Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, February 4, 2019

Converting a Covered Patio into a Four Seasons Room

Earlier this year we embarked on a significant project that was our first major renovation to our home since we purchased it eleven years ago. We've invested most of our time and effort to garden design with a multitude of projects over the past 8 years including a new front stoop, retaining walls, stone stairs and walkways around the house, brick and wrought iron fencing wildlife pond, stack stone walls, raised kitchen beds and curved wall with seating area and fire pit.

From our wish list of projects, we've finally come around to the back deck. A place that has been deteriorating over the years; warping wood, nails popping out of the floor planks, all surrounded by declining shrubs that didn't fit our style. Over the years I've tried to spruce it up, but it really just needed to be redone. It was time to turn this deck into a usable, welcoming space where we want to spend lots of time.

The before photo: covered back deck surrounded by Indian Hawthorne shrubs
After much contemplation and discussion, my husband and I decided to invest in making this space a room that could be used during all seasons. Enclosing the back deck was the solution. This process began in 2017 when we had an architect draw up plans. In January (2018) we began interviewing contractors. We soon discovered that it is much harder to find people to work on a 'small job' than we imagined. It wasn't until June that we had a contractor signed with construction beginning in August. 


We kept the framing of the original back deck since it was structurally sound, maintaining the same footprint. The railings, flooring and interior ceiling were all removed.




We considered several outdoor decking options. It was important to find a durable yet attractive flooring, as this is a high traffic area and soon to be home to many plants. We decided on a composite decking called Moisture Shield which is easy to maintain and earth friendly, as it is made from 95% recycled material. We also liked the tongue and grove (with hidden fasteners) option so that the flooring would be tightly sealed keeping critters and moisture out of the room.


After the flooring was installed, the framing went up. The view already felt more open and connected to the garden without the obstruction of the former railings and shrubs.



We selected floor to ceiling windows to let in as much light as possible. French doors on the east side allow for large items to be moved in and out of the room, and are flanked by two long windows. Two sets of sliding doors were installed on the north side of the room to provide easy access to the [grass] area that will become a patio/outdoor living space (next post-coming soon). Originally I had my heart set on folding doors here but they would have significantly increased the cost of this project. It turns out the sliding doors are very practical and work beautifully.

Exterior view with doors and windows installed
The east side view looks out to the turf and flower beds. The west view looks out to the pond and woodland garden.

interior view of double doors looking east to flower beds 

full wall of windows looking west to woodland garden
The tongue and grove white pine ceiling and bead board walls provide a brightness to the room. I really like the light wood, so when it came time to choose a color I selected an almost clear stain called Pickled Oak, keeping the natural look of the wood. 



The exterior was sided with cedar shingles, which complements the window dormers on the house. The project finished up in early December with painting, staining, hanging of ceiling fans and hardware installation.

Exterior east side with French doors flanked by full windows
With the structural part of the room completed, it was now time to decorate and bring in the furniture and plants. As the back wall was still the original [exterior] house siding, I decided to paint it a dark blue (Naval SW6244), hopeful that the wall would fade into the background allowing the plants and wall d├ęcor to be the focal point.


Shopping for furniture was easy. My husband and I walked around a local, family owned, outdoor furniture store and immediately fell in love with this set. Made from Ipe wood, it is durable and easy to care for.


A couple of floating shelves provide a great place for plants and some fun art from our travels. The dresser was pulled from another room and is a handy place to store items.


Various plants from around the house and a few that come indoors for the winter were set in front of the wall of windows, soaking in the winter sunlight. The 4 tiered stand was previously in our bedroom, but works better in the all season room as a plant stand.


Flanking either side of the French doors are more plants. A large container of Bougainvillea has been flowering non-stop since we moved it here. It loves its new environment.


A Ficus tree that was gifted to us from a friend stands tall in the other corner. This tree has been moved many times around our house and never seemed to fit anywhere properly. Happily, this room provides the right scale for this tree and it looks at home here.


Our new addition has become the most popular room in our home. We can sit comfortably here even on the coldest of winter days and enjoy watching the birds, rain falling or wildlife peruse through the garden. It lifts my spirits as I feel connected to the outdoors while enjoying the comforts of the warm indoors. 


Next post I will reveal the new outdoor living space that we added around the four season room. 

16 comments:

  1. Fantastic! I love seeing your gardens from the new sunroom!

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    1. You'll see more garden in the next post when I reveal the new outdoor space.

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  2. This is wonderful, Karin! It's fun to see the stages of the project from start to finish. I love the blue wall! We used a similar blue paint shade under a chair rail in our dining room. Your furniture and decorative pieces are lovely, too. Enjoy your new room!

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    1. This is my favorite place to sit and write now. I can bring my laptop in there and work away.

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  3. A great-looking space! What an excellent thing to be able to feel “outside” in the middle of winter, or anytime of year, actually, enjoying the garden views.

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    1. I particularly like sitting here with the sliding doors open when it is raining.

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  4. Say what?? It looks amazing and I am incredibly green...with envy!! You know what's funny? We actually had a few people come out to talk to us about the exact same thing last year...our deck is also in a very sorry state and I've been procrastinating on getting anything done as I've always envisioned an addition in that area.

    The only thing is that it would have to be built from the ground up. You are so fortunate that you already had the bones in place & there's no need for central heating. Around here, we would need a full blown addition with forced air heating, etc., otherwise we would not be able to use it in the winter and that means a LOT more expensive than we guesstimated. Apparently construction costs have almost doubled in the last few years...so our project will have to wait a while. I'll be sending this post to my husband...maybe it will entice him to push up our schedule a bit ;)

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    1. Margaret, we decided not to go with HVAC for the room. So far we just put a space heater in there on really cold nights. We'll see if we regret our decision in the summer when it will be HOT. Fortunately we have ceiling fans and can open the windows to get a breeze in there. The room was certainly a significant project financially but so worth it! It has really added to our homes living space and we love it.

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  5. This is gorgeous! What a great new asset to your house!

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    1. Thank you Misti! We are thrilled with how it turned out.

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  6. Love it. We turned our back porch into a year-round room, not quite as spacious as yours, but we spend more time there than anywhere else. Definitely worth the cost.

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    1. It is certainly worth the investment, especially for us gardening people.

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  7. I love it! Congratulations on completing such a well designed project. It adds so much to you house and no doubt your life style.

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  8. What a wonderful space!! It looks so great, especially with the wall color and furniture and all the plants to make it look cozy. You will enjoy spending time in there so much, especially in winter.

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    1. It is my winter retreat, surrounded by plants and warmth.

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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin