Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sleeping Porches

In the South, summers can be brutally hot. I know. I lived there the first 28 years of my life, and most of it in South Central Texas. Sometimes during the long cold February days here on this mountain, I could almost wish to be back! "Sunny California" is a bit of a misnomer. 

Years ago, families in the South often had sleeping porches on the back of the house where they would move their beds during the very hottest part of the summer in order to catch the breezes that would subtly pass by. Although my own family didn't have one, two old-maid great aunts who lived together in a big old victorian farmhouse were blessed to have just such a space which looked something like this:

Sometimes we'd go visit them after church or for a family reunion or just to spend an hour or two in the afternoon. When I got bored (as children often do when "visiting"), I'd wander out to the sleeping porch where two or three iron beds were lined up facing out into the yard. Each had a simple ticking mattress toped with a homemade quilt and a couple of old feather pillows. In the heat of the day, with cicadas making their singing noise, I'd get drowsy and want to lay down for a short cat nap. One time I finally gave in and what a glorious sleep!

At night you can hear the croaking of frogs, chirping of crickets, and occasionally the lonesome sound of an owl. Fireflies silently glow off and on in the dark beyond the screen as they drift randomly in the night. Stars seem closer, the breeze cooler, and life is good.

As the sun tops the trees, dew glistens on the grass, mourning doves coo their sad song, and the world beyond begins to awaken. Is there a better way to greet the day?

I don't have a sleeping porch, but often on hot summer nights I wish I did. I'd sleep out there every single night and soak up all that wonderful goodness of God's glorious creation! I'll just have to settle for sleeping with my windows open for now.

Photo Credit: larry wfu

Bedroom "Sleeping Porch" Makeover

To create the feel of a sleeping porch in your bedroom, consider some of these touches that are easy to add:

• Because porches were often added to the back of a home (sometimes the side), one or two walls were covered in siding while the rest was screened. Cover just one wall or the ceiling in beadboard and paint it white (the most common house color in the South!).

• Remove your regular bedding, add crisp white cotton sheets, a couple of pillows, and an old colorful quilt. A white dust ruffle would be nice, too. 

• Replace heavy drapes with cotton shears.

• Declutter the room! Sleeping porches were sparse back in the day!

• Add a pretty vase full of fragrant flowers (like lilacs) or fill a dish with a similar potpourri. Another option: spray sheets with a light misting of lavender water.

• Open up all the windows at least an hour before bedtime to cool the room down.

• Add an old antique fan by a window. (Consider having an electrician check it for safety first!).

• Turn off all the lights when you go to bed. I have to unplug some of the appliances because they make a humming noise and have a little light coming from them. (I want it pitch black and silent so I can hear all the outside wildlife!)

Recently, both Pottery Barn and Garnet Hill had some photos of rooms that recreated the look and feel of the old fashioned sleeping porches. Just take a few cues from their rooms for inspiration to create your own look! 

Get ready! Summer's coming!
Hope all your dreams are sweet!


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