Tips for designing a winter verandah

For verandah lovers, winter usually means three months locked out of the favorite room of the house. However, these spaces can easily be redesigned for cold-weather use with proper insulation, heating and decoration.

Craftsman house plans, such as HHF-1895, can offer expansive lanais that cover hundreds of square feet. If done properly, a winter-converted verandah can put that space to good use, acting as a dining area or even a secondary living room. Convert three-season porches into a year-round room with these tips. 

Screen it in
The right screening can easily turn covered porches and verandahs into indoor spaces. Many companies make vinyl screens that can be hung in panels over the mosquito netting of screened-in porches. This vinyl can even be clear plastic, which allows sunlight in to brighten up the room during the day. Black vinyl can also be used to absorb heat, which then radiates through the room on cold nights. 

A porch with glass windows already has some of the necessary structure to combat heat loss. However, glass is a poor insulator, and these rooms can still get cold at night. Thermal shades and blinds help retain heat at night, while allowing light and warmth in during the day. They are also more visually pleasing than vinyl screen, and allow for a wide variety of style options. 

Cold does not only come in through the walls. Homeowners should put down rugs to help retain heat. They help keep heat from escaping between cracks in the floorboard,  and they also provide a more comfortable surface for bare feet than hard wood. 

Warm it up
Once a porch is adequately insulated, homeowners can make it warm with electric or gas patio heaters. They come in a number of designs to be hung, placed on a table or propped in a corner. Homeowners should be aware of the safety concerns of these devices, however, as they can spark fires if not properly handled. A special, permanent place should be designated for powered heaters. 

Fireplaces are another means for heating a porch, as seen in HHF-1895, which has a BBQ porch connected to a spacious lanai. As with powered heaters, precaution should be given for proper ventilation, especially in the instance of backdrafts, which sends smoke back into the room. 

Homeowners can save money on heating a porch with smart passive heating provided by thermal blinds. The better the insulation, the less need for powered heating. None of the mentioned heaters should be used until a porch is screened in. Otherwise, heat will easily escape, wasting energy and money. 

Decorate appropriately
Just because the days are a little shorter doesn't mean that a porch has to be any less bright. The right decorations can make a verandah as cozy as the rest of the house. Overstuffed couches, bright pillows and rugs can all lend some cheer to a winter verandah. 

Lighting is also key to the right porch ambience. Overhead lighting can feel harsh. Instead, homeowners can install lamps and fairy lights in order to create a cozy space. Built-in elements in the design of the porch, such as a fireplace, can help create the right vibe.