Each room inside of your house has a specific purpose. From the bedrooms and bathrooms to the kitchen and laundry room — these essential spaces define your living habits and truly turn your house into a home. While certain areas like garages or attics may offer you an additional area for storage or small activities, these rooms sometimes can’t provide you with the extra living space you desire. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to give your home a fresh new space — install a screened-in porch.
Screened-in porches are not uncommon — in fact, the use of a porch as an indoor/outdoor living space has been popular since the 1800s. Over a century later, you’ll still find plenty of screened-in porches throughout the country. Take a short drive through many of Virginia’s neighborhoods and you’re sure to see families and friends enjoying these enclosed areas. It comes as no surprise that screened-in porches provide plenty of attractive benefits, especially for those living in the Old Dominion.
Benefits of Having a Screened-In Porch
A porch itself can be a great space to sit and relax with friends and family. However, some homeowners may have certain needs that can’t be fulfilled by a porch that is completely open to the elements. Although we’re fortunate to live in a “Goldilocks Climate” — weather that’s not too hot yet not too cold — some of us are still subject to over 40 inches of annual rain and up to 23 inches of snow. Those hoping to enjoy their open porch may be limited depending on the season.
One of the key benefits of a screened-in porch is that it partially protects users from environmental exposure while still allowing you to enjoy the outdoors. A step into this room gives you a breath of fresh air without ever leaving the house. You get to enjoy feeling the wind blow without swatting flies and dodging mosquitoes. You can comfortably enjoy time outside while remaining only feet from the kitchen and bathroom — a convenient slice of paradise within walking distance of your bed.
Getting years of enjoyment out of your porch is a top benefit but there’s another perk that most homeowners love — a return on investment. Yes, a screened-in porch can potentially add value to your home aesthetically and financially. Homeowners stand to see an average of 84 percent of a return on their screened-in porch. The potential for a higher return is increased in Virginia compared to, for instance, states in the Northeast due to our temperate weather.
Perhaps the largest benefit is that screened-in porches can have a variety of uses. This versatile area can effortlessly turn into the space of your dreams with a little thought and a few pieces of furniture. Whether you have an existing screened-in porch or are considering adding one to your home, let Sunshine Contracting get your creative juices flowing. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use a screened-in porch.
Ways to Use a Screened-In Porch
Screened-in porches come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can transform into virtually any space you desire. You can easily make your porch a room catered to your specific needs. From a play area for children or pets to an entertaining space for guests, how you use your screened-in porch is up to you.
1. An Outdoor Office
Most homeowners could use an extra room for office space in their houses. Many workers already clock in and out at a home office. If you can carry your work with you, you can take your office wherever you go. Instead of heading to the coffee shop, simply walk out of your house and step into your workspace. You don’t need much to turn your porch into a home office:
- A weatherproof desk that is sturdy and easy to clean, along with a comfortable chair.
- A light to illuminate your workspace.
- A few office essentials like a wastebasket with a lid, a cabinet to file documents without risk of weather damage and a case to hold pens and other supplies.
2. Pet-Friendly Porch
Does your furry friend need a place of their own? Instead of keeping them cooped up in the house all afternoon, allow your porch to be their playground. Many new homeowners want their pets to have adequate space to roam and play. Unfortunately, seasonal changes can limit the animal’s time in the yard. A screened-in porch can become a safe and covered area for your pets to comfortably use throughout the year. It also allows you to relocate some pet supplies to a dedicated area.
Consider catering your porch to your pets with these items:
- A comfortable bed that is machine washable.
- Toys and treats for dogs and cats.
- A scratching post for the cat to climb.
- A covered area to give your pet a shaded place to hide and rest.
- Plenty of water, especially during the summer.
3. Let Your Guests Catch Some Zs Under the Stars
As you consider the many different ways to use your screened-in porch, chances are that no matter what you choose to do, you’ll need seating. You could make this sitting area even more versatile by purchasing seating that converts to a bed for guests spending the night. Furniture aside, another option would be to have some padding available to support a guest laying on a sleeping bag or air mattress, or even a small tent for children.
