How to Live Outdoors all Year Long

A screen porch is your ticket to enjoying nature year-round. We break down the essentials for every season.

James Hardie Idea House Screened Porch Outdoor Living
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

The South's envy-inducing climate serves up warm temps and breezy afternoons much of the year, and just enough chill on winter nights to feel seasonal. Is it any wonder we want to live our lives—our whole lives—outside?

So many of our Southern Living Idea Houses embrace the desire for everyday outdoor living with covered porches, screen porches, and more.

Here's how the design team created a near-invincible all-season space.

Fall & Winter: Create Warmth

A generous wood-burning brick fireplace keeps the porch cozy on cold nights and is a natural focal point for the room. Copper outdoor lanterns from Carolina Lanterns reinforce the idea that this was once an outdoor area that was closed in at some point in the past.

James Hardie Outdoor Living Siding
Laurey W. Glenn

Spring: Walls That Work Hard

Wide expanses of screening capture the water view and breezes while keeping bugs at bay, but of course the humidity and moisture still makes their way in, posing a maintenance problem the design team was eager to tackle.

To solve it, they brought the home's exterior combo of Artisan Lap siding (as trim) and HardiePanel and batten strips for a board & batten look. This not only solved the potential rotting problem that plagues traditional wood and drywall, it also adds rustic character that matches the weathered brick of the fireplace.

Summer: A Worry-Free Ceiling

The real a-ha for Matt Birdwell, Director of Custom Operations for Riverside Custom Homes, Idea House builder, was nixing the tongue-and-groove pine ceiling they typically install on porches for Artisan V-Groove siding. "With pine, you're definitely painting it again in less than 10 years," Birdwell says of the toll the weather takes on the material. Not so with the siding, which won't rot or warp with moisture.

The look is also little cleaner than pine's uneven and knotted texture that often shows through paint. "This is something we'll carry forward into future projects: Using the Artisan V-Groove siding in lieu of pine," he says. "It looks very similar and will hold up longer than the wood."

This is a boon to the home's future owners, who will never sit down and look up only to be reminded of a maintenance schedule. The only thing on the agenda is relaxing, every day of the year.

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