7 Steps To A Great Outdoor Lounging Space

By Joyanna Laughlin

A simple built-in bench makes the porch of this house by Sarah S

Imagine relaxing on a warm afternoon in a luxurious daybed or hammock with an iced tea and a book. Or falling asleep on a summer night to the scents and sounds of nature, yet with all the comforts of home around you. This is actually part of a growing trend in America: We’re now spending more time relaxing outdoors, and we’re doing it at home by creating outdoor lounging spaces, sleeping porches and other unique outdoor rooms right in the backyard - as shown in Plan 454-12, above.

Then and Now
Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the development of air conditioning, people stayed cool on hot summer nights by opening windows for cross-ventilation and creating sleeping areas (especially for the children) on open porches. Today, with our fast-paced, plugged-in lives, we’ve lost much of our connection to nature and to the outdoors, says Kirsten Ederer Lytle, interior designer and LEED green associate at The Onyx Group in Alexandria, Virginia. “People are being starved of natural light in their homes and offices,” she explains. “Sleeping porches and outdoor lounging areas have all the refreshing and restorative aspects of camping without any of the discomfort or hassle.”

How To Achieve Outdoor Comfort

1. Embrace the view. Design your sleeping porch or outdoor lounging space so that it has a clear view of whatever makes you happy and peaceful. Watch the sun rise or set, enjoy your favorite trees and flowers, look at your pool or fire bowl, or watch the stars come out at night.
2. Screen out distractions. Build your sleeping porch on a side of the house that provides privacy (especially from neighbors) and place a railing around the perimeter for safety. And lay out your outdoor napping nook so that your back is protected and you’re hidden from view. Curtains add a hint of the exotic while taking the place of walls to define the space.
3. Circulate. Build a sleeping porch where you can take advantage of evening breezes, such as placing it off of a bedroom on the second story or near a corner of your house. If you have a screened-in porch, consider installing a ceiling fan to help air circulate.
4. Get covered. A sleeping porch roof can shelter you from the elements (like summer rainstorms) and offers the added benefit of allowing you to hear raindrops on the roof as you fall asleep.
5. To screen or not to screen. If you live in a part of the country that has an abundance of bugs and other unpleasant critters, screening in your sleeping porch might be a necessity. For outdoor lounging areas, citronella candles can work well to keep bugs away.
6. Inviting options. When choosing a bed or sofa, make sure it’s comfortable and inviting. How about a daybed (that doubles as a sofa) or a luxury lounge with white, gauzy curtains that’s right out of a tropical vacation.

Options include daybeds, bed or sofa swings (like the one above from Plan 901-120), hammocks, and sofas. And covers and pillows come in a range of colorful, high-performance fabrics. You can even make your own bed frame out of shipping pallets or plywood.
7. Add accents. A piece or two of casual furniture, a few tropical plants in big containers, a lantern or candles and a wind chime or water feature can add ambiance. A bright outdoor rug completes the room. Whether you’ve just begun thinking about your new home or you’re already reviewing plans, why not consider adding a sleeping porch to the house or designing an outdoor lounging space.

June 21, 2014

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