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Porch of the Week: All the Comforts of a Great Room

Photos by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Porch at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple and their two teenage sons
Location: Vienna, Virginia
Size: 700 square feet (65 square meters)
Design-build: Michael Winn of Winn Design + Build

“This was a project that evolved over time,” Winn says. He and his clients discussed at length how they wanted to use the porch and the couple shared photos to help him understand their style. “I always encourage my clients to share inspiration photos in Houzz ideabooks to convey their aesthetic preferences,” Winn says. As his clients figured out what they wanted on the porch, the size of the project grew. And they wanted the style to match the transitional look of the rest of their home.

“The space planning for this porch wound up being very similar to planning a great room,” Winn says. “At our initial meeting we talked about things like how many people they wanted to seat in the dining area and what kind of table they’d like. Then I figured out the size of a table that would accommodate that many people, how much space the table and chairs would take up and factored in ample circulation space around it.”

He also left ample space between the different areas. As his clients determined what they wanted on the porch, including a fireplace, outdoor kitchen, dining and lounge area, the size grew to 700 square feet.

Winn factored the size of the sectional sofa and other furnishings the couple wanted into his space planning. This left plenty of room for circulation and helped him create a comfortable and inviting retreat.

An open gas log fireplace provides a focal point in the lounge area. The surround is tile that looks like wood planks. The hearth and mantel are granite that matches the outdoor kitchen countertop. Winn added the mantel shelf as a heat shield that protects the TV. The fireplace vents out a chimney.

The porch required railings for safety, so Winn recommended cable wire railings. “We chose these for two reasons,” he says. “One, they fit the transitional style of the porch. Two, they provide a minimally obstructed view of the yard.”

“As the space grew so big, we knew it would get dark, so our team suggested architectural skylights to bring light to the center,” Winn says. “These skylights are much more commonly seen in commercial projects like museums. I hadn’t used them on a house before. But I knew standard skylights would feel dwarfed by the scale of the space.” There are two of these skylights, each of which measures 6 by 6 feet. The team had to use a large boom crane to place them. Look closely to see lights around the edge of the skylight that wash light down onto the porch at night.

Winn also knew that an expansive flat ceiling would not be pleasing to the eye. “It would have made the room feel like a box,” he says. So he created coffers with beadboard in between to break up the scale of the ceiling and to add texture and warmth.

Architectural skylights: Velux

There’s an entry from a breakfast area off the kitchen onto the porch, and another door from the porch out to the backyard.

The decking is a durable composite product by TimberTech. For the posts, Winn chose a simple Doric column shape to match the architecture of the home.

Infrared heaters overhead help the homeowners enjoy the porch for three seasons. “I’d say they will use it until the temperature goes down to about 55 degrees,” Winn says.

The homeowners knew they wanted to grill on the porch, and a well-outfitted outdoor kitchen grew from there. It includes beverage fridges, an icemaker, storage and ample counter space for prepping and serving.

The granite countertops match the granite on the fireplace. The strong contrast in the veining adds pattern and movement to the space. The gas grill vents out the hood overhead. Placing the outdoor kitchen in a spot that faces the side yard kept the views to the backyard unobstructed.

Here’s how the dining area and outdoor kitchen fit together. This makes it easy to serve straight from grill to table. Winn also placed the table far enough away from the grill for comfort. “When it comes to space planning, you will almost always need a lot more space than you think you will,” he says. “You don’t want to wind up shoehorning everything in.”

This Vienna, Virginia, porch was a project that evolved over time. Design-build firm owner Michael Winn worked with the homeowners to figure out how they wanted to use the screened-in space. The more they talked, the bigger the porch grew to incorporate a fireplace, an outdoor kitchen, a large lounge space and a dining area. To keep the 700-square-foot space light and pleasantly proportioned, Winn adjusted the design, adding two large architectural skylights and a special ceiling design.

This content was originally published here.

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