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SPRING FLING •2014• Issue 8

ORIGINAL HOME • MAGAZINE Living Well at Home • Personal Style on Any Budget

Planning a Sunroom Addition

Whimsical Folkart Whirligigs

Family Activities for Earth Day Spring Cleaning Made Extra Easy

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Table of Contents • • • Tap any title to read! • • •

Living Brightly in Glass Rooms: • Planning a Sunroom Addition

Editor Ngaire Genge Acquisitions Manager Lorna Hamilton Advertising Elaine Sainsbury Tap here to reach us! originalhomemagazine

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• The Soothing Sleeping Porch At Home in the Garden Help Save the Bees Home Improvement: Spring Cleaning Made Extra Easy Collections: Whimsical Folk Art Whirligigs Home Cooking: Early Farm Fresh Ingredients Two Sweet Honey Recipes Activities for Earth Day

Our Cover this Issue: Photo by Andreas Hensel Spring Tulips

• Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt • 20 Ways to Conserve Water • Controlling Air Pollution Indoors • Earth Day Family Field Trips

The Soothing Sleeping Porch

Rx for Restful Nights and Sunny Days “M

y life is infinitely ironic,” says Roberta Winsor. “When I was a little girl, my cousins and I would beg to be allowed to bunk out together in our old sleeping porch while my mother was begging my father to just glass it in to give her a real room. Nearly forty years later, more than half the design work I do is adding new sleeping porches and converting family rooms back into screened spaces!” Winsor grew up in tiny outports

in Newfoundland and Labrador - and sleeping porches didn’t have the happy, nostalgic connotations they do today. “During the 1920s to 1950s, people suffering from tuberculosis were sent to ‘the San,’ a health care facility where they were basically quarantined from family and friends,” she says. “No cruelty was intended. TB, or ‘consumption,’ was killing people, a lot of people. Segregation was a desperate attempt to keep TB from spreading. Pre-

pharmaceuticals, treatment was basic. Feed them as well as possible during pretty difficult economic times. Ensure they rested. Encourage letter writing with their families, to offset depression. And give them lungful after lungful of fresh air - generally by eliminating windows from the wards or parking the beds outside on balconies and porches. It wasn’t unusual for patients to wake to snow and frost on the blankets.” Amazingly, the regimen worked.

Today’s dreamy sleeping porches don’t look like hospitals, but they make many homeowners feel and sleep better. Image: Wicker Furniture / Wicker Paradise

The Soothing Sleeping Porch

North Carolina Sanitorium patients on the sleeping porch. From “The Treatment of Tuberculosis”

“Well, it worked better than most other things anyway,” says Winsor. “There was a period when they tried various surgeries - like removing ribs! - but, fresh air, good food, and rest was every bit as successful, so they stuck with that.” Treatment could take years. Eventually, sanitorium spaces filled, and patients, especially those who had

benefitted as much as possible from the sanitorium’s care, were sent home. “An outdoor sleeping space became fairly common in many homes of the period,” says Winsor. “It wasn’t just TB that sparked it, of course. When I lived in New Orleans, I was both surprised and pleased to find tall windows being left open all over the city while people slept

A 1916 article from Popular Science featured an innovative way to ensure even urban babies received the fresh air everyone knew was required to ensure healthy, vigorous children! Image: Popular Science Tap to see the entire article!

behind draped mosquito netting, their local version of my screened sleeping porch - it made me feel suddenly at home!” It’s that feeling of home, memories of children giggling under the blankets, and the sensation of cool breezes on hot sultry nights that Winsor finds herself recreating for her clients. “For my mother’s generation, the sleeping porch symbolizes sads time of separation from family - even when patients came home, they often ate and lived quite apart from others. My grandfather read nightly stories to my aunt through the door. They were so afraid the breadwinner would get ill, they hardly saw each other for years,” she says. “For us, though, screened porches were these wonderful places and we’d just wander from house to house all summer, rolling out sleeping bags wherever the evening ended.” She laughs at the memories. “I imagine our parents were horrified by the approaching horde - and happy enough to toss us outside for the night!” As an adult, the sleeping porch still draws her back to sleep under the stars. “It’s just the perfect spot for Girls’ Night! Or an evening of quiet as needed.” Her cozy second-storey screened sleeping porch is fitted with a pair of quilt-laden daybeds facing each other , each of which has the traditional trundle that slides out for yet more guests. Even when she doesn’t need the extra space, it’s her preferred sleeping quarters. “I’ve slept out there every month of the year - though not every night,” says Winsor. “While a breeze is welcome, a blizzard isn’t, and I haven’t gotten around to adding shutters against the worst weather - yet.” It isn’t just nostalgia that keeps Winsor and her clients heading outside at night though. They feel better. “There was a time when doctors warned mothers to ‘air’ their children on a daily basis, summer or winter,” says Winsor. “I don’t know that it’s necessary to pop them in their pram and let them howl in the cold, but, a day spent outdoors certainly seems to ensure an early night and dispels morning grumpies - so why shouldn’t a night

