Design Q + A: Jenny Slossberg’s outdoor shower and porch

The new front porch, spring 2018.


Tell us the story of your front porch.

Last summer I was able to install a roof on my front porch, finally making it the farmers porch I had hoped for but could not afford when I built my house six years ago. 

I always had intended to have a farmers porch when I designed the house but couldn’t afford it right away. At first I only had plywood down on the deck, but after five years was thrilled to invest in mahogany. Now, with the new roof addition — made with locally sourced locust posts and reclaimed/recycled wainscoting from a teardown on West Chop — I have a whole new outdoor living space to enjoy.

I’m grateful for a custom Brodsky-designed reclaimed chestnut porch swing. We created it with a high back and arms on the side for multiple sitting and reclining opportunities — feet up, bird watching, book reading, and sunset viewing. The roof above allows for sheltered places to drop muddy boots and leave buckets of kindling to remain dry outdoors. Snug behind four-season trees and shrubs full of color and bird attracting features, it’s now a space to sit for shade, or keep things dry, including lighting, and it’s great for thunderstorm watching.

I’ll be planting climbing vines on the posts and searching for vibrant comfy pillows for the swing.


And what about the outdoor shower?

I have a very unique outdoor shower and koi pond and patio area around it, viewable from a small porch/balcony above and created by a big retaining wall and making a nice little “outdoor room.” The area is full of blooming trees, shrubs and vines around the koi pond, spilling over the retaining wall and climbing the arbor that spirals around my outdoor shower.

In early construction of the retaining wall built by the late great John Koslowski, we installed the conduit for the plumbing. We created the opportunity for the water experience in the garden, away from the house, with views of the koi pond surrounded by flower trees, shrubs, and vines.

While you shower, birds and butterflies visit for nectar and stop to rest and wait for their turn at the feeders above. Ducks wander through, foraging for bugs and slugs; occasionally a chicken perches upon the locust post, placed carefully in a spiral with a few criss-crossing pieces placed on the top. We did that so the foliage could climb and spread into lush and fragrant privacy screening. A combination of early- and late-blooming clematis, climbing, roses, wisteria, and trumpet vines adorn the arbor and bloom sequentially all season long, from May through October.

On the retaining wall above, flowering plants and shrubs screen the views into the backyard while moss, ferns, and more plants adorn the ground around the arbor, almost hiding the structure completely.

Jennie Slossberg is the owner of Garden Angels; she can be reached at  508-645-9306.