Expand your indoor-outdoor living space with a breezy, bug-free porch.

By Blythe Copeland
February 02, 2021
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minnesota home screened porch
Credit: Spacecrafting

If you want to enhance your home's indoor-outdoor living area, one of our favorites ideas is to add a screened-in porch. The change can be almost as dramatic as adding an entirely new room to your home, but the process of designing and decorating a screen-in porch isn't quite as straightforward. Before you invest in an enclosed porch, ask yourself a few key questions about the function and style of your new space.

Think of the View and Flow

One of the biggest decisions you'll make about your new space is where to put it. For some homeowners, screening in an existing porch feels like an obvious choice, but think carefully about how it will change your entrances, exits, and windows, says Jeff Rossen of Rossen Landscape. "You want to have a place where it won't negatively impact your view," says Rossen, "or else come to terms with the fact that you're going to be looking out the living room window into a screened-in porch." If you have a second-story deck, enclosing the area underneath can turn a dreary spot into a cozy outdoor living room; if you are adding an entirely new porch, Rossen recommends placing it behind your home and to the side for optimized flow.

Use Varying Materials

The overall design of your space will incorporate a variety of materials that define its feeling as an indoor or outdoor space; putting a paver floor on a grade-level porch will create a more patio-like atmosphere than installing wooden tiles on a raised room would. Other popular elements, says Rossen, include stone half-walls and exposed wooden beams. This is also when you'll finalize the size, color, and type of screens, whether they're floor-to-ceiling panels, retractable versions that roll back to create a completely open porch, or installations you can protect with panes of Plexiglass in bad weather.

Choose Finishes Wisely

If you just want to add screens to your concrete slab to keep your outdoor space tidier and free of bugs, then you may opt to skip the upgraded finishes entirely. But before you commit to a plan, consider how you could utilize the space all year, suggests interior designer Alicia Murphy of Alicia Murphy Design. "I think it's important to think about how you will use this room throughout the seasons—do you need a fan for the summer heat, or inset ceiling heater to make this room usable when the temperature drops?" says Murphy. Rossen often installs masonry fireplaces, bar-ready plumbing, outdoor kitchens, recessed lighting, and televisions in porches for his residential clients.

Seek Out Homey Décor

Furnishing a transitional space—like a screened-in porch—can present amateurs with several design obstacles. "I think it's very important for screened-in porches to feel like a continuation of the home, but be durable enough to withstand the realities of being open to the elements," says Murphy. "The challenge of designing a screened porch is making it seem as comfortable and clean as an indoor seating area but ensuring your furniture and décor selections can hold up to the elements depending on where you live." Look for fully upholstered outdoor sofas made in sturdy fabrics that can hold up to extra moisture, heat, or humidity, paired with easy-to-clean tables and chairs for almost-outside meals. "Depending on your space it's nice to create [both a] seating area and dining area so that you can lounge and dine al fresco without worry of bugs," says Murphy. "Having this room feel like another room in your house will make your home seem larger and the space more inviting. There are so many great options for outdoor rugs and pillows that are textural and feel elevated enough that they could be in your living room, and really add a level of finish that makes the space feel complete."

Comments (8)

Anonymous
July 9, 2021
I just enclosed and screened in my odd shaped back porch. I love the new living space. Still in the process of deciding on a stain color or do I want to paint. It feels like a new room. We have a small eating area, sitting and a TV. Love it!
Anonymous
July 9, 2021
I just enclosed and screened in my odd shaped back porch. I love the new living space. Still in the process of deciding on a stain color or do I want to paint. It feels like a new room. We have a small eating area, sitting and a TV. Love it!
Anonymous
July 9, 2021
I just enclosed and screened in my odd shaped back porch. I love the new living space. Still in the process of deciding on a stain color or do I want to paint. It feels like a new room. We have a small eating area, sitting and a TV. Love it!
Anonymous
July 9, 2021
I just enclosed and screened in my odd shaped back porch. I love the new living space. Still in the process of deciding on a stain color or do I want to paint. It feels like a new room. We have a small eating area, sitting and a TV. Love it!
Anonymous
March 23, 2021
My screened-in porch is never clean. The slightest breeze brings in all sorts of dirt and ash from wild fires, and gets damp from the rain. I would like help turning it into a painting studio with glass windows.
Anonymous
March 21, 2021
My screened in porch was turned into a nightmare by squirrels and opossums. The squirrels sliced openings in the screens, hauled up many sticks, twigs and leaves and made several nests in the porch. Now I am afraid to go out there. I would love to enclose this area and use it for a pantry now. any suggestions? Mary Walden mwalden456@gmail.com
Anonymous
March 21, 2021
My screened in porch was turned into a nightmare by squirrels and opossums. The squirrels sliced openings in the screens, hauled up many sticks, twigs and leaves and made several nests in the porch. Now I am afraid to go out there. I would love to enclose this area and use it for a pantry now. any suggestions? Mary Walden mwalden456@gmail.com
Anonymous
March 21, 2021
My screened in porch was turned into a nightmare by squirrels and opossums. The squirrels sliced openings in the screens, hauled up many sticks, twigs and leaves and made several nests in the porch. Now I am afraid to go out there. I would love to enclose this area and use it for a pantry now. any suggestions? Mary Walden mwalden456@gmail.com