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Screened In Porches: How To Decide If It's Worth The Investment

We had a door that led to nowhere. It came off a questionably constructed "addition" the previous owner used as a kitchen (he was a chef.) We replaced the flooring with leftover oak planks on FB marketplace (thanks to Brian, our friend/agent/biz partner, for finding them) and added proper window treatments and lighting. This quirky room, while at first sight laughable, is where we spend the majority of our time. Off the addition was said door. Once opened, it had a sketchy staircase that tempted you into our vast backyard, but something was missing.

The manicured lawn with a garden bordering the back fence felt perfectly serene, but the way to the yard harvested dead space and didn't make sense. We needed a porch. The classic southern covered porch like my grandmother had that anchored the pink victorian she owned in downtown Gadsden (minus the wasp's nest).

Granna's House c. 1992

Then came the question of how much of a commitment we wanted to make. Initially, the property had been purchased as an investment, meaning we hadn't originally planned on living there. However, we moved in once we started taking the walls down and saw that we could be quite happy in the 2 BD/1 BA bungalow. We thought we should eventually spend the money on aggressively renovating the entire house (there's a rental unit upstairs), but that was years away. So the question now became; how much do we spend building on an already quirky layout to enjoy the house just a teeny bit more?

After discussing it with our fabulous neighbors (shoutout to Roost Custom Interiors), who had fully gutted their similar layout a few years earlier, we decided to go for it. We needed to make the space work for us right now by adding an outdoor room—no need to wait for the potential of the future. So I quickly got to planning, and we talked it over with our favorite contractor, Nelson's Renovations, to see how we could bring this 12'x20' outdoor living room dream to life.

Once construction started, things moved swiftly, so I was able to start making furniture purchases (my favorite part.) I found a fantastic woven second-hand Pottery Barn sofa (with outdoor cushions) on Chairish and large vintage toile pillows from Gas Lamp Too Antiques. In addition, we had a dilapidated concrete fire pit at an old rental property that needed rescuing. After some cement filler and a few coats of paint, she became the perfect coffee table/fireplace. A cracked and used marble bistro table worked perfectly with our makeshift dining banquette, paired with a new mango wood bench and rattan chairs. Finally, I procured a few accessories from my mother's house (thanks, mom) and some Sunbrella outdoor drapes hung with mismatched drape rods from staging jobs (they're all black, so you can't tell...I hope) to shut the neighbors out (kidding, I love them).

Six weeks later and approximately $16,000 (including paint, furniture, and decor), I was sipping sweet tea on our second-hand woven sofa, enjoying the golden glow of the filtered sun, and writing my morning pages.

So far, the return on investment is high. When considering the porch, we thought of the conventional ways we would use it, but now that it's here, we have gone so beyond that (especially as the seasons change) and use it as a place for reflection, conversation, yoga, and escape. The consensus? The porch was definitely worth it!

Photos by Caroline Sharpnack


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