The Soothing Sleeping Porch sleeping in a comfy spot outside encourage a sound sleep too?” Dr. Della Whiteway, a practicing child psychologist and pediatrician isn’t handing out ‘sunburn and frostbite prescriptions’ either, but does say, “The benefits of sunshine and fresh air haven’t changed much in a hundred years. With common sense cautions, sleeping outside - day or night - offers some real health advantages.” Sunshine’s role in the production of Vitamin D, and the prevention of “rickets,” the bowed bones of osteomalacia, isn’t news. Some facts about the condition, however, have lost some of their impact. “For starters, it isn’t just a condition of children,” says Whiteway. “Adults whose

diets are lacking Vitamin D and calcium - which is not all that unusual, especially in lactose-reduced diets - can develop rickets easily without sufficient sunlight.” Vitamin D also assists the body to use other important minerals besides calcium. “Magnesium and phosphate deficiencies, coupled with an inability to properly utilize calcium doesn’t just affect bones, it results in neural diseases as well,” confirms Whiteway. “Vitamin D is essential in the absorption and utilization of zinc and iron as well. Without it, anemia and neurological symptons accumulate.” Foods high in natural Vitamin D can be problematic. “At my son’s school,

This home had all the mod-cons: a maid’s room with its own toilet and sink (if no bath or shower) and a sleeping porch off the main bedrooms. Image: Revival: The Digest

A rocker on the porch - screened or not - is good for nursing moms whose bodies are busily producing Vitamin D for two. Image: Robert Linder

for example, they have bans on tuna, most other fish, and eggs, due to allergies in the student body,” says Whiteway. “That effectively eliminates the only sources of natural Vitamin D in foods for one third of all meals. The only other native sources are some mushrooms, like shitakis. Other foods, like cereals, might be enriched, but, none of them are as efficient at supplying the required levels as simply sitting in the sunshine!” “Back to the ironies in my life,” says Winsor. “My nephew, the doted-on-andadored youngest member of our family’s next generation actually developed early signs of rickets because his devoted parents were so careful to

protect him from the sun! Between SPF-5,000,000 and covering up every square inch of his naturally-darker toned skin, he was Vitamin D deficient.” If that sounds incredible, Whiteway points to a 2010 study in the British Medical Journal that showed 20 cases of rickets per year identified in Newcastle-onTyne. “The happy medium here is to avoid sunburn which is a definite precursor to numerous cancers and skin diseases - while still getting out in the sunshine on a regular basis,” says Whiteway. “Playing on the porch, anywhere with partial sun and shade, every day, definitely

The Soothing Sleeping Porch improves health.” And not just for the kiddies either. “Breast milk is best on so many levels, “ says Whiteway. “It isn’t, however, fortified with Vitamin D as formulas legally must be in most countries. Nursing moms are making Vitamin D for themselves and their babies. They both need sunshine. “ Getting your sunshine before baby arrives is equally important. “Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and low birth weight babies are all associated with Vitamin D deficiency,” says Whiteway. “Speaking of ironies, Vitamin D overdosing in pregnant and nursing women is an actual problem,” notes Whiteway. “Unlike some vitamins that are water-soluable and, therefore, flush away every time you eliminate water from the body, Vitamin D is fat-soluble. It doesn’t wash away if you ingest too much of it. It gets stored in your fatty tissue and can cause many serious side effects, including permanent kidney damage.” Fortunately, one distinct advantage of sunshine-created Vitamin D is the elimination of any possibility of Vitamin D overdosing. “When your body has enough about 15 minutes three or four times a week, it stops making it, regardless of how much time you spend in the sun,” she says. “You don’t have to bake. That’s not necessary or recommended at all, just walk to the corner and back.” The elderly frequently encounter bone density issues and can be less likely than younger people to be outside. Whiteway recommends they get their careful dose of sunshine too. “It really is sort of pointless to be so careful about getting additional calcium if you don’t have the Vitamin D to let your body use it,” she says. “Sort of like buying lumber for your house without bringing home the nails.” Rickets is a bit of a cautionary tale in another way, notes Whiteway. “During the Industrial Revolution in London, the ‘Big Smoke’ had an immediate and obvious effect,” she says. “Up to 80% of children showed some stage of some variety of rickets. Children of the upper classes didn’t just eat better, they were taken ‘away to the country’

