We recently read that President Taft had a sleeping porch built (below) on the roof of the White House in the 20’s. On hot summer nights, the first family could sleep up there to cool off. It allowed the President retreat up there to chill and look out over Washington. It was improved in 1927 when the third floor was expanded. Grace Coolidge called it the “Sky Parlor”.
We LOVE this for two reasons: that a man living in such straight-laced conditions as the Presidency would do something so personal and eccentric.
And that WE love sleeping outside as well, and often sleep out on our top-floor terrace, so we can look out at the giant trees in the park across the way and the stars, while listening to the lilt of Motown from the folks hanging out on the corner. (Nobody can see us as our ornamental grasses hide us.) We always preferred the tent guesroom our friends would erect when a crowd would emerge for several day reunions.
We’re always on the lookout for cool impermanent shacks — “sky parlors” — that can be erected on a roof, a yard, even indoors as a rustic office or private space.
Recently we stumbled on this image of a shack designed by design studio Jiun Ho, constructed of 2-x-4’s and fabric.
Tents can be fun but you need stakes that can batten them down (heavy concrete blocks might do as anchors).
Bivouac New York rents spaces for roof-top camping. Proprietor Thomas Stevenson has devised a cool lean-tos made of wood and canvas for romantic nights sleeping under an urban sky (you’d be amazed how beautiful it is). Images on his website give you a rough idea of how they’re made.