YES, REMODELING THE KITCHEN and adding the great room was a big (and expensive) project all by itself. But while we were at it, it made sense to add the veranda along the length of the great room. It's almost a mirror image at 22 feet deep and 33 feet long. And when we open all three sets of those 10-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling, accordion-style glass doors, the combined space is gigantic. We had no trouble fitting all those people who came for the hospital fundraiser last month (thankfully, the project was finished in time).

I remember initially thinking we could get away with a shallower veranda, but our architect was right: It's a relatively cheap space to build, and we can set up furniture out there, like it's another family room, without tripping over it on our way in and out of the house. With that gas fireplace and natural stone hearth, not to mention the fact that the veranda faces north, toward a side street, I can see us using the “outdoor living room” around the clock, year-round.