|Before: June 11, before any work was done to enclose our front porch.|
These are exciting times around here, not just because it's summer and lots of flowers are blooming, but also largely because there has been rapid progress in enclosing my front porch into a sunroom where I can enjoy plants and flowers during our long, cold winters here in Iowa.
I have long desired a classic, glassed-in conservatory of the kind that are common in England, but the cost of constructing and then heating such a room is prohibitive here. Here in the US, with our extremes of heat and cold, a sunroom with a solid roof is much more practical.
We have a porch with a roof and floor already (it was enclosed with screens when we bought our house eight years ago, and we had those removed and ended up having to totally re-build the rotting columns and floor five years ago, so it's pretty solid). So I decided that the easiest and most affordable thing was to simply enclose our existing porch with walls and windows. (Here is my post last winter when I desperately longed for greenery amidst our snow-covered landscape, and considered the sunroom idea.)
I was somewhat concerned that I might ruin the look of our 1924 farmhouse (and I still remain concerned about that issue), but my winter desperation greatly outweighs those concerns. So after my very generous dad offered to help us with the cost, I called my builder this spring and we got started planning, and, finally, building!
The scene in the photo above was taken on June 11, a couple of days before construction began two and a half weeks ago. We invited some friends over and had a "porch farewell" party that evening, as that was the last time we would be able to enjoy our open porch (it was a bit sad thinking about it, but it was also about 95°F that day and almost every day since, which illustrates why we hardly ever actually sat on our porch: too hot, too cold, too windy, too snowy, too buggy, too humid, or simply too busy to sit outside at all).
Anyway, here is a progress report in photos, taken over the past two and a half weeks:
|June 21: The walls have been framed in to hold the windows (our builder used 2x6 construction to support the weight of the heavy double-window units. The ceiling has been framed down so that it can be insulated.|
|June 22: The next day, after the electricians have installed the rough electrical wiring. they'll come back to install the fixtures and baseboard heaters after the interior has been finished.|
|June 27: The spray foam insulation guys used tarps to enclose the porch and then spray 3-4" of closed cell spray foam in the ceiling, under the floor and in the wall space under the windows.|
Still to be done:
- installing the dropped ceiling
- finishing the interior with beadboard and wood trim (which I will then paint)
- installing the electrical fixtures: lights, fan, baseboard heaters, etc.
- finishing the exterior with siding and exterior trim, which the builder will paint
- I will then paint the floor -- I'm thinking perhaps of a light gray and white stenciled design of some kind, but I'm open to suggestions....
As I mentioned, I'm still worried that I might be ruining the look of our old-fashioned farmhouse. Now that the windows are installed, they look absolutely huge to me, out of scale with the rest of our house. I had originally envisioned seven windows across the front (odd numbers being visually more pleasing), but my builder convinced me that three units of two windows mulled together would look less busy and give me more uninterrupted glass (which is good in a sunroom for functional reasons, obviously). And he is right that fewer windows are a simpler, more classic look, but I really am worried that the windows are just too large, especially because they are right out front and therefore look even bigger and more prominent.
Of course, there's nothing to do about it at this point, as $4,000 of special-order windows are already framed in and installed. I guess they do look like a similar size with our existing front door, which with its sidelight windows is even larger, and maybe after they are framed and sided in, they will look better.... Perhaps I'm simply suffering from a common case of "buyer's remorse" or second-guessing my own decisions.
And I really haven't permanently ruined our old house; no historic elements have been removed and if a future owner of our house doesn't like the sunroom, it can easily be entirely removed, leaving virtually no traces on the original design of the porch (which again, we already had restored to its original design five years ago even though it cost more to do it that way -- did I mention that the 90-year-old front header beam under the porch roof was sagging dangerously and we replaced it with an 28-foot-long, engineered-laminate support header beam, rather than change the original design of the porch by adding center supports?). I think we've been pretty sensitive to the historic elements of this house.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the fun parts of this project: choosing some comfy wicker furniture, accessorizing with colorful pillows and an outdoor rug, and of course, filling the new space with lush, green and flowering plants that make me feel like I'm on a tropical vacation every time I enter the room.
|When winter comes from now on, instead of this...|
|I'll have something more like this! No, my ceilings won't be high enough for |
giant palms, but I'll still be able to have some pretty large plants in my own
bright and cheerful sunroom. (Pinterest)
I'll post another update on my sunroom project as we make more progress. Thanks for reading! -Beth