By Erica Thoits
Here in New Hampshire, we know that warm weather is something to be cherished. Come the first borderline spring day until the snow nearly flies, Granite Staters are out and about in their yards gardening, grilling, hosting friends, reading, swimming and generally living in the out of doors as much as possible.
However, we Granite Staters are also all too familiar with nature's problems - mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, rain and the threat of sunburn, to list a few. It's great to have functional outdoor "rooms" where you can cook, lounge and entertain, but when the winged pests descend or the clouds threaten to put a damper on your plans, it's always nice to have a space ready when you need to retreat. A screened-in porch with access to both your outdoor and indoor areas is a great way to experience the best of both worlds. They can have all the comforts of a living room (couch, TV, refrigerator) with the feeling and smells of warm summer air all around.
"The whole outdoor living area has become really popular," says Greg Rehm of Liberty Hill Construction in Bedford. Many homeowners, he adds, are opting to transform existing space into different outdoor areas, rather than committing to building whole new additions.
The home pictured on the opening page is an example of this. Rehm and Liberty Hill Construction took a 12-year-old deck that had begun to crumble and turned it into a grilling/dining area and screened-in porch. They also included a fire pit - another oft-requested item, adds Rehm - and a hot tub that are surrounded by a landscaped back yard where the family's children can play. All of this was completed in six weeks.
The airy screened-in porch (pictured on page 42) offers the family a place to enjoy the outdoors with all the comforts of being inside. With a television, seating area and refrigerator, it's now a three-season living room.
The use of natural wood in porches like this one is a very popular choice, says Rehm. It offers a cozy cabin-like feel while also offering an easier-to-maintain exterior. Natural woods create an almost rustic feeling, setting it apart from the rest of the formal house.
For the Ball family, who owns the home pictured on the opposite page, the goal of this three-month project was to create an outdoor living area that served a number of different purposes - a place for the kids to play, family gathering space and independent areas for entertaining - around the back yard and above-ground pool.
Above all, homeowner Mona Ball says the project was aimed at giving her family a way to comfortably spend time outdoors outside of the pool.
"We wanted a space that was sort of a combination of indoor and outdoor that we could enjoy with families and kids," she says.
The biggest challenge in completing her vision, says Rehm, was building an aesthetically pleasing structure while working with the height of the back of the house and existing landscaping.
The end result is the addition of a multilevel deck with staircases on both sides. The homeowners also added a new screened-in porch (pictured on pages 40-41).
While the project may have been a challenge, Ball says she and her family couldn't be happier with the results.
"We absolutely love it," she says. "It's our favorite room in the house."
Ball says her only complaint is that the room can't be a year-round fixture.
"I wish the warm weather season was longer here so we could enjoy it more," she says. NH
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