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Outdoor Living: Screened in Spaces

Once again it’s the time of year when we shift our activities and living spaces from indoors to outdoors. The options for outdoor living spaces have boomed over the last decade, with myriad options for layouts, products and features. But one tried and true space is perhaps the best combination of indoor/outdoor living, and that is the screened in porch.

This second-floor, screened in porch provides the perfect connection point between the home’s indoor and outdoor space.

In the southeast, screened in porches have a long legacy. Once used as “sleeping porches” they were the answer to the hot, humid summer nights – a perfect place to enjoy fresh air and a gentle breeze without the blazing sun or relentless bugs. The advent of air conditioning did nothing to decrease their popularity, however. In 2020 Kiplinger reported that outdoor living spaces are the third most important feature for home buyers with 87% of buyers saying this was a critical aspect of their new home.

87% of home buyers consider an outdoor living space to be a priority in their next house.

Screened in porches offer a wide variety of benefits beyond keeping bugs at bay. In milder climates they can truly be three to four season spaces with the roof, framing and even screening providing a moderate amount of “insulation” against less ideal weather. In addition to bugs, screened in porches will keep other critters at bay so you don’t have to worry about birds, squirrels, reptiles or anything else damaging furniture and other items. And a screened in porch is the ideal place to watch southern summer thunderstorms.

Thanks to the extra protection that a screened-in porch provides, features can be added that may not be an option with open-air or uncovered outdoor areas. Some popular features we’ve been seeing include outdoor televisions, heaters and ceiling fans. There are also many more options for furniture and decor in a screened-in porch, as you don’t need to be as concerned with fabrics getting wet or fading with sun exposure. Although humidity and the occasional severe weather should be considered, for the most part a screened in porch can sustain indoor/outdoor materials and items. You can also include more soft furnishings such as throw pillows and blankets for a super cozy feel.

This screened porch takes advantage of the extra protection and uses indoor and outdoor furniture to create a true living and dining space.

Because a screened in porch is generally attached to the main home on at least one side, adding electricity to the space is much easier. If constructing a new screened in porch, speak with your contractor about the ideal places to put outlets and fixtures. Sometimes the best place for an outlet is the floor, so cords are not running through walkways and can be concealed with furniture. Floor outlets make outdoor lamps a great addition for multiple mood lighting options as well. Mini air conditioners are also a consideration for hotter climates. There are systems that are specially made for these purposes, and your contractor should be consulted on what will work best for your specific situation.

Floor outlets were installed in this stone floor so that lamps and other electronics could be safely used throughout the space.

When building a new screened in porch, consider the flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The indoor space should be a logical connection point such as a kitchen or living room. This will make it easier to truly flow from indoor to outdoor living and is also extremely helpful when entertaining.

The flow from this home’s kitchen to the screened-in porch is ideal for entertaining and dining.

If you have a two-story home, also consider how a second-floor screened-in porch may work better for your home’s layout than a traditional ground-level build. This can also have the added benefit of more privacy and better views.

This second-floor porch provides a much better vantage point of the river than the ground floor would have.

And for the animal lovers, don’t forget to plan a space on your porch for your furfriend. Screened in porches are a great, safe way to enjoy time outside with your pet. A bed or perch and water bowl will make their experience as comfortable as yours.