Add pillars to 2nd floor balcony and retractable privacy screen?

theresseApril 14, 2010

Hello -

I have a 1913 colonial-revival/craftsman house w/ a sunroom off the side (not very large one) and 3 balconies, including one above that sunroom. While the railings aren't tall enough by today's building codes, I can leave them short for integrity reasons, as far as I know.

This balcony is South-facing and is off our bedroom which has french doors. The problem is that this balcony and likewise our bedroom faces directly into our next door neighbor's bedroom, with only a driveway between us. It's awkward, regardless of the fact that they're pretty unpleasant people! I feel like I can't use that great, sunny space.

I'm wondering if there's a period-appropriate-ish and attractive as well as legal way to sort of mimic our front porch's pillars but on a smaller scale, thereby taking the short fat low pillars presently on the balcony and adding atop them taller, narrower pillars (sort of ceiling height for symmetry w/ the rest of the house, and w/ some craftsman looking molding to help it fit in and have consistency). Our house's trim is white so this would be painted white as well, to blend in. I was thinking the pillars would have horizontal beams at the top, connecting them to the house for both stability and to sort of frame it in and make it look as if it were sort of part of the house...sort of a balcony garden structure from 1913, if you will, or a room w/ no walls or ceilings. It would have manually retractable, waterproof privacy screens, which I've seen online. They seem to be a tightly-woven vinyl mesh kind of material.

It gets pretty windy up there so somehow this structure and the screens would have to be tight and sturdy and held well in place.

Have any of you ever seen anything like this, let alone on an older house (well blended-in)? I assume I'd need a permit, which is fine. Hopefully it won't be *too* expensive.

I'd LOVE to be able to lie out there in the sun w/ just the one side up for privacy from the neighbors, as well as feel I could open my blinds on the french doors to our bedroom and let all that great sunlight in the bedroom! I'd also love to use this space as an observatory (w/ all screens up) for my telescope! The side that faces the street has an annoying street light which would be screened out and which would make observing much, much more enjoyable! We would be gaining a whole new, functional space in the house. :)

Please let me know what you think, and/or if you have any opninions, suggestions, warnings, experience, etc.!

Thanks so much.

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This place looks like it might be able to provide the right type of retractable screen, eh? I called and while it was a brief call, the man said they can be more sheer for sun-blocking only or else can be more for privacy where you can't see through - and he said they come in something like a hundred different colors, and can be retracted either manually or w/ a motor. :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Good luck with it, Theresse! I'd love to see a picture.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 6:11PM
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Quite the project. The retractable shades you found may be just the answer for acquiring privacy. You should be able to replicate the columns, etc., for your craftsman home fairly easily; suggest
Would be interested in featuring your project on our site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Front Porch Ideas and

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 7:49AM
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This would be an interesting house improvement. Well, a friend of mine recently has the same situation with you. She got for retractable screens and got good compliments on it. I have suggested her about the site below. Maybe it can also help you. Good luck!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mirage Retractable Screens

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 3:50AM
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