With the today's covered porches, you get cozy comforts of the indoors along with the grandeur of the outdoors


March 16, 1997|By JoAnne C. Broadwater

Spring arrives this week and who among us is not anxious to enjoy a bit of outdoor living -- without the bugs and the heat?

Homeowners are going undercover with stylish screened porches that provide a personal open-air retreat with all the comforts and beauty of home -- along with the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

Today's screened porch is more than a white aluminum rectangular addition that's shady and bug-free. It is a fashionable warm-weather room that blends beautifully in style and materials with the exterior of the home.

It's bright and airy with a gable or hip roofline, cathedral ceiling, skylights, plenty of screening and higher side walls that allow light to flow into the home.

It has abundant architectural detail: arches, angled corners, brick columns, exposed beams, knee walls, tongue-and-groove ceilings, lattice, decorative panels in open gable ends and Chippendale rails.

Speakers, television cables, ceiling fans, track lighting, rugs, beautiful furnishings and dark privacy screens add the finishing touches for a perfect screened-porch environment.

The cost for a new screened porch can range from $4,000 to more than $20,000. The price, of course, depends on the size of the porch, type of building materials used and the extras you choose.

Square columns, arches and an elegant Victorian door give a decidedly Southern flair to the screened porch that one Baltimore County couple added to their traditional-style home.

"I just wanted a really pretty screened porch," the wife says. "It's bright and cheerful and we're out here all the time. My husband likes the restfulness of it."

Designed and built by Archadeck North Baltimore, the 16-foot-by-16-foot porch is highly detailed and has the popular gable roofline that tends to be the most attractive choice for many homes, says company president Jeffrey Slutkin.

"People are getting away from the aluminum structure attached to the house," Slutkin says. "They want finishes to match the house and they're making the screened porch a part of the house."

Painted white to complement the home's cream-colored siding, the Archadeck screened porch has 10 columns, wide arches above the railings, an exposed beam ceiling, a screened open gable end with trim, and a white ceiling fan.

Tucked into a niche at the rear of the house, the porch has screening on two sides and is shielded from the weather by the walls of the family room and kitchen. Hunter green indoor/outdoor cushioned chairs, a glass-topped wicker end table and a hardwood garden bench rarely get wet.

"We ate every meal out here last summer," says the wife, who is a homemaker. "It was great. In the spring and fall and on a cool day in the summer we just leave the French slider or French doors open. Our miniature schnauzer, Mickey, likes to go in and out and bark at the birds and the squirrels."

A screened door leads to a landing that steps down to a lower deck and then to the yard. Lighting is built into the stair risers for the convenience of evening guests.

When the home was built in the Sparks-Glencoe area in 1991, it had an open deck 8 feet above ground level.

"We never used it," the wife says. "All day long the deck was in the full heat of the sun. We wanted to get some shade."

So in 1994, she and her husband -- a business executive -- covered the deck with a screened porch and added a lower deck to provide access to the yard and an area for grilling and sunbathing.

"We wanted the benefit of having an extra room five months of the year," she says. "And we like being out and enjoying our surroundings without having to worry about the bugs. It feels like you're out in nature ... but you still have the protection of the screened porch."

Like this couple, growing numbers of homeowners are choosing to convert existing open decks into screened porches, says David Lombardo, president of American Deck Inc.

"People are tired of the big, massive open deck," Lombardo says. "They are not having 100-person parties and they don't want to ... fry in the sun. They ... want to be under cover in a place that's bug-free and private."

New screened porches are often surrounded by smaller areas of open decking to create a multipurpose space, he says.

The 11-foot-by-13-foot screened porch that American Deck built in 1995 for Danny and Janet Imwold of Bel Air has a sun deck on one side and a small landing on the other, with stairs leading to the yard at both ends. Near the landing, the Imwolds plan to install a hot tub in the yard.

"In the summertime we like to lay in the hammock on the deck, get some sun and read a book," Danny Imwold says. "But we also want to have some place to get out of the sun so we won't be squinting all the time. We want a way to get away from the bugs."

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