Before and After: A Summer Porch Rehab in Upstate New York

What room matters most in a summer house? The screened porch, of course.

Design team Tara Mangini and Percy Bright take on the hard cases. Last year they rescued a nondescript and unloved screened porch in the Catskills–and made it magical.

When Tara and Percy commit to a rehab project, they really commit–moving into a space until they’re done remodeling it. The two founders of Jersey Ice Cream Co. (I know, it’s a confusing name) work on one project at a time, have no qualms about sticking to a tight budget, and in between clients head off on restorative yoga retreats and hiking expeditions. I would say they have it all figured it out.

Recently, the couple spent eight months working on an 18th century summer house in the Catskills, living in it while owners Rachael Bedard and Gideon Friedman decamped for NYC. When they first saw the place it was, in Tara’s words, “the pits.” If we hadn’t seen the “before” pictures, we’d find that hard to believe now:

Photography via Jersey Ice Cream Co.

Above: A narrow 7-foot-wide space, the screened porch is on the back of the house, accessible through both a mudroom and the living room.

The designers rearranged vintage wicker and rattan furniture. Shifting the position of the long sofa to place it against the short wall creates an optical illusion: it makes the space feel both wider and shorter.


Above: Before the remodel, the long, narrow screened porch felt more like a bowling lane than a place to gather. Too many paint colors–red, white, and gray–made the space feel chopped up and chaotic.

Above: A too-big table made the porch feel like a furniture warehouse.


Above: A round rug anchors a second seating area and distracts the eye from the narrow length of the porch.

The round, patterned Whirlwind Jute Rug was the result of a design collaboration between Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and West Elm, which sadly no longer sells it. For a similar rug, consider a Round Braided Jute Rug (available in two neutral colors and in two diameters), at prices ranging from $159 to $259 from Ballard Designs.

Above: Strings of outdoor café-style lights look just as good indoors. These lights are from Target; for more choices, see 10 Easy Pieces: Café-Style Outdoor String Lights.

Above: Siding, floorboards, and shingles–every surface in the porch got the same color of paint–Underwater by Behr–to unify the space. Available in both interior and exterior finishes, an 8-ounce sample size can of Underwater is $3.48 from Home Depot.

Above: A mudroom connects the screened porch to the kitchen. When Tara and Percy first saw it, the mudroom was painted four different colors. They unified the space by painting it a soft gray and made sure it was outfitted with what Tara describes as “excessive hooks.”

Above: The sink and built-in cabinet with bead board were already in place when Tara and Percy arrived–but were painted yellow. The designers also hung the BB gun and built simple wood frames for the vintage targets they bought.

Above: French doors in the living room connect indoor space to the screened porch, where the watery blue surfaces lure visitors into the shady space on even the hottest afternoon.

Curious to see the rest of the interior? Go to Remodelista for a full tour.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published June 29, 2015.

For more of our favorite summer rehabs, see:

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