Sleeping porch to

littlesmokieJune 3, 2010

Hi folks

1913 colonial here. Converting a former sleeping porch to a kids bathroom.

(It is currently a 60's era paneled den)

Wanting to return that feel of the original sleeping porch. Planning some horizontal lap siding for walls and/or a beadboard ceiling.

Fortunately, the room still has what I imagine are the original rough openings along the one long wall (has that large porch "wall of windows" feeling, though of course they are currently 60's-era sliders.)

I've google searched for images, but looking for guidance on What windows you'd select: casements? double hung? picture windows would look nice, but would like them to open for fresh air/ventilation.

Privacy is an issue as one of the rough openings is located where the combo shower/tub will be...

Can't decide whether to obscure glass somehow on that window or just wall that opening in for privacy/practicality. Worried either option would greatly detract from the look and feel of a sleeping porch.(Note the porch is on the back of the home, but still...)

Many thanks for any thoughts,


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I love sleeping porches. Wonderful wonderful things we just don't have here in the Pacific North West (it wasn't that hot).

We looked at two homes in Minnesota though that I really thought had outstanding sleeping porches (both huge stone mansions so they should have LOL). I think those pictures are on the computer that is in the shop...I'll be picking it up next week. I believe that the 1914 home (called French House) was the one that had these fabulous gold glass windows on the sleeping porch...the kind of glass you would expect to see used in a stained glass. Very obscure. They opened by tipping forward from the top and could be removed entirely for the hottest part of the summer but I was told the gold glass was original because the original owner had an issue with her eyes and it was too bright with normal windows. It was a wonderful room. It just glowed. They were tall panels, maybe 24" wide or so (I'm guessing...30?" and from about 3' up the wall to nearly the top of the ten foot ceiling).

The other was 1915 and it had fixed panel windows of the same (or similar size...narrow and tall) in frosted glass. The glass came from their business (we guess because it had pharmasutical (spelled terribly wrong) images etched in them). Again very pretty. Those panels swung outward or could be removed for screens in the summer.

We saw a lot with plain clear glass as well but both of those rang bells when I saw your post.

In yours, for the shower portion I'd consider some sort of stained or colored panel glass where your shower is (totally obscuring the shower) or you could consider walling off whatever windows are there with fake curtains in them (between the cement board and the windows) so that from the outside it would look like the windows were still there, but just closed curtains, and from the inside it could be a normal tiled shower wall. I did this in my house in alaska because we built a wall that intersected with a bank of windows. It looks like it always has from the outside.

I had this done by a professional though. The window inside was sealed well against leaks. The window actually has latches on the outside to open the window with (it's on the third floor and inaccessible unless you can put a ladder in a lake and the latches aren't obvious). The latches are there so we can periodically check to be sure everything is sealed well and to access the space to recaulk inside when necessary. It does not build up condensation, and works great. We've had it for four...maybe five years this way and it's solid still.

That would give your shower folks a bit more privacy (because even stained glass allows shadows) or you could use a curtain that you can pull all the way around on the inside and leave the windows be (sealed well though since they're in a shower area).

Now that I've filled your brain I'll suggest one other stop. You should join the oldhouseweb . com as well as garden web. You'll find a much more active group of helpful fools who also own old homes who would LOVE to tackle your issues :) We live to tell others how to live in their homes there LOL (In a friendly way).

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 9:03PM
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We have a sleeping porch, I'll post some photos below. Please excuse the state of it, I'm in the very slow process of painting it.

From one direction:

From the other:

Close up of window:

Beadboard wall below windows and painted floor (that will also be repainted):

The different moldings and walls: lap, beadboard, molding around and a bit of the beadboard ceiling

My favorite, the beadboard ceiling:

For the shower area, I like Igloo's idea of frosted glass. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 10:34AM
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Thank you both-so much!!-for your responses! I'm sorry I didn't get back to this thread before now-juggling a bit too much between remodeling a kitchen, 3 bathrooms, and a bedroom at the same time.

funny enough, I am in the PNW! I've toured a few homes around here who have them. In fact there was an untouched but rundown Craftsman a few years ago in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland that was still in use as a sleeping porch and I realized in hindsight that sleeping porch was the main reason I was interested in the house!

It didn't actually occur to me that the windows would be entirely removed for the summer in favor of screens, then put back on the rest of the year. Duh-I'm looking at all these picture windows thinking-but there's no air circulation, how can this be a sleeping porch! -LOL

I am nervous about having a window behind the bath/shower. While your solution is pretty ingenious-it just doesn't seem like a great solution for me. (History has shown me I do not attend to all home maintenance as I should, and a window there would have to be something I'd really need to stay on top of!)

autumngal: no apologies for your photos needed, I love your sleeping porch! and I also love your favorite-the ceiling. You posted at the perfect time for me as I've spent hours researching and configuring sample windows for this room. It's interesting that you have double hungs all separate units, which my architect was just saying would be more historically accurate than doing say a 2 or 3 operator unit.

