Gardening and Landscaping
A Screened-In Porch Communes With Nature
Lush forest views provide an idyllic backdrop for a Midwestern family's board games, coffee breaks and warm-weather dinners
To take advantage of the fleeting summer in the Chicago suburbs, designer Cathy Zaeske's clients wanted to create a screened-in porch that would keep the mosquitos at bay but make the most of the beautiful forest views. Zaeske designed and built out a beautiful warm-weather haven on the home's north (forest-facing) side. Braided sisal, Scrabble-inspired pillows and wood accents create a relaxing spot for drinking coffee, playing board games and relishing Midwest summer rainstorms.
Inspired by the warm sunrise glow that greets the space each morning, Zaeske started with a soft palette of creams, whites and honey brown. Hints of black break up the neutral scheme. "The black accents give a place for the eye to rest, break up the monotony and add sophistication," Zaeske says, "and let's not forget, black is practical."
The family of four eats dinner out here every summer night. Natural Pottery Barn curtains soften the lines and give the porch the finished feel of a living room.
BEFORE: During construction, the clients decided to keep the beautiful ceiling exposed but wanted to add a glossy sheen. Two coats of high-gloss marine varnish "will help warm up the varying tones in the ceiling lumber over time," says Zaeske.
BEFORE: The designer incorporated a gabled roof to add natural light and complement the traditional architectural feel of the house. Four skylights and open walls bring in even more light — which is important considering the room's northern placement.
With the help of an electrician, Zaeske converted a stunning root ball sculpture into a light fixture. The other elements of the room work around this focal point. "I like how it brings nature into the space in an unusual way," she says.
An $8 estate-sale room divider, a $5 door from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, spare lumber, spray paint and a twin-size mattress make up this sturdy swing chair. Zaeske assembled the pieces, and her contractor brought it to life. One of the homeowners starts every day with coffee, her laptop and this hanging swing.
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