4. Give the Kids More Room to Play
Speaking of children, why not give them a little extra room for fun and games? An enclosed porch offers safety and fresh air without the worry of bugs or dirt that can interrupt playtime. Line the floor of the area with soft mats so the kids can crawl around easily. Include a few bins of toys, games and books that they can access. Remember, safety first — remove hazards, lock any exits and supervise them at all times.
5. Give the Adults a Little Extra Room for Fun
Who said only children could have a playroom? One of the coolest uses for a screened-in porch is to dedicate a space for your very own bar. Start small with a portable cart or go all-in with a bartop that stretches along the wall of the house. Spectacular or simple, a screened-in porch is a great place to entertain guests for any occasion. If you’re looking for DIY bar ideas, start with these:
- A two- or three-shelf bookshelf is an easy solution, suitable for storing a few bottles of liquor, glasses and bar tools.
- A bar cart or wagon can quickly be completed by including a serving tray and a few tools like shakers, jiggers and stirrers.
- A collapsible or portable bar looks sleek and can easily be taken indoors.
6. Give Yourself Space to Get Creative
Swap the bar cart for the paint kit and turn your porch into a center for creativity. The warm sun and cool breeze provide a perfect setting for you to draw and paint. A plush chair, a sturdy desk and a sketchpad can be easily moved into the area. You can even mount a canvas on the house wall to give yourself plenty of room to work. This space can conveniently store many of your supplies:
- Use reliable plastic containers to house your paint.
- Store your easel, canvases and tools in a single location.
- Keep a hamper on-hand so you can safely transport your dirty smock or pants to the laundry room without tracking stains into the house.
Screened-In Porches Can Evolve With Your Needs
Transforming a screened-in porch into a fully-functioning room is a fantastic way to give your home the addition you’ve always wanted for exactly what you need. For some, though, they’d find a screened-in porch much more effective if it could be continually reworked on a whim to accommodate a variety of spur-of-the-moment needs. There’s no reason why your porch has to serve as a space dedicated to a single activity. Here are a few other fun ways to maximize your porch potential.
1. Make It a Movie Night
Who doesn’t love a night at the movies? With a screened-in porch, you can enjoy your favorite films under the stars. Action flicks, romantic dramas, hilarious comedies and adorably animated tales — no matter your genre of choice, your outdoor space can be transformed into a magical theater. Simply relocate a TV and DVD player to the porch temporarily or install a projector screen to stream your favorites.
Be sure to add the following for a true Hollywood experience:
- A big, comfy patio couch, beanbag chairs or recliners to lounge in style.
- You can install shades or blinds on the screens to keep excess light from distracting your film.
- Don’t forget the concessions — have a small shelf unit, cabinet or cart available to keep your popcorn and other snacks close by.
2. Game Day, Any Day
Virginia Tech versus UVA. The Redskins versus The Cowboys. Ovechkin and the Caps versus Crosby and the Penguins — it’s game day all year long in the great state of Virginia. Don’t miss a minute of the season by turning your screened-in porch into the ultimate game day gathering space. Use the television or projector from movie night for an afternoon of hard-hitting action watching your favorite rivalries with your friends and family. Add a few other essentials, and you’ll be ready for the first play:
- Comfy seating for two or more: Patio furniture like chairs, stools or even couches would work well to accommodate a handful of friends.
- Snacks and drinks on-deck: If you want your game-day porch to be the MVP of the house, you might consider keeping a cooler, bar cart or even small fridge close by to keep you and your guests fueled up until the final buzzer.
- Weather-proof memorabilia: Show your team spirit and decorate the porch with signs, banners and other bits of flair.
3. Plenty of Space to Party
With a screened-in porch, you’ve got a perfect party space for kids — rain or shine. If it’s a bright and sunny day, you can keep children’s activities outside and use the porch as the place for presents and cake. On a gloomy day, you can fill your porch with fun activities by hanging a pinata, setting up pin the tail on the donkey or creating activity tables for fun art projects. The screened-in porch also acts as the center of the celebration, helping parents keep track of everyone.
