The Art of the Sleeping Porch

Wind down with flair in this nostalgic summertime haven

Photo: Brie Williams

A sleeping porch on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, ready to catch the sea breeze.

Back before air-conditioning, the Southern sleeping porch served not only as a novelty, particularly for children who thrilled to snoozing outside, but as a necessity. On summer nights, when the air inside a home became stifling, families retreated to these welcome spots—often repurposed screened-in porches—to drift off to sleep in makeshift seasonal beds. Sleeping porches have even appeared in such films as 1991’s Louisiana-set The Man in the Moon, in which a young Reese Witherspoon stays up late in just such a structure with her character’s older sister to muse about life. To keep the tradition from fading into the HVAC ether, you don’t need much more than a few key ingredients.

Photo: Brie Williams


Crisp white sheets with a subtle, menswear-inspired charcoal stripe by Matouk (from $225;, handmade coverlets by Texas-based Vaeven ($1,250 each;, macramé bed skirts by Serena & Lily (from $138;, and a wildly colorful cotton throw by the artist Olivia Wendel ($170; lend a light and cool look to nestled twin beds.

Side Table, Lamp, and Stereo

The designers at Worlds Away in Memphis dreamed up this gunmetal-gray side table with clever storage concealed behind caned-panel doors ($1,215; The sturdy piece also offers a handy perch for a vintage-style lamp by Schoolhouse Electric (from $329; as well as a Bluetooth stereo in a decidedly retro package by Tivoli Audio ($899;

Stools, Rug, and Fan

Keep things casual with relaxed organic materials like those used to craft both the woven-water-hyacinth stools by Mainly Baskets Home ($258 each; and the quirky jute area rug by Serena & Lily ($148; An old-school standing fan by Hunter ($90; maintains a steady breeze in the still of the night.

Tray, Carafe, and Drinkware

A bamboo tray like this one from Dear Keaton ($34;, stocked with a carafe and water glass set from Fieldshop ($66; and enamel tumblers by Crow Canyon ($10–$22 each; that you can fill with chilled cocktails, makes for an easily movable hydration station.