Everyday Solutions: Porch gains function

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 16, 2012 - 9:45 AM

Avid cyclists turned a dilapidated porch into a multifunctional place to store their bikes and dine during warm weather.


AFTER: The bike locker holds up to four bikes and still has room for gear.

Photo: Brandon Stengel, Farmkid Studios

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The challenge: Sam and Laura Kirstein seldom sat in their three-season back porch because it "smelled like mildew, had old carpeting and wasn't in great shape," said Laura.

The cycling enthusiasts, who bike to work and on weekends, had to store their bikes in the dining room because the porch and garage weren't secure. "We wheeled our bikes in and out through the front door," said Laura. Their plan was to build a new back porch outfitted with a bike-storage area, using the existing concrete foundation.

Project designer: Jackie Millea, Shelter Architecture, Minneapolis, www.shelterarchitecture.com, 612-870-4081.

The solution: Millea designed a new three-season porch, which was built on the old foundation. To gain square footage for a bike locker, she cantilevered a section out several feet on two sides. Now there's still room for chairs and a dining table in the porch.

Design standout: The interior and exterior of the storage locker is clad in ipe wood, and the remainder of the porch exterior is fiber-cement siding. "We liked the warmth of the wood against the existing stucco house," said Millea.

Glass walls: Two of the porch walls are floor-to-ceiling glass to draw in natural light, which filters into the kitchen. The bottom section of the windows tip open for outdoor breezes. The entry door from the back yard is solid glass and wide enough for the couple to wheel their bikes in and out. "We wanted to create this glass enclosure," said Millea.

Kitchen connection: Shelter Architecture also remodeled the Kirstein kitchen using simple clean lines and walnut cabinets to unify the adjoining rooms.

Blend old and new: "The new porch isn't so modern that it looks out of place," said Laura. "It's married very well with the style of the existing 1940s stucco Cotswold."

Maximize space: The storage locker, which can hold up to four bikes, has a metal wall to attach hooks and hardware to hang gear. Door pockets hold bike wheels.

Now you see them, now you don't: The Kirsteins' bicycles are hidden from view when the locker door is shut and locked.

Best part: "It's really handy when we bring our bikes in the porch two or three times a day," said Laura. "And it keeps all the dirt and leaves out of the house."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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  • AFTER: The doors are shut and locked to hide the bikes from view and the porch has space for a table and chairs.

  • BEFORE: The Kirsteins rarely used the uninviting back porch.

  • Everyday Solutions appears once a month in the Homes section, showcasing projects by AIA Minnesota member architects that solve a homeowner's everyday design challenge. The program is a partnership between the Star Tribune and the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Share your Everyday Solution: To submit a project for consideration, please send uncompressed jpeg images of the element or space, before and after photos if available, and a brief description of the story behind the project to Stephanie Pelzer: pelzer@aia-mn.org.
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