Heads up! This post is HEAVY on the images so if you don't have a high-speed internet link you'll need some patience. I'm thinking of my island friends mostly, but it all depends on your own circumstances. As always, we thank you for your support. -Management

A What?

The term has been around for decades, but many people haven't heard of a "Florida Room". It came about before air conditioning went from rare, to common, to a required part of living in the South. Originally a small space with louvered glass jalousie windows with screens, Florida Rooms allowed people to enjoy evening breezes without having to swat mosquitoes.

And the name wasn't restricted to the State of Florida. Here's a short article about their rise and demise in the Washington, D.C. area. In it's most basic form, a Florida Room is a sun room with lots of windows for light, but mostly for the breezes. We love to continue traditions like this, so to us it's not a sun room, it's a Florida Room baby!

The Love Shack is a little old place...
The Love Shack is a little old place...

Before

In our new/old house, the Florida room is on the south side of the building but nicely shaded most of the time by our tall bamboo forest. Back in the day, it was a simple screened-in patio, but in this house as we bought it, they had taken care of that. The room was a completely closed off little cave with little glass block windows and not much else. Those glass blocks of course didn't open and it only had a small back door with a half pane of glass in it. It was crazy boring I tell you!

In the sale literature, the room was billed as a quiet space to do yoga or read. I guess it was that, but it sure wasn't "us", and that's why the Florida Room reno became a must-have for this couple.

We had a vision of making that room a wall of windows with a large sliding door on the back and another window on the front. I went about playing in Sketchup and came up with this design, with plenty of Deb's input of course.

It was a complete transformation of the space, but we saw no reason it couldn't be done, the only caveat being that the front window would be going in a concrete wall, necessitating a serious cutting job.

IMG_3652

During

This was going to be another job for our contractor, not because we "couldn't" do it, but because we didn't want to do it, learning along the way. And let's face it, cutting that concrete wall is not a job for amateurs. It also helped that he has an easy relationship with the county building inspector, making that part almost seamless. He also had a good source of high quality hurricane-impact-rated windows and doors, the ability to haul lumber, drywall, plywood, etc. etc. He had tools and people to cut concrete, and a couple of stucco guys to finish it all off. It was just going to be too much for us to do.

Back up a minute to that line about having a good source for windows and doors. A good source, in the times of pandemic-impacted supply chains, did not apparently mean a fast source, and therein lay the problem. The doors and windows were scheduled out many, many weeks, months even. But our contractor's guys went ahead and did the demolition on the existing walls, taking it down to the studs and then setting up for framing.

The framing was straightforward, but the work on that front window, cutting through the concrete block wall, that was impressive! And then framing that out with lumber, properly, that was interesting to see as well.

We got very excited seeing it all opened up to the breeze and the sunshine! And then, without a care in the world, the carpenters started closing it all back in. The way they do this sort of thing is to cover the entire wall with plywood and then when the windows come in, they cut out the plywood in the framed areas. That's all fine, we were just enjoying it there for a short minute.

Little did we know at the time, at that point we were in for a long winter's nap. The windows were still weeks out and we got to stare at plywood walls all that time.

But during this time period, the electrical work was being done and I had them add outlets high on the front and back walls. Since that room had a low ceiling, a ceiling fan was not a good choice. We decided on wall fans, hence the high outlets, which had a semi-rustic old Florida style. I also had them add some framing to easily mount the fans.

FINALLY windows started arriving, after a couple of months!, and things kicked in to another gear. We were not quite on the home stretch, but we could see it from there. The space started to resemble what we had in our minds' eyes (and computer's eye). Well, to temper the excitement, the windows were coming in, but with some significant gaps. One window was missing, and some of the hardware was as well. Both sliding door panels came in, but not the *frame* that you need to install it. And the beat went on. It was all blamed on Covid-19, and some of that was legit but honestly, some of it was just people doing a poor job.

Eventually all the parts arrived and after Norm pitched a minor hissy fit about bumping us up in their priorities, they finally came in and finished the room up. This just goes to show that sometimes, a hissy fit is not only warranted, but can be a valuable tool in the ole renovation toolbox.

After that, we had an understanding. At one point, we asked him when the "mud guy" (drywall finisher) was going to show up. His reply was, "Well, he said Monday, so you know what that means." So one or two days after that, maybe? "You got it".

And After

After all that, here's how it finished up. We have a nice mix of bright summer freshness and light, along with a little bit of old Florida that we're still fine tuning.

On the inside, we currently have french doors separating the Florida Room from the living room, giving us the ability to close it off from the rest of the house and enjoy the ocean breezes. Alternatively, we can close the windows, open the doors, and have the air conditioning cool us down (or heat to warm us up!). That said, we're still deciding whether to remove the french doors to open up the space more. We'll probably hold off on that decision until we've been here an entire year, through both seasons, summer and winter. A point of reference for my Colorado peeps, winter here is a lot like late spring or early fall there. Nice warm days in the 70s (usually) which cool down at night into the 50s and 60s (usually). So in the winter, we have the windows open a fair amount in the whole house, but mostly only during the day.

That celebration photo might look a bit premature since the room wasn't done in that image, but that's when we were celebrating getting the contractor out of our house!

It's a real modern Florida Room now, and we couldn't be happier. We almost literally spend all our time there, and not just because we're still working on the living room and kitchen (blog posts yet to come!).

