Screen Queen

[Previous Suburban Farmgirl, October 2009 – October 2010]

The best feature of my new rental house is one that didn’t even appear on my list of search requirements. (That would be the list that consisted of exactly three items, none of them aesthetic: enough bedrooms, in current school district, and affordable.) The bonus feature I now can’t live without?

My back screened porch.

Let’s pause here to remember this house is in North Carolina. Where the highs have been holding steady in the 90s. I love to be outside, but much beyond 82 degrees, I’m sorry but this native Michigander just isn’t gonna do it.

On my porch, though, I can be surrounded by trees, feel the breeze, but also be shielded from the boiling temps – and the mosquitoes!

I’m a screened-porch newbie. My last two houses had back patios – perfectly fine concrete slabs, but not outdoor-rooms with greenery for walls and a tin roof to magnify the nonexistent rain and a wood door that makes a satisfying slam. I didn’t grow up with a screen porch, either. (Though one magical summer, Dad set up a large screen tent in the backyard where I obsessively re-read Nancy Drew and played hours of Scrabble and a word game on scratch paper called “Pica Famma Zilch” — which I’d love a refresher on, if anybody else knows how?) (It’s the first time Google has let me down!)

This house’s owner sang the virtues of the screened porch when I inspected the place, and said his family spent all their time there. We signed the contract there, in fact. I could hardly pull myself away to go home and pack.

I’ve sat in my new living room exactly once, last night, to watch a movie. And I hang out in my bedroom for exactly seven hours a night, six and three-quarters of them horizontal. But the porch? Bliss!

In the morning, before anyone else is awake, I breakfast there:

Then at midday, I break for my lunch. (Same scene, different food!)

Sometimes I work there to get a change of scenery from my desk; it picks up the wireless. (Arty shot by passing young photographer.)

This being summer various children gravitate there all day. Even though it has no TV, videogame, or permanent computer! So far they’ve ignored the shelf I stocked with board games. (Pride and Prejudice: The Game or Pokemon Edition Monopoly, anyone?) But they hang with friends, play guitar, and making my heart sing, they actually…read!

I haven’t been in the house a month, but we’ve already had a birthday party here:

In this part of the Southeast, the big thing is decks. In other places, I know they love their patios or their balconies or their wrap-around porches. (That’s my secret love, one of those wide porches with grey-painted floors and faded floral cushions, preferably with a water view!) I know MaryJane loves her outdoor room – literally outdoor, no floor, no walls – complete, when I saw it awhile back, with a bed, a big bathtub, table and chairs, and a few scene-stealing wandering chickens.

But I’m satisfied with my porch. Any suggestions on how to make it better? More plants? Rug or no rug? A bathtub and chickens might be a little much, but anything else, I’m open minded!

  1. Denise says:

    Wow! Love the porch, would suit me well, since the mozzies seem to find me too.
    Wouldn’t worry about the rug unless the kids like to sit on the floor, or maybe add it when the weather begins to cool a little.
    Maybe a pot plant or two in the corners, but wouldn’t add to much, having it very casual is the major appeal here and certainly usuage.
    Love all the pics, it is nice to have a snap shot into your life. Makes me feel very much a part of it.
    I’m glad you’re settling in so well.
    Congratulations on making this gem a wonderful home for yourself and your family.
    Would love to have something similiar for myself, but will have to stay where I am for a while yet.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Obviously the weather is warm for you, it’s freezing here – not snow weather for us, but then again its not supposed to snow where I am
    Cheers x

  2. Heather H :) says:

    Wow…what a blessing to find this house with a screened porch!! That’s great. I always thought it would be nice to have something like that where you can still feel the breezes or the rain, but still be protected by the roof above your head. Whatever you decide to do with it, it will be beautiful. I’m sure of that!!! Hugs.

