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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Screen the Porch All Year Round

Screen the Porch for More Living Room (Almost) All Year

Make the Most of Three Seasons With a Personal, Bug-Free Outdoor Oasis


If you are looking to expand your home and create a wonderful space you'll get great use of for three seasons, consider adding a screened-in porch. It's much cheaper, quicker, and easier to add than a regular room, as it doesn't usually require a foundation, insulation or HVAC systems. It's a spot where you will be able to enjoy fresh air and feel closer to nature without being eaten alive by mosquitos or fearing a visit from that 40-pound opossum who lives under your deck. I've included styles below from Eastern coastal to Western mountains, and traditional to modern — a little screened-in porch action for everyone.
Mmmm, crisp and fresh New England air, comfy seats, and a woodstove to keep you warm while you look out at the spectacular view. What a perfect spot.
I can testify that I LIVE on my screened-in porch in spring, summer and fall (except when I am driven indoors by the cacophony of leaf blowers in Atlanta — would someone please make those illegal?).

My general contractor (and brother), Clark Harris, says to "expect a screened-in porch to take about 2-4 weeks for your builder to complete." Still on the fence? "You'll get much more use out of it than you would a deck," he says, "as it will protect you from rain and mosquitoes."

Tip: If your porch is atop an elevated deck, have your builder screen beneath the floorboards to keep little bugs from crawling up in between the boards.
Now I must warn those of you who are obsessed with resale value that in this housing market, don't count on getting the money you put into a screened-in porch back out of the house. However, real estate broker Gerald Dunn in this discussion on Trulia says, "the porch may make your property more attractive to a buyer in the future. It will separate yours from the competition and may make your home easier to sell."
If sideways rain is likely to hit your furnishings, weatherproof rugs and fabrics are a good idea. Add furniture with comfortable cushions for long chats, side tables for sweet tea, and good lighting for reading.
Another great benefit of a screened-in porch is that it provides a bug-free spot to enjoy a meal in the fresh air. It's like a picnic without ants. And without having to sit on the ground. And with running water two rooms away ... wait, why do people go on picnics?
A porch is a great place to be free and easy with your decor. The Dear Daisy Cottage's porch has scads bright colors and potting-shed charm.
Don't feel hemmed in by a preconceived notion of porch furniture. Mirrors, sconces and a console bring indoor style to this indoor/outdoor space.
Tip: If you have children or pets who like to run through screens, consider starting the screens at chair-rail height. It will save you a lot of money on replacement costs, and if your porch is off the ground at all, it's a must for childproofing.
Skylights can add more natural light to this covered space during the day and provide a nice night sky view after dark.

Tip:If possible, keep the flooring consistent from indoors to out. Here, this move connects the screened-in porch to the outdoor patio and eases the transition between the two spaces.
If you don't have an available space the size of a typical square room for your porch, don't fret; lots of different dimensions can work. Long daybeds take advantage of this long and narrow seaside screened-in porch.
Extend your porch's seasonal life with the help of ceiling fans to cool the hotter days, and a fireplace to warm chilly nights.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about porch style; this porch is full of Southwestern flavor. Careful attention was paid to the material palette, including the painted brick wall, the large varied stones on the floor and the rich wood ceiling.
This porch is a bit more rugged Western style, with large timbers overhead, log walls, and antlers as an accent. Even the dining chairs look like they were hewn from sturdy trees from around the property.
This large porch celebrates family and friends spending time together, with comfortable seating and games readily available for those who gather here.
This North Carolina screened-in porch is a relaxing pavilion in the trees. I imagine many great naps take place on the hanging bed.
This modern space was added onto an historic cottage, which created a room for eating, relaxing and gathering. The sheers add a layer of soft texture and movement, and the dark painted ceiling adds to the tranquility of the room.
We'll save the exteriors of these spaces for another day, but here's a teaser. New construction is a real opportunity to incorporate a screened-in porch into the design of your home. This screened-in porch and the covered balcony above it are carved out of this facade as one cohesive piece.

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