Back Porch Oasis

View of new deck and backyard pool area.
Photograph by A&J Photography

Bryan and Lori were referred to us by one of our repeat clients, as well as having found us at home shows. We quickly discovered that the network of shared friends goes much deeper. They had remodeling done on their 1990s, two-story, formal home the years prior, but determined that working with a different remodeling company for this project was the right decision for them.

They have a beautiful backyard and a pool. However, the deck that connected them was on the verge of falling down. It was visibly tilted. And besides that, it was too small for what they wanted to do. They want to have enough space to have a sitting area for relaxation and reading, as well as al fresco dining for four. Furthermore, they wanted not just the deck, but a screened-in porch—an area that is shaded, bug free, and where they can enjoy sitting outside even during a gentle rain. They also knew that they wanted a diversity of spaces. They specifically preferred a screened porch to a three-season or four-season room. Their new screen porch provides a connection to the backyard pool area, allowing family to enjoy watching over the teenagers as they play in the pool.

While the front of the existing home and its interior are generally formal in their design and feel, the backyard is different. With the pool, the trees, and the wood fence, it has a much more relaxed feeling. As Senior Designer Dave Duewel went through options with the clients, they chose a fusion of contemporary and rustic elements in a way that uniquely integrates with the home and its backyard. For example, the structure of the porch uses solid-sawn Douglas fir lumber, left exposed, and a tongue-and-groove roof sheathing. These products are stained to a contemporary dark color, nearly black. Meanwhile, the code required the railing system used black aluminum balusters, and the decking is a deep ironwood composite.

Another important function is the grilling deck. They knew that they did not need a large outdoor deck space. Rather, they preferred something that was just enough to place the grill and ensure that it has adequate space around it so that the heat doesn't damage any of the structure or siding. The unique challenge here is that patio doors lead out from the exposed basement below and actually step uphill to the pool deck. So the design had to be very careful to allow for headroom while respecting the views out of the windows and patio doors. Lead Carpenter PJ Ender worked carefully so as to not impact the concrete pool deck, and we successfully installed most footings in the existing landscape beds. These constraints led to the unique angle of the grilling deck, mimicking the shape of the landscaped area and steps below. The only footing which required concrete cutting in the pool deck was one hidden by the stairway.

The result of all this work is a screen porch that fulfills all the needs of clients. There's enough room in the porch for the seating area and the dining table, and they now have a great place where they can be outdoors while others are in the pool. They have a comfortable stairway with a graspable handrail leading down, an important feature not just because of building code, but because of a health issue that one of them faces.

Abe Degnan, owner of Degnan Design-Build-Remodel, helps change lives and solve problems by remodeling homes. A father of six, his passion outside of work is orphan hosting and adoption.

Degnan Design-Build-Remodel
128 Commerce Street
DeForest, WI 53532