Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
Vampires may be this year’s favorite love toys, but few of us long to merge our souls with the real blood-munchers who flood the air at twilight: mosquitoes. Hence the invention of screened porches. Since the Civil War era, this unlovely but functional device has allowed people to turn their porches and patios into outdoor rooms that keep blood-thirsty bugs at bay.
Our house, built in 1904 as a social club in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood, has a glorious back porch, elevated some twenty feet above the landscape. The porch was enclosed with screens in the mid twentieth century, cluttering up the building’s simple lines with a clunky grid of wooden framing.
When faced with the need to replace the old screens this spring, we decided to put in curtains instead. Mosquitocurtains.com provides custom-made curtains that hang from a simple track. The company’s motto: use these curtains for “the porch too beautiful to screen.” The veil of bug-proof fabric is easy to open and close—and it can be removed altogether in the winter with little fuss.
We replaced the old wooden railing with slim bars of powder-coated steel, designed and fabricated by Halsey Frost. The cost of the whole project was far less than putting in new screens. The curtain is nearly invisible, and like fishnet stockings or a lace veil, its subtle presence and gentle motion enhances rather than detracts from our experience of the porch.
From the back of the house, the screens and railing disappear almost entirely.
If we were doing the project again, we might use a different track than the one provided by Mosquitocurtains.com. For curtains inside our house, we’ve installed flexible tracks from Konnect International, whose precisely engineered fittings create a smoother movement. But overall, we are thrilled with the simplicity and economy of our new barely enclosed porch.— Ellen Lupton · 2009-06-19