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How solarium kit replaced aging wooden porch

If you want to bring more of the outdoors to a city dwelling, you might take a lead from home expert Ben Lloyd, who added a glass and aluminum greenhouse to the back of his 1860s Brooklyn townhouse.

Mr. Lloyd uses the addition as an old-fashioned solarium in which to house and grow many plants. It also performs as another light-filled living area, where he likes to spend leisure time and have meals occasionally, since it opens directly off both his kitchen and dining room. The glass structure replaced the dark and sagging enclosed wooden porch that was an original part of the house.

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Although Mr. Lloyd did not add a steam radiator to his new addition last winter, as he had intended, the space stayed comfortably warm from normal house heat and sunlight. Because the solarium faces due east and not south, he says, it is not the ideal solar collector. The tight fit of the unit helps it retain heat, as well as the fact that all the glass areas are double glazed.

''Having lived with my greenhouse for some months now, all I can say is that it is a super addition,'' Mr. Lloyd says.

Components of Mr. Lloyd's greenhouse, which cost $6,000, came in a kit. The unit is supposed to be reasonably easy to put together, but Mr. Lloyd and those who helped him did not find it to be a snap. However, a professional can install it, but this can add from $1,000 to $1,800 to the kit's original cost.

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