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The Summer Living Room: 17 Airy Screened-In Porches

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The Summer Living Room: 17 Airy Screened-In Porches

September 4, 2023

This week, we are revisiting some of our favorite summer-centric Gardenista stories. Remember this one?

Screened-in porches are making a comeback, a trend we applaud. After years of dwindling popularity, porches are back on young homebuyers’ lists of “Most Wanted” features, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. Among Millennials, a front porch is more prized than hardwood floors, a master bath with both a shower and tub, or a dining room. And with good reason.

A screened-in porch is your summer living room. It’s a neighborly space, inviting breezes and greetings from passersby. And it’s an iconically American architectural feature. Before the 1860s, “there was no hint (or probably dream of) making a house flyproof,” writes Russell Lynes in The Domesticated Americans. Then, during the Civil War a manufacturer of wire mesh sieves miscalculated demand; the surplus was repurposed and sold as window covering. By the 1880s, screened-in porches were a trend.

In support of the screened-in porch, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorites from around the country:

Connecticut

Above: Remodelista contributor Christine Chang Hanway had the porch at her summer home screened-in for a mosquito-free outdoor room. Photograph by Christine Chang Hanway, from The Architects Are In: Minimal Moves for Maximum Impact in Christine’s Connecticut House.

Shelter Island, NY

A hammock is the perfect minimalist accessory for this light and bright porch. Photograph by Dana Gallagher, styling by Hilary Robertson, for Farmhouse Refresh: An Antiques Dealer’s Clean and Simple Family Retreat on Shelter Island.
Above: A hammock is the perfect minimalist accessory for this light and bright porch. Photograph by Dana Gallagher, styling by Hilary Robertson, for Farmhouse Refresh: An Antiques Dealer’s Clean and Simple Family Retreat on Shelter Island.

Bellport, New York

Above: The sun porch of architect Elizabeth Roberts’ Bellport summer home opens into the pool and backyard. Photograph by Dustin Aksland and Eric Striffler, courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts, from Elizabeth Roberts at Home: The Architect’s Own Beach House in Bellport, NY.

Charleston, South Carolina

Above: The screened-in porch in this Workstead-designed project opens to the rear of the house and is outfitted with a vintage rattan porch furniture set, an Emerson Black Industrial Ceiling Fan, and the Harford Pendant by Steven Gambrel for Urban Electric. Photograph by Matthew Williams, courtesy of Workstead, from Southern Modern in Charleston: A Fresh Take on the Old South from Workstead.

Healdsburg, California

Above: A screened dining porch by architect Malcolm Davis overlooks the pool. Both the decking and screen frame are made of rot-resistant ipe wood, while the building’s framing lumber is Douglas fir. Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Davis, from Swimming Pool of the Week: A Rustic Family Campground—with a Lap Pool.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

A simple timber frame screened porch is an homage to a nearby Cape Cod house built by homeowner Miranda Heller&#8\2\17;s grandfather, the self-taught modernist architect Jack Phillips. Heller&#8\2\17;s porch is an addition to a \19th-century barn that was moved uphill to its current site a century or so after it was built. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista, from Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.
Above: A simple timber frame screened porch is an homage to a nearby Cape Cod house built by homeowner Miranda Heller’s grandfather, the self-taught modernist architect Jack Phillips. Heller’s porch is an addition to a 19th-century barn that was moved uphill to its current site a century or so after it was built. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista, from Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.

San Antonio, Texas

A breeze-capturing screened pavilion from San Antonio, Texas-based Poteet Architects has a rough-hewn timber frame and a covered entry platform for shade and rain protection. Photograph by Chris Cooper, from Architect Visit: Screened Porch by Poteet Architects in San Antonio, Texas.
Above: A breeze-capturing screened pavilion from San Antonio, Texas-based Poteet Architects has a rough-hewn timber frame and a covered entry platform for shade and rain protection. Photograph by Chris Cooper, from Architect Visit: Screened Porch by Poteet Architects in San Antonio, Texas.

Nashville, Tennessee

Above: This screened porch is one of four porches in this home. “It is a bit unusual to build so many porches on a new residence as budget constraints and modern air conditioning usually rule out all but the most modest examples,” says the architect. “However, the desire to live indoors/outdoors made them essential.” Photography by Ruth and Marcus Di Pietro, from The Architect Is In: Romancing the Country in Nashville, Music and Porches Included.

Montana

In western Montana, on the southern shore of the biggest freshwater water lake west of the Mississippi River Texas-based architects Andersson-Wise designed a cabin on stilts with a living room that doubles as screened porch. Photograph courtesy of Andersson-Wise, from Into the Woods: A Cabin on Flathead Lake.
Above: In western Montana, on the southern shore of the biggest freshwater water lake west of the Mississippi River Texas-based architects Andersson-Wise designed a cabin on stilts with a living room that doubles as screened porch. Photograph courtesy of Andersson-Wise, from Into the Woods: A Cabin on Flathead Lake.

Rhinebeck, NY

 Architects Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown’s screened porch at their weekend place in Rhinebeck, New York has  pleasing blend of green walls (so dark they border on Gothic) and midcentury Danish antiques. Photograph by Richard Powers for Tsao & McKown Architects, from Steal This Look: The Perfect Screened Porch.
Above: Architects Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown’s screened porch at their weekend place in Rhinebeck, New York has  pleasing blend of green walls (so dark they border on Gothic) and midcentury Danish antiques. Photograph by Richard Powers for Tsao & McKown Architects, from Steal This Look: The Perfect Screened Porch.

