Consider the U-shaped home. Picture the open side of the “U” at the back of the home. Now, drop a screened porch down into the “U.” What do you get? If you’re not careful, you get darkness in the rooms adjoining the screened porch. Whatever natural light once filled those rooms might just fill the porch instead — and stop there.
Or, if you have The Porch Company design a screened porch inside the “U” of your U-shaped home, you get lots of natural light. Everywhere. Even in the adjoining rooms.
That was the challenge presented to The Porch Company when we took on a screened porch project at this Nashville home. Being experienced and resourceful, we found several creative ways to draw natural light through the porch and into the adjoining rooms.
In keeping with the scale of the home, the porch has high ceilings, so the screened openings are very tall. So tall, in fact, that we designed a transom line above the screen doors to visually bring the height of the porch to human scale. Bigger screened openings mean you have more light coming in.
The low wall beneath the screens, only 24” tall, is called a paneled wall. We kept the panels simple with clean lines. They are made from MDO wood (medium density overlay), a waterproof material that takes paint nicely.
Moving inside the porch, you can see the ceiling, one of the porch’s most dynamic features. We designed a grid-patterned ceiling laid out carefully with a magical ingredient: skylights. We created an interplay of skylights and pastel-colored beadboard V-grooved ceiling accented with white-painted beams. A great deal of planning went into the placement of the skylights in conjunction with ceiling fans and many recessed can lights. We had to be careful with this design because placing a fan under a skylight will cause a strobe effect. These elements cannot interact with one another.
The simple square pattern of the beamed ceiling is echoed in the square details around the fireplace and along the paneled wall below the screens. The ventless fireplace is fueled by gas. Notice the mantel with a television above it. This is one of our hollowed-out mantels where we run the wires behind the wall so no wires are visible.
We kept the original brick walls (previously the home’s exterior walls, now they are interior walls of the porch) because they add depth and texture to the space. With so many glass doors and windows leading from the porch to the adjoining rooms, the brick does not overwhelm the porch or make it feel dark or closed in.
Two skylights over the dining table make this space bright and airy, but with skylights directly overhead, there was no place to put a ceiling fan in this part of the porch. We removed the light fixtures on either side of the French doors leading into the master bedroom and replaced them with wall-mounted fans.
Completing our tour of the porch’s interior, the floor is white stone. This floor matches — and flows from — the pool surround outside. The crisp, white floor also serves to brighten the interior of the porch. The white floor, ceiling beams, fireplace and wall panels work with the skylights to make the entire space light and bright!
Stepping back outside, an important part of this porch design is the roofline. It was crucial that we match the home’s existing gutter line. As you can see, the home and the porch have a consistent gutter line.
We chose to cover the porch addition with a flat roof (which is actually a very low-sloped roof). It’s a misconception that a flat roof will create problems with water drainage. A flat roof design can make it easy for the roof — both the porch roof and the surrounding rooflines — to shed water.
Altogether, with the right roof design, enormous porch screens, skylights, many glass doors and windows and white elements throughout the porch, we accomplished what we set out to do. We designed and built a porch within a “U” that does not sacrifice natural light in the adjoining rooms. The homeowners are thrilled with their light, bright screened porch.
If you have a porch design challenge, and you live in the Nashville area, we can help with that. Give us a call for a free consultation at 615-662-2886. We look forward to your call!