Design Options for a Screen Porch

A screen porch is a wonderful space to be. It’s a transition from inside to outside. It provides shade from the sun and protection from rain. It even keeps bugs away! A porch can have lighting, ceiling fans, built in speakers and more. There is just something comfortable and relaxing about a porch. They are also a lot of fun to design and build.


We have recently started the design process for a new porch and we wanted to share more about the process of custom tailoring this new addition. It is porch season and we thought others might be interested in a behind the scenes tour of how we go about developing a project of this type.


We start with a portion of the existing home and site. In the backyard of the house there is an existing deck, some patio space , a retaining wall, and a detached garage. Access to the deck is through French doors positioned in the center of the home. There is also another door unit on the second floor directly above the first floor unit. Because the area of the deck is where the new porch is to be constructed, the doors above need to be factored in to our design work.

The space planning and program requirements for the project are well defined. The new space must incorporate access to the rear yard via steps, an outdoor deck area for a grill, a side door and access to that area, and should roughly occupy the area of the old deck. Let’s take a look at what the team came up with!


The primary feature of our first option is a gable roof. It provides a peaked ceiling inside the porch. It could be a pretty dramatic space, but it does require changing the second floor doors to windows. The grilling area is located to the left of the porch (in plan). It is close to the kitchen and would allow for items to be passed back and forth through the window conveniently. It also allows as much light as possible into the kitchen space. In addition, this scheme provides access and doors where required.

Because the plan and location of spaces felt “right” we focused our attention on the overall massing of the structure. There is another building nearby- the detached garage. In this scheme, a hip roof was used to pull down the mass of the structure. It will not feel as tall when standing in the backyard, but also requires replacing the doors on the second floor with windows. This roof type blends well with the architecture of the existing house and is a viable option.

The final scheme maintains the second floor door unit by using a flat roof for the porch. A little of the drama will be lost in the porch ceiling, but a second floor deck off the Master Bedroom seems like a nice benefit!

And the winner is….


Well, our clients elected to pursue the flat roof option. The second floor deck space was such a nice feature!


There is still a long way to go to finalize the design of this project. Material selections, construction details, and lots of other decision remain but we are making steady progress. One of those details is the ceiling. Remember that a flat roof means a flat ceiling in the porch. No problem! We can contrast the painted elements and trim in the porch with a stained ceiling to regain some the drama of a higher ceiling.

Here’s an exterior view.

Take a look at the railing. There is a lot of railing in a project like this- hmmm… One way to give the structure a more contemporary aesthetic would be to use cable rail. It’s durable, easy to maintain, simple to clean, and introduces a horizontal line to a very vertical project.

This project is still in development. We are working with this client to make sure this space ends up being exactly what they want it to be. That’s our job.


Huge thanks to Designers Kevin Shore, Kwasi Hemeng and Project Developer Michael O’Hearn for all of the design, development and modeling work on this project ! We can’t wait to see the completed project.

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