Residential Architecture:  5 Ideas on How Increase Your Home Living Space with Screened Porches

If the words “screened porch” make you think of your old neighbor’s cruddy outdoor “room” filled with cast-off furniture and dented screens, I’m here to tell you it’s time to think again!

As the proud new owner of a screened porch myself, I can honestly and enthusiastically tell you they can be life changing. Nostalgic, comfortable, cozy, and warm – yes warm, even during our gray Chicago winters!  – screened porches are the best. Read on to find out why all of us at Morgante Wilson love them so much, and what you should know before you build a screened porch:

1. Think of them as a halfway point between inside and out

Screened porches deserve the same care and attention as your family room. Yet it isn’t just another room in your house. Its purpose is to blur the line between indoors and out. You want to feel comfortable, but you also want to feel as though you’re almost outside. Floors should shift to stone, windows to screens, and furnishings to porch-style. Your porch should offer an altogether different experience than indoor rooms provide.

2. Build in key features

Screened porches require protection from the elements, so of course you’ll need a roof and walls. But that’s where the similarity to indoor rooms ends. We like to treat screened porches as four-season spaces so they can be enjoyed year-round, no matter where you live. To accomplish that goal, we incorporate air-tight storm panels in our screens to take the room from summer to winter. And we always, always use radiant heat in the floors, to keep occupants toasty and warm even when the snow is falling.


3. Position it properly

We prefer to site a screened porch on the north side of a house to keep it cool in the summer – as much as 10-15 degrees cooler than it would be on the south side of a house. We also like to include an interesting way to bring in light, such as a cupola, a skylight, or a transom window. That way, the porch will never have that dark, cold, damp feeling. Airy and bright is our motto!

4. Welcome cold weather

I already mentioned the importance of radiant heated floors. Equally important – for mood as well as actual warmth – is a fireplace. It’s magical as the snow falls, and appreciated when the summer sun goes down and a chill creeps into the air. The other thing we love about installing a fireplace in a screened porch is that it both mellows and energizes a crowd. There always seems to be at least one person who’s into showing off their campfire skills. This is when a screened porch is at its best, when it draws people together to make them feel like they’re almost outside but not really outside.  (This is why you never want to put a TV in a screened porch.)

5. Furnish it wisely

Screened porches were invented for nap-taking (not really, but they might as well have been!), so comfortable furniture is a must. But you’re definitely not going to want to run out and grab the cushions every time a big storm blows through. Our favorite outdoor furniture comes from Janus et Cie and Brown Jordan. Both offer gorgeous, care-free, comfortable furniture options that withstand the elements with style.

If you’re thinking you, too, might enjoy the charms of a screened porch, give us a call. We’ll even pour some lemonade!

Fred Wilson
Morgante-Wilson Architects
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Read other related posts by Chicago residential architects Morgante-Wilson:

Five Ideas for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen
Lifestyle Inspiration: Vacation Home Architecture and Design
Residential Architecture: How Lifestyle Drives Design



Morgante-Wilson Architects provides residential architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia

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  • Leesa Beecham | August 17, 2016

    Love your newsletters and being able to see what new and beautiful projects you’re involved with!

    Regards, Leesa Beecham


    • Morgante Wilson Architects | August 17, 2016

      Thank you Leesa!


  • Carol Beitler | August 16, 2016

    Gorgeous screened porches!


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