  3. bonnie ellis says:

    Paula: What a fantastic porch! That was one of the first things on our list of what we wanted for our house. I grew up with porches; one in the east side of the house and one on the west side. So we could go to either whenever the sun got too hot. We had antique wicker furniture. Now my porch on the north side doubles as a bonsai holding area in the winter and when the trees are moved outside it becomes a screened in summer porch. I also had a porch swing like we had on the farm. Enjoy! Bonnie

  4. Cora says:

    I understand totally the porch atmosphere…I grew up with an open porch and a swing. Now I have a very wide porch (covered deck) where I can enjoy nature sounds while reading, sleeping, eating. It is a wonderful to reconnect with nature and still be out of the weather. Our wonderful Martin birds handle the mosquitoes for us here in central Indiana….The birds are my pride and joy. enjoy your time outdoors…I do.

  5. Staci says:

    Oh my word!!! What an AWESOME back porch! We are in the planning stages of our next phase of simple living life in Northeast Texas and a screened porch is HIGH on the list of wants!

    I love the pics – thanks for sharing!I look forward to seeing more!

  6. Tammy says:

    Loved your post. Lovely porch you have. I would love to have something like that for my morning or evening tea where I would be out of the heat and not eaten alive by the mosquitoes. I think you should leave as is. It is cozy and inviting. Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. jardinera says:

    You’ve triggered some great memories! As a kid growing up in the midwest, I was jealous of my aunt’s house because it had a SCREEN PORCH. All the cousins would sleep out there on summer nights and it didn’t matter how sandy we were from swimming in the lake. Normal rules of hygiene and bedtimes didn’t apply on the screen porch. Lucky you!

  8. Jennifer White-Mandujano says:

    Love the porch!!! I would skip the rug and add a few ferns. Enjoy!!!

  9. Nancy J says:

    Hi everyone,

    This was a great blog..brought back some great memories. I have been blessed in my life to have lived in homes with either a front porch, back deck or both. Right now, I have both but neither is screened. My son gave me a screened gazebo which its right off the back(unfinished)deck. Even when its hot outside, I try to sit in there as much as possible. Reading, cup or glass of tea on the table, texting, paying DS…I will be moving the gazebo up onto the deck, hopefully soon. But I truely love it, anytime of the day, any day of the week…If I am not in the house, you can find me outside…Thanks again for sharing and I am really happy things are working out so well for you & your girls…New Farmgirl Member #1754 :->

  10. Debbie says:

    Hi there Paula!
    What a bonus to your new home… A screened porch… We are in the New England area where they are plentiful because of weather and bugs…We have a large deck, but it isn’t screened yet… We’re keeping our fighers crossed we can accomplish that one day soon! I love that the kids are gravitating to it and READING… wonderful! As for the decor, I say keep it simple, casual and comfy, perhaps a couple of pillow’s on the couch, and a throw for chilly evenings… A couple of flowering plants for a shot of color, ( geraniums do well inside and out all year long) and one last thing, just for fun… string up some lights where the screen meets the ceiling or grab a couple of lanterns to make your nights more magical on your new porch!


  11. Mary Ann says:

    I love my screen back porch. Right now it’s raining and it has a metal roof, the sound makes me want to fall asleep. But it faces west and in Florida, that makes for a very hot afternoon, but the mornings are divine. I have a porch swing, table & chairs and hutch. No better place for breakfast and coffee! I am so glad you and your family are enjoying your porch, it is an iconic reminder of summer and fanily time.

  12. Reba says:

    Apparently you have most of what you "need" since everyone seems to be gravating to the porch. If I added anything, it would be like Deb said, "a couple of lanterns to make your nights more magical" and possibly a throw for comfort in the fall.

  13. Shery says:

    Ok, that’s it. You sealed the plans for my own porch. I was undecided about screen. We’re just now making headway on the mudroom…and the porch will follow. Screen…the new Must Have. Thanks for the perfect post for what we’re doing right now. Your porch is divine. I can see why so many hours will be spent there.

