I have always thought it would be so nice to have a screened in porch. Growing up in the Midwest, they were not very common, although they definitely would have been useful given the amount of bugs we had during the summer. When my husband, my kids and I lived in California, screened in porches were even more rare – there are so few bugs there. When we decided to build our home in North Carolina we knew that we wanted a screened in porch – they seem to be a staple of most homes in our area. We wanted the porch to be big enough to hold a seating area, a dining table and a kitchen area with a grill, refrigerator and sink. Luckily, we were able to fit the perfect sized porch on the side of our house, overlooking the woods in the side yard.
I already had the couch, love seat and coffee table from a previous home, but because the cushions had spent many years outside at our previous homes, the fabric covers were in pretty bad shape. I thought about buying new cushions, but they were very expensive because I would need custom sizes. Because these cushions were not in bad shape — just the fabric covering them — I decided to cover them myself. It was actually very, very easy. I picked out some indoor/outdoor fabric (outdoor fabric will withstand moisture and sun better than traditional indoor fabric) in a cheery blue and white print that was pretty inexpensive – less than ten dollars a yard. To cover the cushions, I took each cushion, laid it on the new fabric and cut out two pieces slightly bigger than the cushion. Next, I sewed up three sides of the fabric, slipped it over the existing cushion and fabric and hand sewed the open side. These cushions should last another five years or more, especially now that they are on a covered porch. I picked out some coordinating outdoor fabric and made some simple pillows to make the area more comfortable.
I absolutely fell in love with our outdoor dining table. We found the concrete dining table at a local furniture store and luckily it was on clearance. It is so very, very heavy that it will likely never be moved again. It’s wrought iron legs started out black, but that color didn’t look quite right, so I hand painted them white. The white has chipped in some places, but I think that adds to its character (and I just haven’t wanted to take my paint can out there and touch them up). I had a hard time finding the right chairs for the table. While you can’t tell it from the photo, the table is slightly higher than a regular outdoor table, so most outdoor chairs were just too low. I solved that problem by buying simple wooden indoor kitchen chairs and adding cushions to them. I’m watching the chairs very closely to see if they suffer any damage as a result of being outside and so far, I haven’t noticed any.
When the warm Spring and Summer weather comes, we have found that we love nothing more than sitting on our screened in porch, enjoying each others’ company, watching TV, or eating a simple meal – without the bugs. The room really acts as another living and dining room in the Spring and Summer months. I now know why Southerners love their screened in porches so much.