The Pleasures of a Screened Porch


July 5, 2015 by Jean

screened porchRecently, when I wrote about my hassles in getting my screened gazebo set up on the back deck, a reader commented that she is lucky to have a feature that is common in her part of the country – a screened porch. I don’t know why screened porches are not more common in my part of Maine; it seems like such an obvious way to get maximum enjoyment of Maine’s wonderful summer season. On a screened porch, you can be outside but protected from the bites of flies and mosquitoes.

As soon as I began dreaming about putting an addition on my house to add another bedroom and bathroom, I knew I wanted that addition to include a screened porch. I’ve long thought it would be wonderful to have a house where every room had access to some kind of outdoor living space – a little patio, or porch, or deck. I don’t expect to actually achieve this, but with the new addition, I’ve come close. A sliding glass door in the kitchen opens onto the back deck. My new bedroom includes a glass door that leads out to a small front deck. And from the living room, you can walk through a door in the foyer out to the screened porch.

Of these three outdoor spaces, the screened porch is the one that is getting the most use. I have it furnished with a round table and four chairs. I eat both my breakfast and lunch out on the porch and head out there when I want to sit and relax. It’s a great place to read, or to work Sudoku puzzles, or just to look at the trees and listen to the birds sing. When I am working in the garden or on my patio and walkways project, I take breaks with a cool drink on the screened porch. It’s also a perfect place to entertain friends for lunch or dinner or afternoon tea.

During these summer months, I treat the screened porch as indoor space as well as outdoor space. The floor of the porch is at the same level as the floors of the house, with no step down. On warm days, I leave the glass door from the foyer out to the porch open so that the porch becomes another room of the house. My porch has a ceiling fan and a light so that it is a comfortable place to be even on hot days and can be used after dark. Because the porch (unlike the decks) has a roof, it also provides a way to be outside without getting wet on rainy days. Someday, I hope to add panels of plastic sheeting that can be put up over the screens to make this a three-season space.  One thing the screened porch lacks right now is a garden view, but as I add gardens around the front entrance to my house this year and next, the pleasures of my screened porch will only increase.

9 thoughts on “The Pleasures of a Screened Porch

  1. Jean R. says:

    If that’s your screen porch in the photo it’s lovely. They are the perfect space to enjoy the outdoors without the bugs and the hot sun. One of my friends hung clear shower curtains on her screen porch to keep out the worst of the rain, not as good as plastic panels but it’s easy and cheap to put up. Magazines show outdoor curtains on porches that are weather proof and white that can be pulled for privacy which you probably don’t need on your property.

    I love your energy!

    • Jean says:

      Jean, I’m not particularly concerned about rain or snow getting into the screened porch. The porch is on the south corner of the house, and our winter storms mostly blow from the northeast, while summer storms blow from the northwest. I was amazed at how little snow got onto the porch during all our heavy snow last February. The plastic panels are for warmth. In October and April, the air is too cool to sit comfortably outside, but the sun is warm. I’m imagining clear plastic panels that would keep the cold air out but let in the warm sunlight. This might also make the porch suitable for over-wintering some plants in containers that are not cold-hardy enough to survive outside.

      • Jean R. says:

        I’ve tried to winter over plants on my screen porch but I’ve only been successful two winters out of the 12-13 that I’ve been here.

  2. Charles F. Emmons says:

    Jean, our summer cottage in Lily Dale, NY, has a large screened porch (designed by Penelope), and it’s our main living area. Our sentiments are exactly those that you outlined (being outdoors indoors). Most people in Lily Dale have closed in their old Victorian porches to be regular year-round rooms. losing the screen porch benefit and sacrificing historical authenticity. Penelope has made curtains we draw closed at night and to protect from rain. She added Victorian posts inside the screens, and had canvas roll down/up tarpaulins custom made to keep the snow out in winter. – Charlie

    • Jean says:

      Charlie, Your Lily Dale porch sounds wonderful. Mine is not a large space (about 9′ x 9′), but it is big enough to seat four for lunch or dinner. My 10′ x 10′ gazebo on the back deck will be (once I get it in place) a better place for lounging.

  3. Diana Studer says:

    building a satisfying garden view from your screened porch will be a fun challenge

    • Jean says:

      Diana, I’m not sure how much I’m going to worry about framing the garden view from the porch. In Julie Moir Messervy’s terms, I’m imagining those flower beds along the walkways as ‘stroll journeys’ rather than ‘mind journeys’. Nevertheless, I know I will enjoy looking out at them from the porch.

      • Diana Studer says:

        that framed view thru the window, is a pleasure I’m learning to enjoy and nurture, as my garden skills fledge. A teaser to entice you on your stroll journey …

  4. I wish when we built this house we had put in a screened porch….they are not common here either which makes no sense.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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