Please review screened porch layout and advise

scrappy25August 23, 2014

Greetings, I am adding a screened porch behind my dining room. There are outswing double french doors (6 foot wide) from the dining room to the porch. These will swing out over a wide step that will be about 2+ feet in depth and wider than the width of the French doors. The height of the step will be about 7.5 inches to the porch level. This is designed so that the height of the porch from the ground level can be less than 30 inches above the ground, which is the height at which a railing is required in our county (therefore this porch will not need a railing by code). The porch will have the Ezebreeze panels that have the "plastic" sheeting windows over the screens. The single door on the left side opens to a deck.

I was playing with the furniture layout so that I could better determine where to place the ceiling fans and outlets.

Please review the layout and the walking distances. I know they are a little tight but we are on the small side relatively.

The first diagram does not include the measurements so that you can see the placement better. There is a ceiling fan over the loveseat pair and another over the table. The double outswing door from the family room is drawn in but not the step.

The second diagram includes the measurements (sorry for the dark black bars, it is my first time using this software). The "rug" just outside the dining room door represents the location of the needed step.I need advice as to the desired depth and width of that step given the proposed pathways and how the French doors would swing open.

The porch can expand a little bit lengthwise but the width is fixed.

Here is the first layout without walking distances and the step down. The french doors are each 3 feet wide for a total of 6 feet.

Second diagram with the measurements and the Stepdown (represented by the "rug", current 2 foot short width in the diagram.) Sorry for the dark black bars, it is my first time using this software.

Would appreciate your advice!

Can you address these specific questions
1. Would you center the ceiling fans over the furniture as in this diagram or align them more on the porch dimensions? The lattter would place the ceiling fan over the sofa backing to the screened doors instead of the coffee table. I am intending to have recessed lights placed slightly outside the radius of the ceiling fans so that I do not get the "strobe" effect.
2. How wide and deep (front to back) should the step be that the french doors swing over? It will be a standard 7.5 inches height. Would you extend it more to the right than I have it depicted (with the "rug") ? Should the left bookcase nearest the double doors be omitted so that the step can extend further?
3. Where would you put floor outlets around the loveseat pair? Probably will be using electronics there as well as at the table.
4. I was going to put 3 way switches for the ceiling fans and lighting on the left side of the french doors (porch side) and the house side of the single door to the deck (porch inside).However, I can see that might not be the best plan by the french doors since the doors will block the switches when they are open. Would you instead put those switches on the dining room side beside the french doors? Do you think I need wall mounted lights aloingside the french doors? Again , that might be a problem with the outswing doors.

Thats all for now! Thanks in advance for any help.

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Hello, Scrappy, and welcome!

The first thing that caught my eye is the design of the doors with the step. I think that you're creating a significant traffic jam area here which might even prove somewhat dangerous.

Trying to negotiate the doors and the step and the couch... walking in and out, opening the doors, stepping up and down and around... I don't think you'll be happy with this arrangement.

Is there any possibility of using sliding glass doors instead? This will save a tremendous amount of floor space, create a much smoother traffic pattern, and would be much safer to use with your step-down design.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:35AM
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Thanks mclarke, outswing doors are already in place since no other configuration would work with the internal builtins.

Thanks for your feedback, I think that helped me with the following:

After looking at code requirements it looks like the required landing for an outswing door is 3 feet depth which would take it to the back of the sofa in the diagrams. I think it my be best to run the landing full width of the porch, That way it will be more consistent and more of a full width platform one step high. Easier to navigate and predict.

Still would like to see answers to my other questions. thanks!

This post was edited by scrappy25 on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 9:06

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:55AM
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Ah! Already in place. So.

Still thinking about traffic patterns and safety. That sofa backed up to the door will be a problem.

