04/17/09 — Let the sunshine in

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Let the sunshine in

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 17, 2009 1:46 PM

If you are looking for a way to spend more time in the sun but don't want to hassle with bugs or even some of the heat this summer, you might want to consider adding a sun porch or a screened-in porch to your home.

James Daniels with Daniels Custom Home Design can help with designing and building a porch, whether it is as an addition to your existing home or as part of a brand-new home.

Typically, screened-in porches and sun porches don't take that long to build.

"It takes about two to three weeks," he said.

But it helps if the homeowner knows what they are looking for.

A screened-in porch is less expensive, but a sun porch can be used more often during the year.

A 14-foot-by-16-foot screened-in porch that will be added onto a home can be designed and built "turn key" for $10,000 to $13,000, Daniels said.

A sun porch will likely cost around $2,000 more because of the amount of windows that typically line it.

"Most of the time, there are around eight windows in a sun porch," he said.

And if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you still may want to call a contractor like Daniels to build your porch.

"I don't recommend that people try to build a screened-in porch or a sun porch themselves," he said.

The foundation of the porch is a tough job.

And he recommends that homeowners hire experts to do the masonry, framing and roofing work as well to make sure the porch is stable and built well.

Once you get your porch built, then you have to decorate it.

And if you are going to be spending a lot of time in the space, and you likely will with the sun in the skies more and more, why not spruce it up?

Make your screened-in or sun porch just as decorated and styled similar to the rest of your house.

For most people, their porches become a second living room in the warmer months.

But each person uses that room differently.

Just ask Melodie Wood, manager of Blinds & Curtains on Ash Street.

She and the employees at the store design spaces for homes around the area.

And they say that sun porches may be a reading room, a playroom for children or even a dining area or a place to entertain.

First, you have to decide what you will use the space for.

Then, they can assist you in finding just want you want, or they can put together a complete design -- including paint color, flooring, window treatments, furniture and accessories -- for you.

But Ms. Wood suggests starting with window treatments.

"Cellular shades are good for sun porches because they stack really thin and you can keep your view," she said.

You don't want to have long curtains that will block the outdoor space you are trying to bring in, she said.

But blinds are good because "they are really resilient to sun," Ms. Wood said.

Valances are a good way to add color and pattern to the room without hindering outside light from coming in.

And "v" valances, Ms. Wood said, are popular because clients can choose two different fabrics.

"And we can make pillows to match," she added.

Brighter color schemes like yellow and coral used to be popular, but Ms. Wood said that more and more people are moving toward earth tones.

"Chocolate brown is very popular," she said.

Blacks and tans are also popular.

Once you find your color scheme and your window treatments, you can then work toward finding the rugs or carpets and the furniture that you want.

The employees at Blinds & Curtains can help with that, too. The store has many area rugs and carpets available.

But Ms. Wood said that homeowners should shy away from wool rugs in their sun porches.

"The other fabrics are so much easier to clean, and they will dry a lot easier if they get wet," she said.

The store offers a variety of furniture, too, like bright green drawers or black and white polka-dotted lamps, as well as decor items like flower arrangements.

And if you want greenery, Ms. Wood said to make sure that you buy the taller ones, "so they're up and out of the way of your view."

An inexpensive way to boost the color of the space and coordinate it without spending a fortune is to have the employees at the store make place mats, napkins and chair pads in the same pattern or similar patterns that will decorate your eating area.

"And then we can match the window treatments to that," Ms. Wood said.

If you are just clueless about where to start when decorating your sun porch, don't worry, Ms. Wood said. Blinds & Curtains can pick it all out for you and see if you like it.

"We like to go to our clients' homes and see what their style is," she said. "And then we coordinate fabrics to their taste."

For more of a shabby chic style that won't break the bank, you can stop by City Girls on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro to pick up authentic antiques that are inexpensive.

A good way to start with vintage decorating for a screened-in porch if you are a little unsure is to start with two colors.

"Blue and white are good colors on their own," City Girls owner, Patsy McLamb, said.

Then, you can spread out from there -- "like green and white with a little red thrown in."

As for furniture, Ms. McLamb says that you have to make sure that whatever you want to use is OK to get wet.

"Wicker is good and some wood, if it is treated," she said.

In her store, she has many items that would fit well in a screened-in porch, like a distressed ivory wicker rocker or a green-colored wooden and wicker rocker chair.

And it's OK not to stick with one material in your furniture choices, she says.

"Some people have all wicker, and others have a mix," she said.

If you want to add some color to the space, other than your furniture, add in plants or wreaths.

Or you can add "pictures, vases -- anything that's colorful, really," she said.

Even old colored stools or distressed wooden benches -- which she has at her store, too -- work well as plant stands or extra seating, she said.

Collections of old items like water cans or sprinklers will add character to the space as well as provoke interest to those who come to visit your porch.

And don't worry if you mix and match different fabrics, decor and furniture, she said.

"It's all in what you like," she said.