BEFORE/ Several traditional ranch-style homes in North Dallas have one — a solarium designed to create an “outdoor-in” style. But the 1960s trend became outdated and impractical for Preston Hollow residents Ken and Lisa Miller. They have lived in the 3,600-square-foot house for seven years with their three children who attend St. Rita Catholic School, Jesuit Preparatory School and Bishop Lynch High School. “It was wonderful in that it let in lots of natural light,” Ken says. “But it was space that we never used.” And that wasn’t the only problem. Rodents would scurry around on the roof and fall into the open space. “We had flying squirrels,” he says. “And they couldn’t get out, so I would have to go trap them and set them free.” Precipitation also cluttered the area, causing a constant chore for the Millers. They aren’t sure what purpose solariums served decades ago, but Christy Ricketts with Servant Remodeling speculates that people might have used it as a smoking area. “No homebuilder would recommend that today,” she says.

Photo courtesy Servant Remodeling

AFTER/ Both Ken and Lisa work from home, so it made sense to replace the solarium with an office. That also freed up space for their two daughters, who had been sharing a room. The remodelers removed the bulky stone pillars surrounding the solarium and enclosed the space with glass and wood paneling. They lifted the roof and lined the sides with windows. This way the family has more square footage while retaining natural light. Bookshelves extend about 12 feet up the wall, and the room is about 19 feet high. “We think it looks more like an office and a library,” Ken says. For its work on the Miller house, Servant Remodeling won the 2010-2011 Contractor of the Year Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry Greater Dallas Chapter for a residential addition under $100,000. The Millers also renovated their living room, foyer and master bathroom.

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