Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Sleeping Porch

Jeffrey Bilhuber's porch got me to thinking about sleeping porches. My grandparents had a house very much like this one, with a second floor sleeping porch in the back.
My brother and I spent many a Summer vacation there, and the sleeping porch was were we preferred to sleep. It was magical, somehow being exciting that it was like sleeping outside, but at the time feeling safe as inside the house.
The bedding was so cozy: Pendleton blankets, old quilts, lots of squishy pillows, and we loved to loll around night and day, taking breaks from heavy duty playing, and trips to Blanche's, the corner candy store.
As an adult, I had a pretty little house in East Hampton, New York, my dream beach house. It was a modest little Victorian, once a sail maker's store.
Alas I have no photos other than a few I found inside the pages of a book. Movers lost all my family photos, among them photos of this cherished part of my life.
My sleeping porch was the back porch and had floor to ceiling screens on two "walls." I hung white curtains made from handkerchief cotton, and it was so lovely when a breeze caught them.
There was a queen side bed nestled into a nook, with an old weathered gray motel sign hung over a white iron headboard that said BUNGALOWS. The bedding was all white, with a Hudson Bay blanket, very much like the one at my Grandmother's porch.
My house did not have air conditioning, and my bedroom was on the second floor. So on really hot nights, I would relocate to the sleeping porch. I often gave up my bedroom to my over flow house guests (the house had a guest room as well as the master and the sleeping porch, and a sofa bed in the living room - beach houses are popular places, and everyone was always welcome!).
I never felt a hardship giving up my room which took over the entire second floor with a huge bath room with a claw foot tub, and another small bedroom used as a sitting room and my Summer office. This room had a small second floor deck, a widow's walk, that was such a nice place to have morning coffee. So my guests got the suite, but I got the sleeping porch, where I slept like the child at my Grandparent's home.
On the sleeping porch, there were tables used as night stands, with good reading lamps. A red tole chandelier, was stripped of it's wiring, and became a candle-lier. The walls were white, and part of the outside of the house, so you had the clapboards as "interior" walls. The floor was wood painted standard porch gray, and had sea grass mats spread throughout.
There was also a campaign desk made in the 1970's, painted black, and made out of hundreds of pieces of wood, sort of like a modern tramp art piece. I put a glass top on it, and there was my mother's Chinese Chippendale arm chair used as the desk chair.
This is Charmaine London, Mrs. Jack London, on her sleeping porch and at her desk. She typed his manuscripts, and wrote books herself. They were an ideal match, Jack and Charmaine. She was the comrade for whom Jack had sought. She was fearless and game for any adventure he might dream up and yet always ultra-feminine. She filled his every need and more during their years of marriage.

My East Hampton sleeping porch had a couple of rocking chairs too, and a small chest of drawers filled with bed linens, extra candles, and bunches of dried lavender.
This time of year is perfect sleeping porch weather. You hunker down and nestle into piles of covers, and breathe in the deep night air, and catch a glimpse of stars through the screens as the wind gently lifts a curtain.

I went on a journey in Google Images, and found these photos from Apartment Therapy, The Feathered Nest, A Room Somewhere, Flkr, and The Dune House.


Paul Pincus said...

this was gorgeous.

magical. it's your word and it's the right word to to sum up a post on sleeping porches ; )

i LOVE your mug shot!

Emily Johnston | EJ Interiors said...

Wasn't a sleeping porch the place where Reese Witherspoon slept in the movie, Man in the Moon (one of her first roles)? Love the concept! So fun.

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Oh! I so love this post! Sleeping porches. There is nothing like them! I remember many stays at houses on the ocean in Maine...I was always relegated to the sleeping porch either with my friends or brothers...and it was perfect! I also feel for you losing your pics through the movers...arghh! We also had some amazing homes that I so wish I had pix of.
Unforunately... they went the way of dead and learn.
Your NY home looks divine!

Thanks for the lovely blast of the past!

Pigtown-Design said...

I grew up in a neighbourhood with houses with sleeping porches. They were the scene of many sleep-overs on hot summer nights, pre-a/c.

Cote de Texas said...

is that your house with the picket fence in those two pictures? so cute!!

pve design said...

Love to speak to reservations and simply say, "I'd like to reserve the sleeping porch!" I have a small porch and dream we spend many a midsummer's night with candles and strands of lights twinkling and fireflies aglow. Lovely images.

beachbungalow8 said...

the house that I grew up in had 3 sleeping porches. My actual bedroom had 14 windows...great for sneaking out, terrible for sleeping in.

At the time these houses were built, fresh air was considered tantamount to good health, so pulling on your sleeping cap and nestling under all of those yummy covers was key!

dolcechic said...

I love this post! I have the same question as Cote de that house yours? I love it!!!!

Visual Vamp said...

Yes the house with the picket fence was mine. That's me standing in the front yard. Sadly I sold it under some duress, a decision I regret now.

Couture Carrie said...

Dreamy photos, happy memories.

Alkemie said...

Ooooh I love the hanging bed on the porch. Very dreamy photos!

hello gorgeous said...

Love this, too!

My great, great aunt (grand aunt?) had a cottage on the Rock River in Illinois and we spent a lot of time on her sleeping porch.

No electricity or running water - pumped by hand and heated on the wood stove. She made huge dinners that way, including pies!

And the days would end when the sun went down and we climbed into bed on the sleeping porch.

So simple and such great memories. (Except for the outhouse!)

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Valorie, your house sounds wonderful. I love sleeping porches. It always makes me sad to see them enclosed on home tours. So sorry the movers lost your photos. Well, you may not have the house now, but no one can ever take away your memories of the years you lived there and entertained family and friends there. You'll have those forever.