TODAY'S SPECIAL: "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing", by Jack Johnson. We know this is a song about unrequited love, but the lyrics are almost too perfect for the special relationship we had with our contractor, and all the sitting, waiting, and wishing we did!

Personal Note: one of our sweet little canine travelers has passed away at 13. Maxwell was such a good boy; I've never had a dog that tried so hard to be the best boy as our little Maxwell. A world traveller, he came from Colorado, went to Florida with us, Utila, Roatan, Vieques Puerto Rico, back to Colorado, back to Puerto Rico, and back to Florida. Rest in Peace little guy; you deserve it. We won't forget you.

MaxwellCar

18 Comments

  1. Linda on March 21, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Congratulations on your lovely new space! Thank you for sharing. This would have been a 2 year project in Isla Nina! 不不不不

    • Deb on March 21, 2021 at 10:32 am

      不不不 yep

    • Lou Probasco on March 21, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      Beautiful and reminiscent of working in islands. Enjoy.

    • Norm Pyle on March 21, 2021 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks Linda, I think you are correct. 2 years best case!

  2. Kevlar on March 21, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Wow. That Florida room story brought back a flood of memories, from when I was a little kid, arguing with my brothers about whose turn it was to sleep in my grandparents’ Florida room, when it was used as overflow sleeping space, in Lantana, Florida – not far from you guys!

    • Kevlar on March 21, 2021 at 12:50 pm

      Sooooo sorry to hear about Maxwell. Dogs leave behind such a big hole in your life.

    • Norm Pyle on March 21, 2021 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks Kevlar! Yes, Lantana isn’t too far at all! You need to bring a sleeping bag if you’re going to sleep in our Florida Room. And thanks for the kind words on Maxwell.

  3. Alouise Skehan Pyle on March 21, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    The house looks WONDERFUL Enjoy every minute in it.

    Love, Alouise

    • Norm Pyle on March 22, 2021 at 8:07 am

      Thank you very much Alouise!

  4. Perry on March 22, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Hi Norm,

    “Florida Room” is a new concept, especially for the Frozen Chosin of North Dakota. What are the requirements of “Florida Room”?

    I have a “Lake Powell Room” – the top deck of a houseboat in the desert southwest. “Lake Powell Room” has no walls, no windows, no screens, no doors. There’s a little spiral staircase from the lower deck, a “Sun Roof” for shade and the solar collectors above, some tables, chairs, and chaise lounges, but that’s about it. Oh, and a 200+ watt stereo system. No screens, because no bugs, because no green. It’s all red in the Four Corners area.

    Perhaps “Florida Room” has requirements beyond “Lake Powell Room”, like fortification from roaming alligators and jaguars. I can respect Florida predators that weigh as much as me, AND have pointy teeth.

    The nearest equivalent at Powell is a badger-sized mammal. I encountered one years ago in the total darkness of the galley and convinced it that “this is not the place for you”. Since then, we close the front door at night. Now, we mostly avoid the desert mice (hantavirus) that see the approaching houseboat as “desert smorgasbord”.

    • Norm Pyle on March 22, 2021 at 8:11 am

      Thanks for checking in Perry. We don’t have too many scary creatures, but we definitely keep the doors closed at night! There’s a black snake that I’ve had to chase out of the garage a couple of times. I want him outside eating rodents and such, not in my garage where he’d starve. Your “Lake Powell Room” sounds really nice! Do you get bats?

      • Perry on March 23, 2021 at 11:05 am

        Bats are a feature at Powell – we like ’em. ~8″ wingspan and quite fragile. They do their thing (eat flying insects), we do ours (eat dinner on the top deck). Complicated shapes (like the sun roof, side rails, and humans) mess with their sonar – and eating – so they avoid us. Occasionally, someone will get “buzzed” by a bat, but nobody has been hit. I have seen bats prowling just above the water, so I think the bugs are emerging larvae, thinking about sex. Hunting always seems to devolve into waiting for the prey to become distracted.

        Like you, we close the doors after dusk, although the crew sometimes forgets and lets in a few critters.

        Good luck with your “pet” snake. I also prefer having a few predators around to keep down the pests.



  5. LISA HOWARD on March 23, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I am so sorry to hear about Max…it is so hard to loose a best friend! I love your new space…your “Florida Room” it is beautiful! Oh…it sure looks like ya’ll are gaining more “Stuff”…just had to congratulate you both on coming to that place and point in your journey!

    • Norm Pyle on March 23, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks Lisa, it was tough to see Maxwell go. As for stuff, yes, we have had to gain some stuff. It just has to be when you are renovating, or even simply buying a house, when starting from nothing. It definitely deserves a blog post update on Stuff!

  6. Laurisa on March 23, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    I used to call it a Florida room but now being in the northeast people call them sun rooms or just screened in porches (boring). Your transformation looks so awesome and that breeze I’m sure is so worth all the work! So sorry to hear about Maxwell. It’s so hard to lose our pups as it is, let alone when they’re the best. May he always live in your memories <3

    • Norm Pyle on March 23, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Laurisa. I hope your pup is doing well. Kirby loves hanging out in the new Florida Room BTW. <3

  7. David on March 29, 2021 at 11:26 am

    Another great blog and very impressive remodeling work. You should certainly feel proud of the design and construction work. It really looks nice. And condolences for Maxwell. Our pets passing leave a big hole in our hearts.

    • Norm on March 29, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks David! We definitely appreciate all your kind words.

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