There is nothing like a screened porch for enjoying a bug-free summer evening or watching a rainstorm in dry comfort. These three porches solve homeowner needs and enhance their surroundings.

Grown-Up's Treehouse This Chevy Chase, Md., house sits high on a hill; about 10 feet from the new porch, the land drops away. The view from the back of the house is of the treetops. The homeowners and their remodeler, Tony Paulos, president and owner of Block Builders, wanted to capitalize on this leafy aspect. “It's a treehouse for adults,” says Paulos, who worked from a design by GTM Architects, Bethesda, Md.

An addition had been built (not by Block) several years prior. Set on piers, it was imposing and wasn't giving the owners the extra space they wanted. Paulos dug out the addition's bottom floor and built an enclosed, extended above-ground basement.

Adjacent to the addition was a concrete porch above a storage area. Paulos designed it to be part of the transition area to the new porch, which extends out from the house. For a cohesive look, he covered the porch and the transition area with a stained, sealed fir floor; and the PVC-wrapped porch columns match the rest of the rear exterior, where Block replaced the existing vinyl siding with Hardiplank.

rm060401060h2.jpg Photo: Greg Hadley Photography
Photo: Greg Hadley Photography
The porch has a four-windowed cupola on its roof that delivers plenty of natural light; the sides are screens only, as the porch is for seasonal use. The porch ceiling is stained cedar, which gives the room warmth, and, Paulos says, “It has a really open, panoramic feel to it when you're sitting inside.”

Terraced landscaping mirrors the porch's geometry and sets it seamlessly into its lush green surroundings.

Indoor Camping

“The husband [and homeowner] is an avid outdoorsman, and he wanted to feel like he was out in the woods or in the mountains,” says Rick Goldstein, architect and owner of Deck-Wright, Atlanta, Ga., which specializes in upscale decks and porches. Goldstein and his colleague, Greg Harrell, worked on the design.

The program needed to respect the existing vernacular and architecture of the Tudor-style home, deal with an old deck that was strangling a tree they wanted to save, and give the owners a place to park their boat trailer.

The solution is an elegant yet rustic three-story porch housed under a steeply pitched roof. The bottom level, a natural aggregate driveway, houses the trailer; the main level is the screened porch with a loft above, which is accessible only from the master bedroom. “The homeowner was sleeping in his sleeping bag [in the loft] before we even finished,” Goldstein says.

Cedar is used for the post and beams and the roof. The floor is tongue and groove tigerwood, a Brazilian hardwood. Mission-style fixtures stay true to the design.

Contemporary Zen Because Hopkins & Porter, Potomac, Md., had a good relationship with this client after completing a number of major renovations for them, architect Kai Tong says the clients were willing to be more experimental in their design. Tong, assisted by designer Lea Allen, developed a simple but strong semicircular porch that is an apt balance to the long, rectangular house.

Tong considered external, natural elements as well as the clients' basic needs — a screened porch in which to enjoy the yard free from mosquitoes and the ability to view the existing koi pond. The porch's varying roof planes control rain runoff. The water cascades from one plane to another, eventually falling to the ground into a “streambed” lined with river rock. One section of the roof tilts upward to capture views of sky and treetops; another plane of the roof tilts down so those inside can focus on other backyard features.

The main structure is clear fir, and the ceiling slats are clear cedar. The floor is pressure-treated pine, and the screens, in easily removable panels, are custom nylon. Interior design is minimal, with two simple floodlights that shine on the ceiling. Tong says that “the porch is doing exactly what the owners want it to: It embraces their backyard, is functionally connected to what happens inside the house, and gives them good access through two different locations for landscaping tasks.”

Photo: Greg Hadley Photography
Because the site has a steep drop-off, the porch offers a treetop retreat. PVC-wrapped columns match the rear exterior where Block Builders replaced vinyl siding with Hardiplank. The four-windowed cupola atop the porch delivers plenty of light, and the stained cedar ceiling makes the open space cozy. Stained, sealed fir covers the floor. Photo: Greg Hadley Photography
Photo: Courtesy Swing Studios
Photo: Courtesy Swing Studios
This elegant, rustic porch is a triplex: boat trailer parking, a dining and recreation area, and a sleeping loft that's connected to the master bedroom. Photo: Courtesy Swing Studios
Photo: Courtesy Troha/Tutero Group
Photo: Courtesy Troha/Tutero Group
Natural elements play a part in this Asian-inspired design. Varying roof planes control rain runoff, with water eventually cascading into the streambed. The roof tilts upward to capture sky and treetop views. Photo: Courtesy Troha/Tutero Group