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When you think of a porch, what comes to mind?
Maybe a creaky front step, a screen door that complains when you open it before snapping shut, or a long afternoon in a comfortable chair, feeling the breeze but not the sun.
Porches are a staple of the classic American home, offering a pleasant way to enjoy your outdoor world without completely leaving your house. They symbolize relaxation, connection with neighbors and friends, and a simpler way to live.
Today’s porch can accomplish all of the above, but evolving trends, designs, and even technological capabilities allow you to love this sacred space in a whole new way.
What Should You Consider When Designing a Porch?
Let’s start by assuming you don’t have a front porch but are ready for one (if you do have a porch, feel free to scroll down to the tips below). Before we get any further, there’s something essential to remember throughout this whole process:
A porch isn’t an addition to your home, but an extension of your home.
It should reflect your tastes, personality, and decor preferences. There’s no need to have a single chair or two on an otherwise empty surface (unless you’re just really into the spartan look).
With that said, keep these porch building considerations in mind:
- What will your porch be used for? Quiet seclusion? Big parties? Determining this now will help you plan your must-have items, layout, and furniture.
- Consider traffic flow. Whether you have three guests or thirty, you want people to be able to move around easily, as well as get in and out of the house without someone directing traffic.
- Natural elements! Do you want sun or breeze? Do you want a specific view? Your professional contractor can hear these goals, then turn them into a reality with the right plan.
- Let’s talk amenities! It used to be that the greatest amenity you could enjoy on a porch was a glass of lemonade, but that’s just not the case anymore. We’ll dig into this more below, but it’s important to consider your goals as far as cooking capabilities, sound systems, television, etc…
- Materials! Keeping your stylistic preferences and budget in mind, talk through your options with your builder. From synthetic materials that require almost no maintenance to exotic hardwoods, there’s a lot to talk about.
What Are the Best Materials for a Porch?
Porches are typically elevated structures (if yours isn’t, it’s more likely that it’s really a deck or patio). Because of this, it’s essential that the foundation is up to code and can withstand its burden from above, and also is safely secured below (there are numerous geological factors to consider).
Most often, porches are made from natural wood, ranging from cost-effective fir to more costly, exotic options like Brazilian Ipe. Durable, attractive, synthetic materials also provide a low-maintenance alternative. There are pros and cons to each that you can/should review with your builder.
Stone is a fairly popular alternative, but it adds tremendous weight to the structure which needs to be considered carefully in your construction plan.
How Can You Improve and Enhance Your Existing Porch?
Now let’s assume that you have a porch, but maybe it just needs a little TLC to draw out its full potential. Or, maybe a lot of TLC. Either way, here’s a little design inspiration:
- Painting and staining are the two simplest, yet most powerful ways you can enhance the look of your porch. Just make sure you find a qualified, reputable contractor who will not paint over blemishes but provide the necessary repairs and restoration as well.
- Furniture and decor are next on the list of “most powerful upgrades.” Sure, this can include indoor/outdoor furniture (which is super stylish these days), but don’t forget that you can also include outdoor rugs. Durable and attractive, these rugs are designed to stand up to more rigorous outdoor life and use.
- Porches are synonymous with enjoying a breeze, but nobody says that breeze has to be natural. Installing a ceiling fan overhead is a relatively simple way to take the edge off the heat and keep the air circulating.
- To screen or not to screen? This is definitely a good question! The benefit is that you are locking out annoying bugs that are all too happy to congregate around you and any available light source. You also will gain a little extra privacy, too. The downside is that with that privacy comes an impeded view, less air movement, and more of an indoor vibe. Screens also require upkeep and eventual repair/replacement. So, how do you decide? It really depends on your home, your view, and your own preferences!
Whichever design or construction choices you make, the most important thing is that your porch meets your needs and flows with your home. It’s worth taking the necessary time to ensure that you’re creating a truly functional, beautiful space to enjoy for decades to come.