The Jacob Ecker House built in 1922 by architect Roy James Hotchkiss in Oak Park, Illinois, included a spacious sleeping porch over the attached garage. The bad-weather glazing opens to screens. Image: Chicago Geek

or off to the seaside, out from under the smog and smoke, more often.” Winsor believes the combination of partial-sunshine and fresh air afforded by a sleeping porch is a little bit of the

country at home for her and her clients. “Screens and porch rooves are similar to wearing a hat,” she says. “Which is what those Victorians did all the time, none of them would be caught dead

The sleeping porch in the main house of the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY. Image: Rolf Muller

The Soothing Sleeping Porch with a tan! And neither should you.” “Modern homes frequently have worse air quality inside than the street, even with the traffic out there,” she says. “A good air exchange system certainly helps, but, modern homes are so air-tight, to assist with heating and maintenance of the structure, it becomes its own environment - and many modern products give off gases and particles that can irritate.” Bruce Goodwin and his son Aaron both have sleeping porches off their second-storey bedrooms thanks to Winsor’s redesign of their home. “Aaron has asthma, so, it started as a basic carpet-gutting and repainting exercise,” says Bruce. “Roberta had the air exchanger installed, then brought in natural finishes like wood flooring and all-cotton fabrics. That made a real difference - for both of us. I’d been just, you know, sort of stuffy and sniffly for years. Not sick, not asthmatic certainly, but, just not 100% either. After the first part of the reno, I woke up and was halfway to work when I realized I hadn’t sniffed or snorted once that morning!” Aaron’s use of his inhaler at home dropped off about 20%. “I used to tell our doctor we needed a prescription for daily golf,” he chuckles. “We always felt fine at the golf course! When Roberta was telling Aaron about her sleeping porch during the reno and he said, ‘Sounds like Dad at the golf course,’ well, that got me thinking maybe there was something to that. That it wasn’t simply our love of golf that made us feel better - but that we simply were better, outside.” Unless you live over a nightclub or an all-night laundry, nighttime usually means less traffic on streets, less grasscutting or pollen being released, and less general industry. “It’s the time when the air is at its freshest,” says Whiteway. “The falling temperature usually ensures some breeze and, while mosquitoes are active all the time, that’s not true of all bugs. All combined, the air might be freshest at night while we’re boxed up inside with all the accumulated people-generated pollution. There’s definitely no fear of over-exposure to sunlight in the wee hours!”

Simple works! A hammock is the ultimate cool-down zone with air free to move on all sides. Hop in with a good sleeping bag or cocoon with a duvet and you’ll stay surprisingly warm well into fall. Image: Seth Vidal

Called back to the Goodwin house, Roberta created the two outdoor spaces. Aaron’s perch is little more than a hammock and a grass mat on the wood floor of his screened porch. Bruce’s includes a comfy bed, deep reading chair, a couple of tables and a sheepskin rug between bed and chair “so I don’t have to look for my slippers

between them.” Both clients sleep outside most of the time. “Aaron has a -30 sleeping bag and I have a couple extra quilts that work really well,” says Bruce. “It’s been an absolute blessing for Aaron. Without any other changes, he hardly ever uses his inhaler at home - and he’s got more

A stack of pallets makes flexible use of any sized space. Spread them around as a base for a half-dozen sleepers or stack them high to catch every breeze. Flipping one layer up against the wall with lots of pillows and it’s even a comfy couch. Image by Jodimichelle

The Soothing Sleeping Porch energy than I’ve seen in years.” For himself, he adds, “And, I’m getting out of bed without smacking the snooze button. A sound night’s sleep just provides that solid base for the day.” “For people with an intolerance for out-gassing products, the opportunity to open the windows and doors - even if you’re still sleeping inside, is not to be missed,” says Whiteway. “Flushing the air in the home should be an every-breezyday activity, especially if you don’t have an air exchanger.” Another advantage of sleeping outside, especially spring and fall, is the potential to avoid sharing colds and other infections. “Inside, we’re coughing and sneezing into the same air that someone else is breathing just seconds later,” says Whiteway. “Outside, we can hope for air that’s constantly refreshed!” Other aspects of the sleeping porch address emotional and psychological needs. “We’re all aware at some level that sunshine cheers us, relaxes us, warms us, and probably does nice things for our circulation,” she says. “For people who experience that seasonal depression as we lose sunlight hours, any time spent looking out at a sunny vista is likely to be beneficial, but sunshine isn’t the only positive environment. “Fair weather isn’t the only kind we can experience on the porch,” says Windsor. “Rain isn’t depressing for everyone - especially if their interaction with it is limited to watching it fall - out there, while they curl up with a cup of tea under cover on the porch!” Listening to rain while just thinking, or reading a book, or enjoying that hot drink soothes many people. “Even snowfalls provide that effect,” says Winsor. “IF you’re dressed warmly and sipping that hot chocolate - and the snow isn’t going down your neck, a snowfall can be seriously relaxing. Those huge flakes falling...? Give yourself over to them once in a while! Steal twenty minutes curled up outside. You won’t freeze. You may even find it hard to go back inside after your twenty minutes.” One of Winsor’s clients is comforted by the sound of cars swishing