    Its great to see your new life forming up so nicely. What a godsend that you found such a nice house in the location you wanted. Good For You.
    Shery J

  14. Joy says:

    How about a couple of rocking chairs? When I was a little girl, we spent hours on the porch playing and listening to my grandma tell stories. My kids say I have a story for everything! I just love rockers and porch swings.

  15. Brenda says:

    How wonderful for you. We had a sun porch at our previous home. There was a couple of windows with screens that let in a nice breeze when we sat on it. We had a small table and chairs but it was not large enough for the nice couch you have on yours. It looks like you have everything already to make you comfortable. Maybe a radio/CD player to listen to your favs or a nice book on CD. Very nice. Here in Michigan it is suppose to be 90 tomorrow on the 4th. We may just melt…Have a wonderful holiday!

  16. Debbie Shue says:

    Where I grew up in the south we called these sleeping porches. Nothing better than sleeping out protected from the bugs, watching the stars and the fireflies…happy times. Enjoy your sapce you lucky lady!

  17. Juliann Leonard says:

    So happy you love your screened in porch…you know we grew up with one and then had one at our house which I always loved! One suggestion I would make is a water feature – either outside or inside…I always found the sound of running water very soothing when sitting there protected from the mossies, wasps, moths, etc but loving the breeze and trees (reminds me to suggest a few wind chimes as well).

    Glad you love your new house! It’s been hot here in England as well (but not quite as hot as there) and I have missed having some outdoor haven like a screened porch – our tiny balcony doesn’t quite do it!

  18. JoEllen says:

    Paula, my son and daughter in law live in North Carolina too and they also have a screened in porch. When we visit there we love to sit and chat in this room listening to the cicadas sing their goodnight song. I think less is better because friends and family visiting fill the whole area with their laughter and love — that is what you will see and feel when you sit out there — the comfy things are nice and a few are needed — but you will always hear and see the get togethers of times past. Have fun and dream in your new "nest".

  19. JoEllen says:

    Paula, my son and daughter in law live in North Carolina too and they also have a screened in porch. When we visit there we love to sit and chat in this room listening to the cicadas sing their goodnight song. I think less is better because friends and family visiting fill the whole area with their laughter and love — that is what you will see and feel when you sit out there — the comfy things are nice and a few are needed — but you will always hear and see the get togethers of times past. Have fun and dream in your new "nest".

  20. Mary Anne says:

    Oh how enchanting! And on that note-candles, wind chimes,
    and perhaps faerie lites for evening, a hammock, art on the wall, a mirror to reflect light, cutains, oh my you’ve got me started and yes a chandelier!!!!

  21. Elizabeth Suanno says:

    I’m a new Mary Jane Farmgirl member, who is looking to move to North Carolina. Hope I get lucky enough to get a porch, if not already screened in, then I’ll happily screen it.
    The cats would LOVE it.
    Your’s is HUGE and wonderful with trees all around. You are lucky indeed.

  22. Addison Spencer says:

    you know we love our back porch!!

    my cats love it, its great when its hot outside and we grill in the spring/summer ( sometimes in the fall/winter..) especially if you have a fan out there, that’s what makes it even better, especially during this past summer’s wonderful heat wave!

  23. Louise Fredieu says:

    i am so happy to read your blog this morning. Last year i had my 98 year old house painted and a screened in porch added to the back. It looks just like it is original to the house. I am so happy with it, as are my dachshunds and Sheltie. The one thing that has really helped during the summer in Texas is the ceiling fan! It makes the mornings and nights bearable. The 100 degree plus temps make the days on the porch uninhabitable even with the fan. Enjoy your porch. I love mine.

  24. Cindy says:

    You need a water feature for your screened in porch or in the landscape just beyond it. The sound of a trickle of water will make your room complete. There are cherub-type features that hang on a wall and recycle a small amount of water or you can put in a bubbler as a focal point in the yard. Either would be nice.

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