Dream time

Take advantage of balmy summer nights with an outdoor sleeping platform
Mary Jo Bowling

There's something irresistibly romantic about sleeping outside. Long a part of cowboy and camping traditions, it achieved architectural expression in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the rise of the sleeping porch; Sunset published an early story on it in 1915. The idea continues to evolve. Whether used for a daytime catnap or a full night's rest, open-air sleeping platforms can give you a chance to enjoy summer weather to the fullest.

Garden sanctuary

As a child, Marni Leis wanted a backyard playhouse. She realized her dream as an adult by building what she calls her "teahouse." The 6- by 13-foot screened pavilion occupies a wooden platform near a small pond. Gauzy curtains frame the entrance and provide privacy and bug protection when needed. A shallow gabled roof covered with translucent fiberglass shelters the area from rain and drizzle without blocking the light.

She furnished the space with comfortable, stylish pieces, including a chair found at a flea market, an old coffee table, and an antique daybed. "I used fabrics I could wash easily, because they are exposed to the elements," she says. "I also used pieces that meant something to me. These give the place an air of nostalgia. When you're there, you feel like you could be in another time or place. It's great to get outside away from the noise and be alone with nature."

DESIGN: Marni Leis Design, Mill Valley, CA (415/381-0859)