Screen It

Extend the limits of your home’s reach.

Extend the limits of your home’s reach.

By Jennifer Shapira

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Steve Larsen, owner of Alexandria-based Larsen Design/Build Associates, says he has seen an increase in requests for screened-in porches. More homeowners want to convert their decks, or portions of their decks, into covered, screened-in shelters, extending usable space. Such a structure, says Larsen, is “something that is going to give people that nice outdoor environment outdoors.”

No matter the budget, enclosed porches provide shelter from the sun and other elements: mosquitoes, rain, and can stay much cooler with the help of the breeze from a ceiling fan or two. Experts agree that in this area, if an enclosure has electricity, a ceiling fan is a must.

“Our summers get pretty hot around here,” Larsen says. “Sitting on a deck in hot sun is not always that fun. You’re sort of relegated to doing it early morning or late afternoon. Whereas if it were a covered porch, even if with just a simple ceiling fan, 90-95 degrees is still [enjoyable] for some people.” Alternatively, he says, add a heating element and the screened-in porch is a great place to hang out in the cooler months.

Larsen says taking the space beyond just a deck with a roof and considering some sort of gas heating system are the two requests he has seen most often.

If space and budget allow, consider a free-standing gas stove or wood-burning chiminea that can provide warmth and style at a minimal cost. Year-round, it can offer the thrill of a grown-up campfire.

“It’s an enhancement to being outside, a nice little seating, gathering place. If you’re spending some money on a nice backyard,” Harley says, a sophisticated fire feature is usually part of the plan. Just leave that to professionals to install and follow proper safety precautions.


(May 2013)