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christine brun


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Porch Dining


Dining al fresco can be simply divine! Who doesn't have pleasant memory of eating outside on a warm summer evening? This is the time to clean up after the winter and get everything ready for summer.

But there are some parts of the country where you might become the meal for insects and where a screened-in porch is a safer place to enjoy a meal. Mosquitoes carry many human and livestock diseases and there are about 170 different species in North America. Be aware that you can buy installation-ready mosquito screens for your porch or balcony from Touted as less than permanent screening by one third, this family owned business allows you to capture extra space and protect your family at the same time.

Some people swear by citronella candles as a way to control mosquitoes. These burn the natural oil of citrus plants, but I have a very breezy backyard, and I cannot keep the candles or torches burning. It is said that these natural insect repellants are only best effective right where the smoke is concentrated, and that isn't particularly pleasant. Your local hardware store or big box home improvement store likely sells citronella candles and oil along with the tiki torches to stick into the ground around your outdoor eating area.

I am happier dining in an enclosed porch! Even the smallest balcony or porch can host a mini table such as the one shown. Most important is likely a comfortable chair that duplicates an indoor chair in fit and flexibility. Swivel armchairs are extremely appealing for several hours outside. You might just add a seat cushion to an aluminum chair to improve the experience of sitting for a couple of hours.

If you are short on room, try placing a rectangular table up against the wall of the house or the side of the screened-in wall, and it will function like a peninsula. Look for either a drop-leaf table or an outdoor extension table.

For $210, Sam's Club offers a round drop-leaf made of eucalyptus wood, which is supposed to rival teak in hardiness. This table is made in Vietnam from certified renewable wood and requires some assembly. Alternatively, Crate and Barrel offers a 49.5" diameter teak table that conveniently folds into 8" x 49.5" in length with a 2" umbrella hole for $999. For merely $139, you can buy Applaro from IKEA, a well designed rectangular drop-leaf table that extends to 102" and at a minimum is 55" long x 30.75" wide. This is an exceptional value for a wood table that comes with an umbrella hole, yet be aware that it too requires assembly in the field.

You can create a dreamy atmosphere on any porch, patio, and balcony or under a pergola with special lighting. Fortunately, you can find low voltage lights nearly everywhere, from your local drugstore to home improvement stores or retail discount stores. Investigate what a nearby party supply store carries in novelty lights, or mini lights can be stolen from your Christmas decorations if you cannot find them locally at this time of year. I hang clear lights in my backyard pine trees all year long, but you can seasonally attach them to a fence, string them in bushes and trees or mount them on a wooden patio cover. Check Pottery Barn, Sears, Frontgate or Restoration Hardware for votive lights in a wide range of styles, some battery operated so you don't need to worry about a flame at all. Look additionally for solar powered garden lanterns that can be used in landscaping or for mood lighting when hung from a thin pole or stake. Check out places such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart, Ace Hardware and Target stores. Don't forget to look at Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods as well for seasonal fun lighting sets.

Photo Credit: Home Depot

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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Christine Brun
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