Question. Will the doors be able to open completely? That is, when they are open, can they -- could they -- swing open until they're flush with the wall?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:48AM
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I would put the ceiling fan over the coffee table. The seating area and the dining area are two "rooms" within the space and so the fan would be in the seating area. I also don't care for a fan near the dining table, especially if it is on it will blow the candles. (and now edited to say that you said the fan would be further in the seating area, and not towards the table - still I think over the center of the seating area is good)

This post was edited by andee on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 10:12

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:50AM
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mclarke, thanks, the doors do fully open and can hug the walls in the opened configuration. I am thinking that removing the bookcases along the platform/landing to allow full door opening will allow easier traversing of the step. The sofa will be outside the swing of the doors and since the left door is the primary opening door there should be plenty of space to walk along the left side of the sofa backing to the patio doors. When I get home I will try to redo the layout to reflect these thoughts.

andee, thanks for the advice for centering one fan over the coffee table. I actually have a 2nd fan planned over the dining table since I was told that size porch needed a 2nd fan (I am in Maryland). It is hidden by the table. It is separately controlled so that it does not have to be on when the other one is one.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Couple of questions...

How high will the ceiling be?

How much of this furniture do you already own?

Regarding the lightswitches... in your imagination, where will you be when you're turning these switches on and off? My guess will be that you'll be inside the house. In the dining room. So that's probably the best place for the switches.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:28AM
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mclarke- ceilings will be about 9 feet tall at sides. Cathedral ceiling planned (gable roof).

I have the table and chairs but no other furniture. Would reduce the loveseat backing to the patio doors to a single easy chair.

Yes I have to think further on our use of the lightswitches. thanks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Not answering any of your questions, but have you considered flipping the configuration of the furniture? Put the table where the sofas are and the sofas where the table is now? I thin it would be nicer to not walk out of the French doors and directly into the back of a sofa Is that a television on one wall? Perhaps that means keeping the sofas where they are.

I like the idea of having the switches inside. You don't want to be groping your way through the dark to get inside. I also would put the fan in the center of the room so you are not locked into a certain furniture layout in the future. With 9 foot ceilings, it should look fine.

I adore my screened porch, although it is not as lovely as yours. I have been known to fall asleep out there and wake up in the middle of the night!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:41AM
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Yes, the bookcases would have to be relocated if the French doors are to be fully open.

Let us ask... what do you imagine doing at the table/chairs? Will this be an eating area? Where will the food come from? Will the food come through the dining room? Yep, that's right, just trying to envision traffic patterns.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:13PM
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Then my answer is different if you're going to have two fans. With one over the table, I'd put the other one so the two are symmetrically place in the room.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:16PM
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Two fans? I don't think the room is big enough. Or, to put it another way, I think two fans are too much for this room.

You wrote: "The porch can expand a little bit lengthwise."

This option might be worth exploring. A bit more room would give you more of an "enclosure" for your table and chairs... get them further out of the deck-door-traffic.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Our porch is 11 1/2 x 22 and has two fans symmetrically placed on separate switches, if I were to do it again one would have been enough. I am in Connecticut. I have one light switch on the inside of the house which turns on two table lamps on the porch the other switches are on the porch just inside the door however, I have a french door which opens towards the corner of the porch so no useable wall is covered. There are switchs by the door to the deck for deck lights and for one light inside the porch.

Is the book case intended for books? I would think the humidity would be a problem for them.

I don't think sconces will work on the wall with the doors if you intend to open them all the way, which I would. If you have recessed lights I think that will be enough for general lighting. Are you having a hanging fixture over the table? I do and use it, on low, even when using candles.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:09PM
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dedtired, after reading your comment of napping on the porch, I am going to change the loveseats to a sofa and chair! I think my husband would love that. It will also help with the flow out the french doors.

mclarke, andee, and lindainct, I think you have convinced me to go to one big fan instead of two. I will also explore lengthening the porch a little bit. I will also consider a hanging fixture over the table.

mclarke, the table will be used for eating when we grill out. The grill will be on the deck outside the single door so the table is closer to it in that location.Also we will probably relax there doing some work from home in the evenings. Of course I have heard that once you have a screened porch you may eat out on it everyday whether you grill or not :).

OK sounds like the 3 way fan and recessed light switches should be located inside the french doors on the dining room side and beside the single door to the deck inside the porch. I do have exterior lighting as well for the deck but that will be controlled from the screened porch.

Linda in CT, the bookcases are for generic storage. They are placeholders for now.

