Bring the outdoors in

The screened porch is an utter must have. If, that is, you hope to enjoy summer days devoid of entomological invasion.

by Colin and Justin | photography by Robert Newnham

Damn the relentless army of black flies and mosquitoes whose collective impact (as they transform warm days into a zombie feeding frenzy of flying invaders) should never be underestimated.

With whisky infused blood coursing our veins, we – from past experience, certainly – seem particularly delicious. Little wonder, then, the last mozzie who feasted on our pasty flesh checked in to The Betty Ford Clinic, post pierce and suck, to rehabilitate.

But hey: we shan’t be beaten. Rather than dousing ourselves in unwelcome chemicals, hiding behind a firewall of burning citronella, or walking around head to toe in less than fetching mesh suits (how very X-Files) we prefer adding screened additions to our cottage renos to serve as safe “outdoor” zones where life can continue sans interruption.

Seasonal porches, of course, come in many guises to satisfy a host of requirements. A bug screened aluminum enclosure, for example, positioned around a main entranceway, could be a useful mudroom to accommodate shoes and wet swimsuits.

Alternatively, a screened wraparound enclosure could serve as a sitting room in which to relax on rattan sofas whilst sipping delicious Mint Juleps. Similarly, a timber-framed addition (complete with rain baffling inserts and bug screens) could work well to accommodate all manner of dining and warm weather gatherings. The possibilities, quite literally, are endless.

Before considering any form of addition, however, it’s important to consult your local township, taking into account the proposed addition’s size, setback from property lines, shared roads, sewage systems and water’s edge, just like you would if adding any structure. So, ask …. before you start building.

C+J’s 10-Point Screened Room Wish List

• Placement is paramount: Appraise cross breezes to keep you cool in summer and carefully consider where your new room should be positioned to take advantage of sunsets or beautiful lake views.

• Enhance current architecture: Any addition should embolden, rather than detract from, your cottage’s overall presence. Adding the sunroom featured here transformed everything, imbuing, as it did, the previously modestly-scaled cottage with an expansive ranch feel. Employing the same colour combo (painted grey siding and warm cedar timber) that appears on the main building, our extension positively enhances the overriding structure. Wherever possible, endeavor to raise ceiling height as this will make smaller footprints seem eminently more commodious, whilst allowing your porch to feel cooler due to its higher – and therefore breezier – scale.

• Style your sunroom as you would an indoor room: The most successful sunroom additions solve indoor problems such as a lack of dining or secondary living space. Ensure your addition enhances the cabin’s overall experience and dress to impress with smart rugs, standout cushions and accessories. Aye, if it looks special, you’ll feel special!

• Add a season: We specified the Weathermaster Plus system (from Sunspace Sunrooms) because it offers bug netting and clear memory vinyl panes to keep out rain and snow without the hassle of boarding up apertures when colder climes descend. The vinyl panes effectively extend the room’s usability well into a third season, providing optimal bang for our buck.

• Music: Invest in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless speakers so you can select where you want music and how loud it should be in each zone. Symfonisk speakers by Sonos (from Ikea) offer great aural quality and the ability to stream and control music form your smartphone. Stellar tech at a great price: what’s not to like?

• Lighting: An important feature in any space – indoors or out – and the more controllable the better. Consider adding wall or floor sockets so you can plug in table lamps to suffuse the porch with warm, welcoming pools of illumination. Small lamps, for example, flanking a console table, would make a huge difference to the relaxation vibe in your sunroom as day yields to night.

• Air quality: Auspiciously positioned electric fans will pick up and distribute breezes (and their cooling effects) to stop your sunroom overheating. Many of today’s ceiling models look amazing, but floor standing options can work just as well as long as you shop for variants that enhance, rather than old school models that defuse, your prevailing style vibe. Yup, always think form and function.

• Outdoor waterproof flooring: Oft beset with heavy foot traffic, sun porches need flooring that’s as robust as the ground outside, but with a level of sophistication that’s appropriate indoors. Exterior grade timber or stone are ideal, each being attractive and suitably hardwearing. But don’t forget to treat your sun porch like a proper room: layer in a rug to soften the look and add a welcome shot of colour.

• Go large: Mindful of planning allowances, and if budget allows, endeavor to make your sunroom as spacious as possible. Up scaling by as little as a couple of feet – in any direction – will amplify the overall feeling of space whilst allowing you to do more for limited additional costs.

• A bug-free life: Most important is the avoidance of mosquitos, bugs and other airborne critters. To this end, undertake an annual inspection to ensure screens remain tight and in good condition and that door gaps (and spaces in timber joints) are filled wherever possible. Mosquitoes, after all, are small, invasive and utterly determined … and without careful attention, they WILL find you!

Suppliers

Bug screen window system: SunspaceSunrooms.com 

Plans and timber frame creation: DiscoveryDreamHomes.com 

Contractor: Derek Beachli Construction, Beachli.ca 

Timber frame: RealCedar.com 

Timber supplier: Nuforest Products, NuForest.com 

Haliburton granite floor: McBain Quarries Inc., 705.754.5821

Overhead fan: Fanimation at FanShoppe.com 

Sofa, side lamps, floor lamps and hide rugs: Ikea.ca