This versatile, relaxing porch-that-isn’t-a-porch brings the outdoors in—literally.
Text by Robert Kiener Photography by Rob Karosis
“It’s a porch, but it’s more—a lot more—than just a porch,” says architect Rob Carty with a broad smile as he describes the novel open-air space his firm, TMS Architects Interiors, designed for a vacation home overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. “It’s really an outdoor living room.”
During the home’s design phase, as his clients explained how much they loved the grounds and the views from their new lakeside lot, Carty came up with the idea of “the porch that isn’t a porch.” While his design for the three-story home, which he describes as a melding of the White Mountain camp, Adirondack, and Western timber-frame vernaculars, included generous patios and decks, Carty wanted to give his clients a covered outdoor space they could enjoy year-round.
Instead of enclosing the space with walls of windows or framed screens, Carty chose custom-made retractable roll screens. “Because they are hidden away in the woodwork and can be lowered or raised at the touch of a button,” explains builder Glenn Farrell of YFI Custom Homes, “they allow you to change the feel, and look, of the room instantly.”
With the screens raised, the room opens seamlessly onto the adjoining terrace and stone staircase that leads to a lower terrace, the lawn, and a pathway to the lake. Lowered, the screens make the room both cozy and bug-free. A built-in grill and a fireplace add to the porch’s versatility.
Like the house itself, the space boasts a wealth of natural materials including Blue Mist granite for the flooring, flagstone on the fireplace, straight-grain fir on the ceiling, and durable Port Orford cedar for the timber framing. The owners chose sturdy resin-wicker outdoor furniture and decay-resistant ipe tables to withstand the region’s ever-changing weather. The result is a room that provides the backdrop for everything from cookouts to quiet time.
“The owners are very outdoorsy people, and they have told us they use this space throughout the year,” says architect and interior designer Cristina Johnson. “It’s one of their favorite places to kick back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of their natural surroundings.”