Thanks everyone! You are really helping me think this through. I will try to diagram the changes at home tonight and post.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:08PM
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You wrote: mclarke, the table will be used for eating when we grill out. The grill will be on the deck outside the single door so the table is closer to it in that location.

Yes but remember that all the dishes, utensils, napkins and serving paraphernalia must be carried to and from the kitchen. Not to mention all the stuff that will go ON the grill, that steak marinating in the fridge, must be carried through.

And when you're done eating, all the stuff must be carried back into the kitchen for cleanup.

Seriously. I know whereof I speak, because I lived in a house where the grill and the patio table/chairs were all out on the deck... and to get to that door, you had to walk through the dining room and the living room. It was a PITA.

So. Just to keep that in mind.

I don't know the configuration of your deck in relationship to the new addition, but can you consider reversing the two room functions and put the deck door closer to the dining room?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:24PM
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I recommend that you have switches that are both inside and outside (double pole double throw).

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 6:21PM
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You've gotten good advice here. One fan will be plenty for your room. You might even consider adding a light to the fan to provide overhead lighting when needed instead of recessed lights. You could install switched outlets for lamps or wall sconces for your ambient lighting, which is nicer to relax with than recessed lights, unless you put them on dimmers. There would be money saved if you skip the recessed lights and dimmer switch. We rarely use our recessed lights to have accent lighting at night, or to watch television. The spaces between the furniture are too tight to walk through the room with a platter of food or to pull out a chair at the table. You already figured out that the French doors and step are inoperable against the back of the loveseat. How much are you able to extend the length of your room? With a fixed width the 1'4" behind the sofa(loveseat) is too small to walk through. Could you push it back against the wall? Your table area is too tight to pull out a chair with 2' and 2'4" on some sides. Is it possible to use a smaller table for four instead of six? Using a smaller round table with chairs at 2 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 8 o'clock may work instead of pushing them back against the walls. One or two club chairs angled close to the corners of the French doors might work instead of the loveseat at the entrance. You have done a great job drawing the room and measurements. I don't have a program to help you try out different furniture, but hope some sweet soul will come along to assist you. As it looks the room is not large enough to carry out two rooms of furniture, unless you can expand your length. It will be fun watching your progress. This will be a lovely addition to your home.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:32PM
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My naps out on the porch are one of my greatest pleasures. I read while stretched out or sometimes watch a Netflix movie on the laptop. My sofa is full size (80") and I have two chairs. One is a rocker. It's Lloyd-Flanders wicker furniture. I loooove sleeping on the porch!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:57PM
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We had a very good quality futon on the screened porch in our old house. Great for naps and sleeping in good weather

One fan will be enough. Be sure to get one UL rated for damp locations. They have plastic no warping blades.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:57PM
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I have worked on the great suggestions above. Thank you again! I need to change the recessed lighting now also. How many lights do you think this room would need and where? I will use 6 inch cans on a dimmer.

Voila, I am not tied to the current table since there is still room for it on the deck. So a smaller table is possible. Good suggestion abou the switched outlets. The furniture is pulled away from the walls so that the ezebreeze vinyl panels can be moved when desired to expose the large screens. It is not for walking around.
juliekcmo, a futon might be deadly! :)

Here is the slightly longer room with one ceiling fan, a 3 foot deep platform in front of the french doors with one step down, a longer sofa and chair instead of two loveseats.

Here is the same thing except I have flipped the dining area and sofa as mclarke suggested. I have to look at where that new single door location lands with respect to the connecting deck but I can see your point about carrying food and plates in and out of the house.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:15AM
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Question- if I lengthen the room to 20 feet (3 feet for the step down platform), will the one ceiling fan still be enough? It is about 13 feet wide.

mclarke, I have decided that I like having the table closer to the french doors, thank you for that suggestion!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 5:41PM
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I think 20 feet sounds good considering all the furniture you would like in there. I think one fan would suffice.
Have you considered a small sectional for you sofa? Do you have views from your porch? Is the wall solid on the left side of the porch?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 6:50PM
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Love the last layout. I think you've got it!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 8:56PM
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