Update: Right now, I have an interior elevation showing 4 individual double hung units with a big gap where the shower/tub goes! It looks right enough from the inside, but I fear that when I see the exterior elevation (expected tomorrow) I might realize how ridiculous of a compromise solution that is! (It would only just be the neighbors behind us that would see that the most, but I'd see it when I'm out enjoying the backyard.

If I'm honest with myself, I think that is a better solution though than worrying about keeping a window dry or using privacy glass on the lower half of all the double hungs (to match the privacy glass I'd need for the shower/tub window.)

Ah, the usual aesthetics/history vs reconciling modern function debate.

Thank you again to both of you! :)

PS igloochic thanks also for the other forum suggestion. I'd never seen it. maybe I'll "see" you around there too.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 8:27PM
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This is just a comment here, and won't impact your decisions about YOUR sleeping porch.

First, we visited Eleanor Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, and were privileged to tour the upstairs. Off her austere bedroom, there was a sleeping porch screened on three sides and there was a single plain metal framed bed. The floor was painted, the view overlooked the old swimming pool, where Franklin would frequently come to visit her and swim. (They had a most strange marriage.)

Second. As a child, I'd go for weekends with my best friend to an old "bay house" that had been in the family for a couple of generations. It was on a high bluff on the east side of Mobile Bay, neighboring Eddie Stankey's HOME PLATE. Their cottage had a single core bedroom with about 3 beds in it, and a small kitchen. The heart of the whole cottage was a very wide L-shaped screened porch which faced the cliff and was shielded by huge ancient moss draped live oaks. Sunsets there were spectacular. But in the summer, two of the single beds would slide out from the enclosed bedroom. There was what I'd call a "doggy door" just a wood flap on the wall at the head of both beds, and it was through this that the beds slid out onto the screened porch. That is where my friend and I slept in cool mosquito-free comfort.

Also, around the perimeter where the screens were, there were mostly glass windows in frames which would be pulled up to the ceiling via pulleys or something similar, where they'd be out of the way. In bad weather, I'm sure these came down and were secured against hurricane winds and rain. But we were not there when this happened.

In those days, the family summered "across the bay" and the papa worked in the city all week and came for the weekends. It was not that far really, but this was a tradition.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 12:48PM
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Would a typical enclosed porch be able to support the weight of a filled bathtub? Did you look into doing any structural reinforcement?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 10:17AM
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I would think that the windows should match or somehow tie-in to the rest of your windows. Consider how the exterior of the house will look with the new windows and how they look with the other ones on that side of the house.

I would also consider the load issue carefully and get some professional advice. Our house has an upstairs sleeping porch that is just screened in and when we discussed the possibility of enclosing it to make a master bath our contractor friend said that it might not have been built to be strong enough to take the weight of added windows and bathroom fixtures.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:25PM
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Thank you all for these additional responses!

First I want to reassure both prupie and donaldsg, oh yes, we are (unfortunately!!) spending over 10K on structural reinforcement for this property, including reframing the entire wall that sits underneath the sleeping porch.

An aside here, but I must urge anyone reading---If you are considering purchasing a property that you plan to make major changes to, do consult with a structural engineer before you close on the sale! Ask me how I know...

We'd had an inspector and two different very reputable contractors out to look at the addition we planned. We spent thousands with an architect on the design and the contractor we ultimately selected brought in the engineer for a consult and the whole house of cards came crashing down, LOL. Not a laughing matter, crushing really.

I wouldn't have bought the house knowing we couldn't add on (well one could do it, but not without spending tens of thousands of dollars.) I have faith that we were led to this house for a reason and am just trying to trust that we will still be happy there.

Back to the porch/bath windows, I am ordering 4 of the 2 over 2 divided lite double hung windows and am crossing my fingers it will in fact keep the spirit and flavor of the home's origins, but give me the practicality and privacy of not having a window in my shower, LOL

PS mocassinlanding, you really painted a wonderful picture with that description of the moss draped oaks and sparkling sunsets of your friend's porch. Sounds like a wonderful childhood memory!

Thanks again, all :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 2:37AM
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Littlesmokie - Sorry this post is a bit after the fact. We have done exactly what you are doing & it was very successful! We converted a screened porch in our 1913 craftsman into a master bath (the other porches had already been glassed in as sleeping porches). We chose to position the shower enclosure on the interior wall of the porch and the 2 vanities on the exterior wall. We installed lots of casement windows similar to the others in the house and on the exterior wall where our vanities are (or where the shower is in your case) we installed exterior shutters on the outside. So, when one looks at it from the outside, the fenestration pattern is uniform, it just looks like some of the windows' shutters are closed. You can have your carpenter trim out that space as if there were windows & then install shutters over it. Also, since it is on the second floor, we were able to raise the ceiling and trim it out with beadboard. We think it looks great & really in keeping with the house.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 9:38PM
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