Southern sleeping porches were a necessary home design element in the pre-air conditioning days. Also called ‘summer porches’, these outdoor living spaces took advantage of the shade and cool breeze on the north side of homes so the occupants could sleep comfortably during the hot, humid southern summer nights. While homeowners may not need sleeping porches any longer, porches are still an integral part of a home’s living space and needs to be comfortably decorated to compliment the home design and homeowner. And when it’s created just right, you may find your sleeping porch to be your favorite afternoon napping space.
The space will be exposed to the elements year around, so durable flooring is essential. Painting the floor is the most durable and inexpensive option for a sleeping porch. Use color and paint patterns on the floor to define spaces, or paint the floor one color and use sisal rugs or other durable fabric on the floor to soften and define the space.
Don’t overlook what’s overhead – it will be your view when you’re lying down. Be creative with the ceiling and don’t forget to install a ceiling fan and lighting.
The house exterior are the walls of the porch, but you can still dress them up to reflect your personality. Wood picture frames and sconces can be painted or water-proofed, so can metal. Browse around the flea market for inexpensive wall art to hang on your outdoor sleeping porch. Large, bamboo blinds can be suspended from the eaves of the house and raised and lowered as needed for privacy and to keep sun out.
Us southerners realize there are ‘redneck’ jokes told about us and our outdoor furniture that used to be our indoor furniture, but we also realize something else – a couch is more comfortable to sit on than a plastic or metal lawn chair. A sleeping porch needs a comfy couch or bed so one can recline in comfort and nap the afternoon away. Add a couple chairs, occasional tables and lamps to complete the comfort look and feel. Use an area rug and set the furniture at odd angles on the porch, not just shoved back against the house.
A porch of any kind needs some potted plants to pull the look together. If you don’t want your neighbors to see you napping, place tall potted plants around the perimeter of your sleeping porch, the breeze still gets in while prying eyes are kept out. Tall plants also help absorb outside noise so nearby traffic and barking dogs won’t disturb your sleep.