An article from the the Kansas City Star I wrote about Screened Porches!
Fall is a great season for a screened porch. Spring is equally a wonderful season for a porch and even summer can be an enjoyable season! Currently 90% of my home design projects include a screen porch for clients. Why are screened porches so appealing? A screened porch can provide a bug free, fresh air yet dry space to enjoy anything from dinner with friends to a quiet place for coffee while reading the paper. After a busy day working inside, even a few moments spent on a porch can provide a welcome chance to reconnect with nature.
To make a screen porch feel part of home I like to use sliding doors. A four panel sliding door unit with two doors that slide and two that stay fixed creates a doorway of five to six feet wide that makes the porch feel connected to the adjacent room. It is perfect for entertaining when an extra table space might be needed but everyone can still overhear what is happening inside. This additional space easily can make a cozy room feel just right when filled with guests. Sliding doors don’t take door swing space in either the porch or room which helps furniture layouts on comfy porches. Being able to open a sliding door just a smidgen to allow fresh air in is also a bonus as it easier than opening a swing door and using a door stop which is pretty much required here in the windy Midwest. Doors between the house and porch also don’t need screen doors since the porch provides the screening proving easy clear access.
Location, location, location, a screen porch will block sunlight into the adjacent rooms. Ideally the room with doors to the porch has windows on adjacent walls to allow natural light. Although a wraparound porch may seem intriguing it can create dark interior rooms by limiting sunlight. Southeast is the preferred location to allow light throughout the day but not the harsh west light. The porch roof overhang needs to be studied to see what works well to block summer sun but allow late fall, early spring light.
Having always lived in a four season climate I appreciate fall yet realize that winter is around the corner. As much work as it is to winterize a porch by hauling cushions and even furniture inside, it is equally exciting to bring it back when the warm spring weather returns. Keep in mind while shopping what furniture, fabrics and even rugs will need protected and where they will be stored if necessary during those winter days.
Sometimes a client is tempted to want the ability to use a screen porch year round by installing windows. Honestly it isn’t the same as it becomes a sunroom or another room with many windows and the outdoor feel can be greatly diminished. Feeling a breeze roll though on a screened porch on a quiet fall evening is definitely a treat, and for those warm, still days a ceiling fan built for exterior (wet and wind) use is a welcome addition! Adding a screen porch can make a house feel spacious with it’s unique features of sunlight, fresh air and nature sounds creating a completely different feeling space altogether. A screen porch provides the perfect place to be thankful for our Kansas City fall days.