Dog Days on a Screen Porch

The Retreat is the name our friends have given their get-away home in Western Wisconsin. It is aptly named because it is as suitable to a quiet weekend escape as it is accommodating an active group. In any condition, it always involves good food and great friends!

Visitors enter the retreat on grade and ascend a stair to the main living area. The room is long and tall, with a high south-facing clerestory—or band of windows—and a continuous north-facing view of woods, wildlife, and creek. Known as “the campground,” the area beneath the living room shares the magical view but has long been open to the elements and reserved for overflow sleeping of the adventurous and those that snore.

Architect Bryan Anderson Screen Porch

Whether it was truly an increase in summer temperatures, or a long-simmering desire for a hot tub, the owners asked if I would help them fill in “the campground” with a porch and locate a hot tub. As a regular guest and future beneficiary of both, I was thrilled!

In many ways, the space designed itself, but three carefully considered factors made it sing:

First is the location of the hot tub. Many have been surprised by its location outside the natural protective cover of the living room. This occurred for two reasons: when one is enjoying a hot tub, I firmly believe they should either see the stars or feel the snow; second, one should avoid supplying warm, humid area to the underside of any living space! We also set the hot tub into the hill so that one can easily step in from the porch level and the view from the porch is maintained.

Second, the screen panels are divided to align with the windows in the living room above. This is not evident from the porch, but can be perceived as you walk along the retaining wall at the perimeter, and I like to believe equally appreciated by flora and fauna alike. The walkway will eventually include pavers set in greenery to serve as a transition zone between porch and forest.

Architect Bryan Anderson Screen Porch

Finally, there is the floor. The porch could have been a simple concrete slab, and in fact, one does exist above the sand base, but it is sloped to drain moisture away from the foundation and support a finished wood deck. The warm, elegant wood gives the impression of being in a finished room rather than the old “campground,” while the senses tingle under gentle forces of nature all around.

The owners and I are thrilled with the result, but no one is more satisfied than Kirby, a Yorkie-Poo and frequent guest, who enjoys the shady, breezy floor perhaps more than anyone.

Architect Bryan Anderson Screen Porch

Is there a part of your house or cabin that needs a polishing touch that you can't put your finger on? Bryan shows an example of an addition he recently designed for his own home in a prior post called Originial Bookcase? It's another great example of a modest alteration that transforms a space. For more on Bryan's clever modifications along with wonderful design, visit his profile page