Homes

Screened-in-porch makes the most of backyard season

Bungalow meets cottage at Todd and Sarah Sinclair’s home in Stittsville. And in a thoughtful family home that blends craftsman traditions with modern touches, it’s the 12-by-15-foot screened-in porch that stands out as a unique solution to the perennial summer mosquito issue. Not surprising, then, that this design feature is gaining momentum in this Ottawa suburb where Todd, the owner of TimberCross Homes, has already built three homes houses with rustic screened porches and has another two planned for upcoming builds this summer.

“We use our house as a model home to show potential clients what we can do,” says Todd. “Often they don’t even know they want a porch till they see ours.”

(Left) Todd and Sarah Sinclair, daughter Peyton and son Blake. (Right) The interior cladding of eastern white cedar was locally milled in Lanark, while the comfy curved sectional was a Costco find. Photos by Justin Van Leeuwen

Eastern white cedar is his wood of choice, both for both aesthetic and practical reasons. Locally milled in Lanark, the cedar is a classic cottage building material and is naturally rot- resistant. Todd stains it to further boost its longevity. Inside, two walls are faced in with cedar and, two in with Maibec, a stained pine siding that matches the siding used on the home’s front porch.

Last summer, their first in the house, Sarah says they practically lived on their new porch. It was a place to play on rainy days, a quiet spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, an office for mum and dad in the evenings, and a bug-free hangout when friends stopped by for a barbecue. “When 6 p.m. rolls around, most people are disappearing into their houses to get away from the mosquitoes, but we’re still enjoying the outdoors,” says Todd.

Six-to-seven-foot-tall screens let in lots of light and the ceiling fan keeps things cool on hot days. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Two steps lead from the porch to a rectangular patio of interlocking brick. The couple made the conscious decision to avoid a raised deck so that their young children could run (and ride their trikes) from patio to grass without fear of falls. Sarah says she often sets up a water table for daughter Peyton, 5, and son Blake, 3, to splash around at, and they sometimes cover the patio with a synthetic plastic sheet to turn it into a mini hockey rink.

The  Maibec stained pine siding matches the siding at the front of the house. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Todd built the outdoor seating set out of a solid ash beam he recovered from a barn that once stood at the corner of Eagleson and Fallowfield roads. When Todd helped the farm’s owners to dismantle the structure, he kept some of the larger beams to use in future builds.

Though this rustic-modern home house fits on a narrow suburban lot, the main view from the screened-in porch is of green grass and a wall of trees across the end of the Sinclairs’ backyard. As the sun sets and the neighbourhood grows quiet, that porch transforms into a retreat — a compact room that recreates the essence of cottage life.