Last week something amazing happened. Our garage door was installed! <Insert cheering here.> Now I realize this doesn’t excite most home owners, but our door is a little different than most garage doors. For starters it’s all glass (ohh fun)! And…we didn’t install it on our garage – it’s in our den.
That’s the reaction I get from most people. But go with me here for a second.
When Ian and I were initially drawing plans for our addition we didn’t consider any kind of porch space, as we figured we would just have a patio off of the kitchen that went out into the backyard. However, when we bought the house, it had an all-screen porch and we spent literally every waking minute out there. It served as a dining room, living room, outdoor space, you name it. We did everything in this 12′ by 12′ indoor/outdoor room. So when it came time to finalize the plans, we simultaneously said, “well, never mind, there has to be a screened-in porch.”
The only problem was, we didn’t have room for one. The original kitchen had to be enlarged (it was teeny!) and we desperately wanted a mudroom, so this screen porch was going even further into the yard than we had anticipated. This not only took up valuable yard space, but also blew up our budget.
So we went back to the drawing board and said, “ok how can we incorporate a screened-in porch within the existing addition square footage?” We took a little space off of the kitchen (which originally had a somewhat unnecessary eat-in area, so that was easy) and we reconfigured the mudroom. We also extended the whole addition by four feet, justifying the cost for a space we knew we’d love. But then when we interviewed contractors they informed us that it would be a small fortune to build this (essentially) outdoor room within the confines of finished space. (Basically it was expensive to waterproof this area having fully finished, interior spaces both above and below this outdoor level.)
It was substantially cheaper to build a sunroom than the screen porch we wanted (weird, right?!) I would have gone with that plan except this house already had a sunroom, and who in the world needs two?! Also, what we loved about it was the indoor/outdoor nature of the whole thing. Our contractor suggested building custom windows that we could ‘pop out’ on nice days, thus leaving screens and being porch-like if we wanted. This was the best option so far, but there were three problems with it:
- Where to store the 16 windows he was going to build when we took them out.
- The pain in the butt of removing/replacing them. We live in an area where it rains a lot and having multiple nice days in a row pretty much never happens. I could see us saying it wasn’t often worth the hassle of taking them out, only to put them back in at the end of the day.
- If we did take them out and it started to rain suddenly, we wouldn’t have the necessary waterproofing in place and we could end up damaging other areas of the house if we weren’t super diligent.
Crap, crap, crap.
But then my husband had a brilliant idea. “Let’s just put in a garage door.” To this day I’m not sure if he was half joking or dead serious, but my initial reaction included laughter and some snide comment about how his love for all things car related knew no bounds. But then I thought about it, and warmed to the idea. It was actually kind of brilliant. It literally solved all of our problems, and was super cool to boot.
So last week that’s exactly what we did – we put a garage door on the outside wall of our ‘den.’ When it’s closed, it’s a floor to ceiling window that spans all 16 feet of the room. When it’s open, it goes unnoticed (our ceilings are 9′) and suddenly our den is a porch. And this change happens in about 20 seconds as the door opens or closes with no manual effort on our part (we have a button on the kitchen counter).
Although the idea came to my husband in a flash, it didn’t happen all that easily. Engineering the entire thing was complicated, as the door was crazy heavy, and drawing up plans with no real precedent was also a challenge. The engineer, architect, contractor, nor installer had ever done anything like this before. (I got really tired of all of them excitedly telling me this on a weekly basis.)
But finally, it’s in and it’s just as awesome as we’d hoped! And as you can tell by the pictures in this post, we’re not the first people to do this crazy garage door thing. Sometimes it just takes a little extra creativity. (And many hours spent on Pinterest!)
I will do a full reveal of our indoor/outdoor den as soon as the furniture arrives. As the room was strictly a porch until a few days ago, I’ve needed to order all new stuff. No complaints here!