a glassy room, nook, or corner in environments as varied as snowy mountains, windy beaches, bustling cities, and remote forests on sites ranging from Maine to California. Natural daylighting, passive heating, cross-ventilation, and a beautiful backdrop are some of the advantages generated by concentrating glazing in a single area. All of that, plus the perfect place for a cat nap.

Finding the ideal location in the floor plan and determining the best window placement and quantity are key components to produce a bright bay like the ones in the accompanying slideshow. Architect Mark Hutker designs custom houses primarily in the Cape Cod area in Massachusetts and frequently tries to add a room or alcove in every house that features three translucent walls. He prefers facing at least one window wall toward southern exposures but with long overhangs that block direct southern sun while allowing low winter rays to penetrate and heat the interiors. “If you can get three solar exposures into a room you’re almost guaranteed that it’s going to be a fantastic room all of the time,” he says. “If you’re going to create a space that open, “ he adds, “then you need to consider the view levels and window apertures to make sure muntins or sashes don’t obstruct the horizon.”