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Omaha Magazine

Undercover Fun: A Well-planned Screened Porch Becomes the Ideal Family Hangout

Apr 26, 2023 04:36PM ● By Michelle Horst
thyme & theory

Photo by Mandy McGregor.

May is here! The smells of spring (freshly cut grass might be my favorite) and the sounds of nature are some of the best parts of sitting outside in our yard.

My husband, Ryan, and I want to capture as much of this time as possible. When we started designing our house, it was important for us to create a space where we could be outside and enjoy the seasons with our kids…something better than what our patio alone could offer.

We began with the basics: create an area with enough space to include the entire family comfortably; provide overhead coverage from all the elements; and offer good privacy. Our custom three-season porch meets those needs and more.

To increase function, we installed electrical outlets, a TV cabinet, recessed lights, and a ceiling fan with switches inside the room. We have plans to add overhead electric infrared heaters to extend our enjoyment into the colder months, replacing the propane heaters we are currently using. In hindsight, we should have done this right away. Lesson learned.

During the summer evenings, we use an automatic wall screen to enclose the space and keep the bugs out while we enjoy watching movies or entertaining with friends. It also comes in handy with toddlers, keeping them closeby and out of the direct sunshine during the heat while they play with their water tables.  

 wWith the space being covered and screened in, the patio is much easier to keep clean, as dust, tree pollen, and leaves, etc. are kept out. This is a critical point for me, considering I’m always chasing after kids and because of the construction happening around us. (We’re currently finishing our basement.)

Decorations are kept to a minimum so we can easily adjust throughout the seasons and bring in toys and pool towels. A rug keeps the space grounded and brings an inside-living feel to the outdoor space. Large couches made with easy-care fabric and several tables allow for plenty of comfy seating when entertaining. 

The best part is we can use the porch for the majority of the year.  From sipping coffee in the morning while enjoying beautiful sunrise views to drinking lemonade after swimming in the pool and needing a break from the rays, to curling up in a blanket on chilly evenings with a hot toddy, our family uses the porch to enjoy quality time together month after month. It’s our wish come true.

With that, I am off to enjoy another cup of coffee on the patio. This time by myself. Shhh, don’t tell.

This article is part of a series chronicling the design-build of Michelle Horst's Midwest coastal retreat home in west Omaha. For more photos and decorating ideas, follow her on Instagram #ThymeandTheory  

This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Photo by Mandy McGregor.


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