by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on August 13, 2013
It’s a rare opportunity to combine whimsical impulses with having a good night’s sleep. So the comeback of sleeping porches is truly a breath of fresh air. With little time for many beyond their cars and cubicles, these screened-in structures are an easy and comfy way to fit in some quasi-outdoor time. And as these examples show through adorable beds and vintage effects, it’s pretty much the counter response to the man cave.
So what to do if you don’t live in some late-1800s Victorian farmhouse with second-floor shutters to dramatically fling open? If you’re building your own home, then go crazy; you’ll be including a sought-after feature. If you’re like me, working with an existing home and a little outdoor space, there are a couple options to consider. You can hire a contractor to build an add-on, but that can be difficult/costly/timely to retrofit and significantly change your home’s profile. Or you can build a freestanding structure. (After all, it’s not really a retreat if it’s attached to your house.) For simplicity’s sake, this sounds great to me. So how can it be done really simply without creating a backyard eyesore?
There are some beautiful screened-in porches out there. Some of my favorites are here, here, and especially here. (Get do-it-yourself advice here.) And then there’s as simple as you can get. Or is it?
The prefabrication and module market offers some interesting ideas. There are a few options out there for porch modules that you can add onto your prefab-fabulous compound, but those are conceptualized as interchangeable pieces. But the market is exploding with modern prefab sheds that look great. Some of them just might work.
Some of the modern sheds have wide front openings and operable windows for which it would be a relatively easy task to place magnet-lined mosquito nets inside of. The shed option makes it possible to skip the vinyl drapes and waterproof fabrics by offering a sleeping space that can be easily and prettily sealed up when not in use. It will also keep out the storms, tiny bugs, and the slow destruction of furniture in places with wind or intense daytime heat. As a bonus, these sheds typically have a small footprint and don’t require local building permits.
Such an adapted sleeping porch can be positioned at the perfect angle to catch a property’s crosswinds and to face the sunset. And few installations require the drama of a helicopter drop-in. Many prefab sheds are designed for flat-pack delivery with a relatively short build-up, some as minimal as a weekend project.
So which sheds have wide openings, windows for cross-ventilation (or a lot of doors), and just enough room for your bed? Modern Shed might be the most popular prefab supplier, with a Northwest style shed best befitting open sleeping quarters at about $17,000 USD. You can configure a small, stylish structure at Studio Shed to have a full-glass front with double doors and operable windows for about $11,000. While we’re throwing around big numbers, I would love to adapt the pavilions made by UK-based Ecospace. (Convert the cost at your own peril.) Stateside, MicroStructures allows you to configure a shed/sleeping porch in any way you see fit, starting at $5,000 and topping out around $10,000. And MetroShed offers a pretty basic box for about $8,000.
In terms of combining aesthetic wish fulfillment with the likelihood of affording such a space, MicroStructures models might be the best option. I’ll continue to wish for a cozy space to read and nap as the kids play in the backyard. But there’s always the hammock.
For a compilation of research, visit: https://annotary.com/collections/19090/the-sleeping-porch.