This Texas family has it made in the shade with an ideal spot for outdoor living.
Perfect Porch

Looking for the Gosnell family? Friends know better than to try the front door. Chances are they wouldn't hear you even if you knocked loudly. Instead, follow the voices of children, the patter of feet, and the warm laughter to the back of their home, where Leslie and Jack Gosnell and their children are relaxing on the new porch addition, which spans the rear of their Dallas home. Three sets of French doors lead from the family room onto the all-season porch, where comfy rockers await. When the doors are left open for entertaining, the family room expands to twice its size.

Porches can be enjoyed year-round in Texas, but screening does keep mosquitoes at bay. So the family opted to screen in the section of their porch that is adjacent to the kitchen. Three windows to the rear of the porch and above the kitchen sink allow Leslie and Jack to keep an eye on their children--Ellie, Cameron, and Grayson. It's also the perfect way to pass food from the kitchen to the porch.

Leslie chose all-weather wicker furniture for the screened section--two comfy sofas, a stately chair, and an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table. She had them cushioned with durable yellow-and-white striped fabric.

Three steps spill from the porch into the large backyard. "Most Texas porches are built low to the ground," explains architect Debbie Settle, who designed the addition. "But I like the way that this porch is up above the yard, providing separation between adults and kids." Leslie agrees: "My favorite thing is to sit on the porch and watch the children play."

To read about a dramatic before-and-after front entry update, see "A Welcoming Makeover" on page 130 of the April 2003 issue of Southern Living.