Screen porches have come a long way
By Margaret Richman

Once overlooked in building plans, screen porches are gaining momentum as construction add-ons to new and existing homes.

Kari (Muenster) Kahlow of Kahlow Interiors in New Holstein deems screen porch additions as sensible extensions of your home.

“Screen porches are now so much more than just a placement of a table and chairs. They have become a great mixed space providing an extension to your living area for entertainment and outdoor enjoyment,” Kahlow said.

“In Wisconsin we have bees, mosquitos, and other bugs that put a damper on a person’s outdoor enjoyment. A screen porch becomes another multifunction room where entertaining, bird watching, slumber parties, and so much more can take place,” Kahlow said.

Educated at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point receiving a bachelor of science in Interior Design and a minor in Art, Kahlow initially worked for Peabody Interiors based in Whitefish Bay and then Interior Systems Inc. designing for commercial projects. Although some of her clients were local to Wisconsin (McDonalds in Chilton, Marcus Cinemas, Trek Bicycles, Outdoor Outlet and Harley Davidson), Kahlow traveled frequently throughout the country. As her wedding neared, Kahlow made a major career change.

A better balance in life

“Interior Systems Inc. was a global company; I had projects in most states and as the creative director was required to be at our offices in Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. I needed to make a decision if I was going to continue to be a jet-setter with my company or seek a better life balance now that I was engaged,” Kahlow said.

Kahlow left the company and set out on her own. Word-of-mouth of her departure proved fruitful. Burg Homes & Design built her custom home and inquired about her availability to design for their clients. “The whole thing leap-frogged into designing for high-end homes, second homes, and particularly lake homes from the Green Lake area all the way to Arizona,” Kahlow said.

Recently Kahlow has consulted on a number of screen porch interior designs to area homes. “A fun aspect of doing these big, beautiful homes is the screen porch. I encourage people to make it your own space. Sofas and sectionals are now made with all-weather resistant products like woven wicker and Sunbrella fabrics. There are many choices in beautiful indoor-outdoor weather resistant rugs. The old vision of fake green carpet and screens is gone and limits no longer exist.”

“People tend to want an alternative entertainment area in their home. This is a

Interior designer Kari Kahlow (right) of New Holstein sits with clients Sarah Willett of Stockbridge and Shawn Sanderfoot of Menasha on Shawn’s screen porch. These screen porches show that they are no longer places just for “artificial turf” green carpets.

simple addition with pouring a concrete slab, often acid staining the concrete, and building the structure. Fireplaces and decorative space heaters can be added and provide for up to an eight-month living space in Wisconsin and extend the enjoyment of the addition. I also encourage people to wire for television but not necessarily install a TV. Television on the screen porch can then be used for a special occasion like a Packer party,” Kahlow said.

Eclectic with modern twist

Kahlow describes her personal decorating style as eclectic with a rustic modern twist and not having a design stamp. She has merged her commercial and residential backgrounds and refers to herself as a “Pinterest addict.” (Pinterest is an internet site for the inspiration and collection of endless ideas on much more than just decorating.) “The internet is so powerful to acquire ideas that I encourage my clients to browse. I am not married to a particular showroom so I am

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