KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fall is a great season for a screened porch. Spring is equally a wonderful time of year for a porch, and even summer can be enjoyable.
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 newspaper. 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 screened porch feel part of the home, I like sliding doors. A four-panel sliding door unit with two doors that slide and two that stay fixed creates a doorway 5 to 6 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 need 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 smidge to allow fresh air is a bonus because it is easier than opening a swing door and using a door stop, which is pretty much required in the windy Midwest.
Doors between the house and porch don't need screen doors because the porch provides screening.
Location, location, location — a screened porch will block sunlight from interior rooms. Ideally the room with doors to the porch has windows on adjacent walls to allow natural light.
Although a wrap-around porch may seem intriguing, it can create dark interior rooms by limiting sunlight. Southeast is the preferred side to allow light in 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 and 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 spring returns. Keep in mind while shopping what furniture, fabrics and even rugs will need protection and think about where they will be stored during those winter days.
Sometimes a client is tempted to want the ability to use a screened porch year-round by installing windows. Honestly, this isn't the same as it becomes a sunroom or another room with many windows and the semi-outdoor atmosphere 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 use is a welcome addition.
Adding a screened porch can make a house feel spacious with its sunlight, fresh air and nature sounds creating a completely different kind of space.