Porch Panache



WHO: Anne Strickland

Anne Strickland, principle designer at PORT Manufacturing & Design, believes that “sometimes perfection lies in the imperfections, and details are what make you look twice.” Strickland attended Cranbrook Schools, where she acquired an appreciation for the arts. Following high school, she went on to receive a B.A. in interior design from Michigan State University. After gaining design experience in Chicago, the designer heard the call of her native Birmingham, where she established her company in 2011. In 2013, Strickland won the “Rising Star” award at the Detroit Home Design Awards; she has earned several more awards in the years since.

INSPIRATION: Strickland’s clients, a busy Bloomfield Hills family, wanted a three-season family room where every day felt like a vacation. They were looking for a place where they could both engage in intimate gatherings and entertain guests of all ages. The solution? Expand the existing screened porch (working with builder Lerman Corp.). The space offers stunning panoramic lake views, so thoughtful seating arrangements were a must. The results (shown above) include flexible dining options and, most importantly, an escape from the mundane. Whether lounging hearthside in the fall, enjoying a solitary moment with a good book, or hosting a barbecue for 25, this porch does the trick!

INFO: 248-514-2385, portmfg.com

Clockwise from top: Lane Venture Reddington ottoman, $822; Gloster Havana swivel glider lounge chair, $2,575; and Gloster Havana sofa, $4,215, all from Henredon Interior Design Showroom, Michigan Design Center, michigandesign.com.

Sunbrella Auvent in Garnet, $143/yd., Pindler Showroom; and Weitzner Whitman, to the trade, Tennant & Associates; both from Michigan Design Center, michigandesign.com.



  • Think about flexible seating arrangements for a variety of activities. It’s just as important for the space to feel intimate and cozy for a small group as it is to be comfortable for larger gatherings.
  • While weather is an important variable in Michigan, screened porches can have extended usage if you install ceiling fans for the hot summers and heat lamps for the cooler spring and fall months.
  • It’s nice to have a focal point. Whether it’s a fireplace, porch swing, or seating arrangement, treat the porch as you would any interior space. This includes throw pillows and any accessories that give a room character!

“The chairs and ottoman were selected for their comfort, durability, and transitional style.”
Room photo by Jeff Garland



WHO: Gail Urso

With 30 years of experience creating stylish, casually elegant interiors that will endure for years, the principle designer at Grosse Pointe Park-based Urso Designs, Gail Urso, has a lot to be proud of. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts from Marygrove College in Detroit and a Master of Arts from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. An Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Urso’s experience ranges from residential jobs to diverse contract projects throughout Michigan and across the United States. Her work has been featured in show houses sponsored by the ASID/Detroit Historical Society, the Junior League of Detroit, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, a vacation home Urso designed received a Detroit Home Design Award.

INSPIRATION: When Urso, left, first saw the beautiful yard from the loggia of this Grosse Pointe Park home, a blanket of snow covered the ground and the surrounding evergreen trees. She noticed cardinals perched nearby, joining her in enjoying the spectacular view. That’s when she realized the changing outdoor scenery needed to be the most important element in the design. She was thrilled when she found embroidered fabric from Cowtan & Tout that captured the feeling she was looking for: “It was lovely, spring-like, and gentle,” says the designer. “Although it was only used on a few pillows, it set the tone for the space.”

INFO: 313-824-6300, ursodesignsinc.com

Clockwise from top LEFT: Moraya Bay Collection lounge chair by Lane Venture-Outdoor, $1,827 (shown in Sunbrella Vesper-Ivory fabric in room photo); Raymond Waites Shangri-la Collection by Lane Venture-Outdoor, $2,667; and Moraya Bay ottoman by Lane Venture-Outdoor, $1,062 (shown in Sunbrella Vesper-Ivory fabric in room photo), all from Henredon Interior Design Showroom, Michigan Design Center, michigandesign.com.

Cowtan & Tout Marchwood linen fabric in Leaf Green, to the trade; Samuel & Sons Kensington Onion Tassel Fringe (in room photo, $130/yd.), Rozmallin Showroom, Michigan Design Center, michigandesign.com.



  • The exposure of the room is very important. Consider whether it will receive morning or afternoon sun, whether it’s shielded from the elements, and whether privacy is a factor.
  • How will the space be used? Will it be a quiet space for reading, or will it be a place for entertaining and dining?
  • Assuming the space is open to the elements, select furniture and fabrics that will “weather” well! There are wonderful indoor/outdoor fabrics on the market, as well as handsome patio and porch furniture that can stand up to the elements.