Hudson Valley, NY

A three-story screened porch has a swing on the top level and a table and chairs for dining on the middle level. The sauna is at ground level at the bottom of a slope. Photograph by Reto Guntli, courtesy of BarlisWedlick Architects, from  Architect Visit: A Natural Pool and Passive House in New York&#8\2\17;s Hudson Valley.
Above: A three-story screened porch has a swing on the top level and a table and chairs for dining on the middle level. The sauna is at ground level at the bottom of a slope. Photograph by Reto Guntli, courtesy of BarlisWedlick Architects, from  Architect Visit: A Natural Pool and Passive House in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Lamoine, Maine

A screened porch is oriented toward the water views and has a perimeter French drain, in a garden designed by Massachusetts-based landscape architect Matthew Cunningham. Photograph by Matthew Cunningham, from Landscape Architect Visit: Clamshell Alley on the Coast of Maine.
Above: A screened porch is oriented toward the water views and has a perimeter French drain, in a garden designed by Massachusetts-based landscape architect Matthew Cunningham. Photograph by Matthew Cunningham, from Landscape Architect Visit: Clamshell Alley on the Coast of Maine.

Connecticut

Above: The screened porch can become a glazed porch and becomes usable for three seasons; sometimes even in the winter when the weather is mild, which gives the family more space during the winter and yet retaining its airiness in the summer. Photograph by Michael Moran, from The Architect Is In: Porch Appreciation in Connecticut.

The Catskills, NY

 Design team Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co. rescued a nondescript and unloved screened porch in the Catskills–and made it magical. Photograph courtesy of Jersey Ice Cream Co., from Before & After: A Summer Porch Rehab in Upstate New York.
Above: Design team Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co. rescued a nondescript and unloved screened porch in the Catskills–and made it magical. Photograph courtesy of Jersey Ice Cream Co., from Before & After: A Summer Porch Rehab in Upstate New York.

Connecticut

Above: “The decision to screen the porch was pretty obvious,” says architect Rafe Churchill. “Not only can it get pretty buggy after sunset but also the screening of the porch really adds to the intimacy of the space and allows for sleeping in the open air.” Photograph by John Gruen, from The Architect Is In: The New Connecticut Farm, Sustainable Edition.

Llano River, Texas

 Austin-based interior designer Ann Edgerton designed a screened porch with a soft bohemian look using vintage rattan furniture, Moroccan accents, and bright textiles. “I wanted to create a place you can grow into with new textiles and plants,” she says. Photograph by Molly Winters courtesy of Ann Edgerton, from Steal This Look: A Bohemian Screened Porch in Texas.
Above: Austin-based interior designer Ann Edgerton designed a screened porch with a soft bohemian look using vintage rattan furniture, Moroccan accents, and bright textiles. “I wanted to create a place you can grow into with new textiles and plants,” she says. Photograph by Molly Winters courtesy of Ann Edgerton, from Steal This Look: A Bohemian Screened Porch in Texas.

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published July 2020.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a screened-in porch?

A screened-in porch is an outdoor living space that is enclosed with screens or mesh to protect it from insects and other outdoor elements while allowing fresh air to flow in.

What are the benefits of a screened-in porch?

Some benefits of a screened-in porch include protection from bugs, mosquitoes, and other pests, enjoying the outdoors without direct sun exposure, and creating an additional living space for relaxation and entertainment.

How can I decorate my screened-in porch?

You can decorate your screened-in porch with comfortable seating options like outdoor sofas or lounge chairs, add potted plants for a touch of greenery, incorporate outdoor rugs for added coziness, and consider hanging string lights for a magical ambiance during evenings.

Can I use my screened-in porch during all seasons?

While a screened-in porch provides an enclosed space, it may not be suitable for extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, strong winds, or snow. However, with appropriate modifications and accessories like outdoor heaters or ceiling fans, you can extend the usability of your screened-in porch.

What materials are commonly used for screened-in porches?

Common materials used for screened-in porches include aluminum frames, wooden frames, fiberglass screens, and vinyl-coated polyester screens. The choice of materials depends on personal preference, budget, and desired durability.

What are some ideas for furnishing a screened-in porch?

Some ideas for furnishing a screened-in porch include using weather-resistant furniture, incorporating outdoor curtains for added privacy, installing a ceiling fan for air circulation, and placing a dining table or bar stools for outdoor dining or entertaining.

How can I maintain my screened-in porch?

To maintain your screened-in porch, regularly clean the screens from dust and debris, inspect for any tears or damage, trim nearby plants that may obstruct the screens, and consider applying a protective sealant on wooden frames to prevent weathering.

Can I convert my existing porch into a screened-in porch?

Yes, it is possible to convert an existing porch into a screened-in porch. This may involve installing screens, adding support beams if necessary, and ensuring the porch structure is suitable for the conversion. Consulting a professional contractor is recommended for such projects.

Are permits required for adding a screened-in porch?

Permit requirements may vary based on local building codes and regulations. It is advisable to check with your local authorities or building department to determine if permits are required for adding a screened-in porch to your property.

Can I use my screened-in porch for sleeping or as a bedroom?

Screened-in porches are not typically designed or insulated for use as sleeping areas or bedrooms. They are primarily intended as outdoor living spaces for relaxation, entertaining, and enjoying the surrounding environment.

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