Sharon Iverson’s front porch has served many purposes through the years. When she bought her Beaverdale house in 1996, there was just an overhang above the front door and a concrete step that led from the house down to the yard. She decided she wanted a porch on the historic home so she and her children could better enjoy the front yard. She hired a local company to enclose a second door on the front of the house, replace it with a window, build the large porch the length of the house and construct a pergola over the top of the porch.
“It was exactly what I envisioned,” Iverson says today of the outcome.
The porch was what she needed for her children during their toddler years.
“At the time we had young children, and it was kind of a living space outside,” Iverson says. “I could seal off the entry way, and it was kind of a big playpen for the babies.”
Her older children would set up lemonade stands in the front yard, while their younger siblings could be kept safe on the porch under her careful eye but still be part of the action.
“I could see all of the activity of the older kids” from the porch, she says.
The location of the porch on the north side of the house also allowed for it to be shaded in the afternoon, and, therefore, a place for the kids to play even on hot days.
Iverson’s children have since outgrown use of the porch — the oldest is 20 and the youngest is 12 — so its use has returned mostly to her.
“It’s a porch for my cats and me,” she says. “The cats like to be out. They’ve kind of taken the place of the babies and the toddlers. They can go out and watch everything and the birds, but they’re not supposed to leave the porch.”
Iverson has decorated the porch with a mixture of an iron bistro table and chairs and wicker chairs. She’s planted flowers including impatiens, geraniums and ivy in pots and window boxes. A baker’s rack sits outside the front door and is home to many potted plants.
Iverson sits out on her front porch every day. She enjoys the shady times and when the natural light shines through the pergola slats. She likes to read on the porch or sit in the white porch swing that her father built. Her parents live in the same neighborhood, so they spent time at her house swinging on the porch, as well.
Roof-top deck gives couple their own escape
Justin and Annie Doyle have their own private get-away at home that they like to retreat to almost every evening.
One top of the couple’s three-season porch is a balcony that leads out from their master bedroom and Justin’s home office. The only access to the 600-square-foot roof-top deck is through their bedroom, which Justin says makes it their own private space. They enjoy sitting on the deck, which overlooks their backyard, and reading or enjoying a drink after they put their five children to bed. The space is mostly used during the evening time because it can be too hot to enjoy during the afternoon.
“It’s kind of a nice, quiet escape,” Justin says. “We’re high enough up that we’re surrounded by trees.”
Below the roof-top deck is the three-season porch that the Doyles are in the process of having made into a four-season porch. Windows are being installed, and the floor was tiled. The couple home schools their children and doubled the size of their house in 2008 in order to have a classroom and other space for schooling. The porch opens up from the classroom and was recommended by the architect as part of the addition.
The Doyles use the space for entertaining, hanging out, relaxing, and eating their meals. Sometimes the Doyle children make crafts in the space, or the couple gardens. Justin says they want to be able to use the porch all year long, so heat also is being installed.
“It’s a very multi-functional space,” he says.
Back deck and sunroom allow couple to stay close to nature, gardens
Walk out onto Ron and Jan Stehl’s back deck and immediately you’ll see one of Jan’s “flower beds.”
Jan, an avid gardener, wanted to do something fun on her deck. She had several potted plants on the deck and decided to cluster them together and place them inside an antique iron bed frame she had to create an actual “flower bed.”
“I thought ‘What am I going to do with this?’ ” Jan says. “I had all of these plants, so I thought to make a flower bed.”
Inside the “flower bed” sits various potted plants including a fern and geraniums. In addition there are wooden bird house cutouts, landscaping rocks, a rusty iron rooster and various figurines.
The Stehls didn’t always have the large deck and sunroom on the back of their house. When they bought their Beaverdale home 34 years ago, there was a small postage-stamp size deck on the back of the house that opened up to the back yard from a lower level of the house.
Then in 1997, they opened up a back window, put in sliding glass doors and decided to build a deck from the upper level of the house. Then they built a larger deck and enclosed part of it to create the three-season porch. They use the porch almost every evening. The sun porch is decorated in somewhat of a tropical theme with parrots and palm-tree themed items, as well as lots of rooster items from Jan’s former décor obsession with them.
The couple also enjoys entertaining friends and spending time with them in their sun porch and on the back deck.
“We just live out here,” Jan says.
Two red Adirondack chairs sit on the back deck. Jan and Ron sit there at about 7 p.m. most evenings and drink a cup of coffee before they go to bed.
“We watch our birds,” she says. “We’re bird watchers.”
The couple has attached several bird feeders to the back of the deck. They’ve seen everything from cardinals to finches to doves. One night the Stehls were sitting outside with another couple and spotted an owl in an oak tree on their property. All of a sudden they heard a noise. The owl had spotted a rodent and went after it with widespread wings.
“What a whoosh that made,” Jan says.
The height of the deck allows the Stehls and their guests to look down into the backyard and Jan’s flower gardens. There also is a large green rectangular space that the couple uses to set up a table for their dinner parties. Jan hosts one each week for four weeks during the summer and has been doing it since 2008. She says the movie “Chocolat” inspired her to start the parties. Each time a new group of 14 friends comes together for an evening of food, drink and good conversation. It’s four different groups with four different sets of commonalities and interests.
“The first time I did it, my guests were just blown away,” she says.