This Queen Anne home’s pair of sleeping porches, one above the front door, the other above the regular porch on the left side of the building, provide opportunities regardless of which way the breeze blows. The corner orientation of the front porch provides maximum cross-currents. Interestingly, sleeping porches of this period seldom had doors. Access was through windows.

by her downtown balcony. “It’s not my thing,” she says. “For her, it’s like listening to waves at the beach. When she’s inside and shut away behind the double-glazing, she feels trapped. Outside, listening to people chatting as they walk under her space or the sounds of tires on wet streets, all that soft sound lets her feel connected.” Whiteway recalls hearing the same thing from friends in Brooklyn. “They loved spending hot nights up on the roof of their building or out on the fire escape,” she said. “I asked if they felt safe - and they looked at me as if I had two heads! As they pointed out, sleeping outside an open window is absolutely no different than sleeping inside the same open window - except,

if something does go wrong inside, the neighbours won’t know where to send the police.” Winsor’s preference is always an elevated porch. “Intellectually, I know Bad Guys can bring a ladder, but, I feel it’s both more private and more secure,” she says. “Again, common sense is your guide. If you feel as safe on your condo’s roof as you do under it, then run away to the roof!” Says Whiteway, “People love running away to the cottage - or the roof. I thnk we need to reconnect to the outdoors once in a while. It’s calming. We can’t always run away for real, but, we can leave the phone inside and escape as far as the sleeping porch when we

The Soothing Sleeping Porch need it. At some level, it’s still an escape, a haven from the usual world inside.” If your porch actually is a welcoming haven instead of a storage space for rakes. “That’s the beauty of a sleeping porch,” says Bruce. “You don’t keep rakes and beds in the same place, you know?” Creating your haven doesn’t require expensive furnishings, just some thought and flexibility. “Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t mean letting it control your space,” says Winsor. “Watching rain fall across your landscape isn’t the same as being smacked in the the face with it!” A sleeping porch with glazing that opens and closes over screens provides the maximum control, and extends the season longest. “Screens alone can keep out most bad weather though,” says Winsor. “A driving wind can push rain through it, but, in most situations rain just beads on in and rolls down it as on glass.” If your porch is open, drapes or free-standing screens can protect you and redirect lighter weather. “Unless your porch can be completely enclosed, expect to have some drips or leaves on the floor from time to time,” Winsor says. “The deck of the porch can be its wooden boards, or tile, or some indoor-outdoor product like grass mats that will dry quickly and not harbour molds or mildew.” Some people hang their sleeping surface from overhead beams or trusses. “Chain or rope commonly suspend the platform so there are no legs to get in the way of sweeping, and no easy pathway for any bugs to crawl up,” she says. “Depending on how permanent you choose to make your porch, you could use a regular bed, a rolling trundle, a camping cot, or even a futon or stack of pallets. The mattress can be a dedicated outdoor fabric, or a sleeping bag or duvet you bring out just when needed. Another popular option is a hammock. They’re comfortable, allow air to circulate freely around you, and can be moved or stowed quite easily.” Winsor also likes the option of an extra-long hanging swing. “The seat is often deep enough for a single person and is multipurpose.”

Your sleeping porch needn’t be elaborate, just meet your needs for comfort, privacy, and security. Draperies can assist in managing sunshine, light rain or snow, and winds while providing privacy. Image: Wicker Furniture / Wicker Paradise

Tables, chairs, and lamps also increase the versatility of sleeping porches. “Typical outdoor furniture, traditional wicker, or metal all make good choices,” says Winsor. “Lamps need careful attention,” she says. “Any time you have electricity and the potential of rain in the same area, you need proper ground-faultinterruption sockets. Don’t just run an extension cord from inside. Have an outdoor outlet installed.” She warns against avoiding the issue of electricity by using candles or oil

lamps instead. “They’re beautiful, very romantic, but, the potential to blow over is very real. An equally good, and safer, option is a solar lamp. Without a cord, you can use it like a flashlight if you get up in the night. It’s also a greener solution!” Beyond those essentials, you need only “what delights your eye and soul!” Winsor keeps an old suitcase under her bed. “It’s full of favourite books and snacks, the same as when we were kids, though the snacks are better for us now.” • Ngaire Genge

Original Home Magazine - Spring Fling Special - Inside-Out & Outside-In!  

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