4. A Room With a View
Imagine the perfect fall day in Virginia — leaves turning beautiful shades of orange and red, a refreshing crisp breeze in the air and nothing but the sound of chirping birds to fill your ears. For such a wonderful afternoon, a good book is all you need for a few moments of pure serenity. Make your screened-in porch your very own room of relaxation that’s perfect for getting lost in the pages of a novel. You can complete your reading room with a few simple items:
- A seat to sit or lay on: A rocking chair, smooth glider or even a hammock are perfect outdoor furniture pieces.
- A side table: A place to set a hot cup of tea or a cool glass of lemonade.
- A good book: A few hundred pages of your favorite author’s latest work.
5. Holiday Happenings
We use some rooms in our home more than others, and that’s just fine. For instance, many people will use their formal dining areas for other activities throughout the year. A screened-in porch is a great addition to the home, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be used every day. Reserving it for special celebrations and holidays is another suitable use for your space. There are plenty of occasions throughout the year that this area is ideal for:
- Set up a serving table on the porch for Thanksgiving dinners or family reunions.
- Decorate the space for Christmas by putting up the tree, stringing garland and hanging lights.
- Create a spooky space for Halloween or hide eggs throughout the porch for Easter.
6. Family Time, Any Time
Last but certainly not least, your screened-in porch is the perfect place to spend quality time with your family, no matter what the occasion. All you need is a folding table to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner together. A small bookshelf can house activities for adults and kids to enjoy at any moment. With a little imagination, your screened-in porch can transform into the space of your desires.
How to Plan a Screened-In Porch
Don’t worry — even if your home doesn’t currently have a screened-in porch, there’s no reason why you can’t have one installed. First, you’ll want to determine which type of porch would be best for your needs. Depending on the style of your home, certain options may be a better fit structurally or aesthetically. We suggest you first consider one of the three most popular front porch options:
- The Wraparound Porch: Great for multi-level homes, this porch is ideal for those who love to spend plenty of time enjoying the outdoors. An eave is added to the home which protects the porch from above.
- The Gable-style Porch: Small and simple, this offers protection from the weather while you enter and exit the house. A gable-style roof hangs above to provide overhead cover.
- The Enclosed Porch: Also known as a three-season porch, this area can be constantly adjusted to the season by removing or adding screen panels and glass panes as the weather changes.
Once you determine what you want your ideal porch to look like, you’ll need to consider many factors that influence the construction process. Secure permits to build the foundation and attach it to the house, and select reliable materials that will withstand Virginia’s environmental challenges. Consider whether or not you want electrical outlets available and where those will be located. Then you’ll finally be ready for construction — place posts, foundation, flooring and railings, then paint, seal or stain everything.
This is quite a project for some homeowners, which is why you might want to bring in a professional. Building a new porch is a cost-effective way to increase the living space in your home and add value to your house, and it’s a lot easier with a little help. Sunshine Contracting understands that you want your new screened-in porch to perfect, that’s why we’re here to help. We’ll sit down and design every detail with you, assisting you every step of the way. By the time you pick out the furnishings and decor, we’ll have a brand-new porch ready for you to kick back and relax.
Screened-In Porch Services From Sunshine Contracting
A screened-in porch can be an affordable extension of your home that increases your living space and adds value to the property. Sunshine Contracting has a team of experienced, certified and insured professionals ready to install a high-quality porch on any home imaginable. We’ve proudly served homeowners around the Virginia area for over 20 years, including families in Arlington, Fairfax, Stafford, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Why should you trust Sunshine Contracting to complete your new porch or remodel?
- We do everything in-house. No subcontractors mean no chance for confusion. Our highly-trained experts will come to your home, help you plan out your design and ensure that every detail is up to your standards.
- We value transparency. Our design team will quote you with a flat price free of hidden fees. We’ll also work with your budget and find a stress-free financing option that caters to your lifestyle.
- We stand behind our work. Take it from our satisfied customers — we make it our top priority to provide you with a porch you can be proud of and enjoy for years to come.
Don’t wait another season to enhance your home. Allow one of our experienced contractors to provide you with a free in-home consultation. They’ll help you design and plan out your new living space so that it meets and exceeds all of your expectations. Call Sunshine Contracting today.