Shady Character

By Carolin Santangelo

pergolaThis is the time of year you find yourself seeking out a breezy, shady spot to sit a spell. It is late in the summer, heat is built up in the atmosphere and by now we’re almost weary of it. Even the gulf isn’t very refreshing when it is so warm.

The best house design for our locale will incorporate outdoor areas such as open sun decks with thought given to some kind of shade or cover.  Shady porches are an integral part of most prospective homeowner requests. It is particularly important for those who have spent time on the island before and have a pretty good idea how prevailing wind and sun direction will affect their new home’s livability.

 Recent clients include those whose homes were irreparably damaged by hurricane Ike; their original homesteads having succumbed to a wrecking ball. After the sadness has passed, many of these clients embraced the opportunity to build a new custom home, specific to their family’s needs. Each knows their location well, benefits as well as disadvantages, and none would live anywhere else.

 If budgets permit, most prospective homeowners who have the opportunity to develop new designs, desire covered porches both on the street side — for protected access to front entry — and on the view side — whether that be beach, bay, canal or preserve — for easy access to and from living areas.  While the western sun exposure gets a bad rap, don’t neglect to cover areas that are east facing, which can use a break from summer’s hot early morning sun.

A feature that is being incorporated into covered decks is a screened enclosure, often intended for outdoor dining, with direct access to indoor kitchen and eating areas. Screened–in porches ensure unwanted guests like mosquitoes or other seasonal bugs don’t interrupt outdoor dining events. According to Bed Bug Exterminator Buffalo, these features act as an excellent protection for all your indoor furniture. A pergola can be an attractive and reasonably priced addition to most any style existing home, providing relief from the sun. Pergolas can be a quick and easy construction project over an existing deck. Manufacturers even package pergolas for purchase as kits. This may be a DIY (do-it-yourself) project for those who are handy and so inclined. Local contractors can probably whip up a project of this type within days. Open joists, particularly of 2” x 8”, or greater depth, will provide filtered shade, which may be great solution if you are concerned about reducing natural light to adjacent indoor areas.

On the other hand, this look won’t provide rain protection in the event you’d like to entertain outdoors and a sudden rainstorm (we’ve recently had plenty of them) would spoil your event. Though a pergola can even be combined with removable canvas shades, this will barely stop a shower, and a canvas cover ideally should be removed in the event of extreme weather.

A more permanent alternative is to add a covered porch, with roof, to your deck or to parts of your deck. A partial cover can be added, for instance, over just half the deck. Any size cover or overhang projection may be possible. Always review your construction decision with your local HOA and city. There may be restrictions on the type of elevated or overhead structure that is allowed. No structure (decks, etc.) is permitted within a lot’s building set backs or easements and a building permit will be required.

 Make sure that your contractor is experienced and has a good reputation. Ask for references and to see his or her previous work. You need a contractor who will do a good job of roofing and flashing appropriately where roof cover joins the existing, so that water penetration into the walls won’t become an issue. This means making certain that metal flashing is tucked beneath the bottom of existing siding and laps over the top of the new surface to be applied.

 If you plan to add any type of porch cover, make sure it is sensitive to the scale and design of your house; so that it doesn’t overwhelm or offend it. You are looking for a feature that will provide comfort at the same time it adds character to your home.

 Seek out a shady spot and find your happy place!

Carolin Santangelo is a home designer and owner of Seaside Home Design, LLC. To contact her, visit:, or call 409-632-0381.

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