I love to sit on my front porch at the end of the day or on the weekend with a book and a cup of coffee. Almost always my neighbors stop to chat. Sometimes it’s just for a minute and sometimes it morphs into dinner or drinks on the porch. And then other neighbors stop by… and I catch up on what’s going on without leaving the shade and comfy chairs of my front porch.
Adding a front porch or other outdoor garden room is one of the most dramatic and cost-effective changes you can make to your home. Here are 2 porches I’ve done in the past few years where my clients report benefits much like I’ve observed with my own porch.
Cigars on the Concrete Front Porch
The husband, Dan, was initially reluctant to add a porch. Now he wonders “why didn’t we build it sooner? We never used our front yard. It was just a way to get into the house. Our porch has given us a place we sit, meet neighbors, and enjoy our street”. Their Porch has two sitting area – one very open to the neighborhood (above) and one more secluded and private (below). When they want to interact with the neighbors they sit on the side that’s more open to the street. The acid-stained concrete porch is very close to the ground so there are no railings to separate them from the yard and the street.
The other side, above, is more sheltered by landscaping and — while railing is still not needed — the porch is higher off the ground providing more separation from the street. Arlene laughs about sending Dan and his friends to the porch to smoke cigars after dinner. The ceiling fans on both sides keep both the cigar smoke and the mosquitoes away. The central wood bench hides the gas and electric services and Arlene reports that she often sits on the bench to go through the mail while their cat lounges on the sun-heated stone insert.
A Side Porch That Acts As a Front Porch
The remodel of the home, above, won an award from the local historic preservation group for reconnecting the home to the neighborhood. The house is situated on a corner and the front entry was steep (see before picture, below). We added the porch to the right side of the house. Now friends and family always enter from the more level alternate street side. Again, note that the porch is low to the ground – without railings – which welcomes the neighbors to say hello and stop and visit. The porch also helps balance the addition built on the left side of the house. Many neighbors commented on how much better balanced the house now feels.
So what’s the value of a front porch?
New Rooms To Live In: An expansive, shady front porch offers a delightful retreat. Add ceiling fans, comfortable chairs and tables and you’ve just added alot more square footage to your home! Not to mention, a special place to unwind and watch the rest of the world whirl by.
Neighborhood Integration: You’ll meet and talk with neighbors you’ve only nodded to before. Your kid’s friends will prefer your place to others for playing on the porch. Nothing beats a covered front porch for entertaining! It’s a wonderful place to socialize, catch up on the latest news or just relax and enjoy the company.
Curb Appeal: The front entry sets the stage for your home. First impressions make a huge difference in how your family, friends and neighbors view your home. A dramatic transformation happens when a “flat-faced” home receives a new, covered front porch.
Added Value: Enhanced curb appeal can translate into a higher selling price and faster sale for your home down the road.
Protection from the Elements: A front entry with no covering exposes your guests and home to damaging sun and rain. A porch or portico provides great protection for your front door, hardware, trim, lighting—and even, foyer. And your guests will truly appreciate it on rainy or hot, sunny day. It can even help lower your summer energy bills.
So now back to my porch (below). It is in desperate need of repair – like the cobbler’s children going barefoot. But the general disrepair doesn’t in any way detract from my use of the porch as an extension of my living room and an extension of my studio. One side is for enjoying informal interactions with my neighbors. I think of the other side as part of my studio with a work table where I do dirty work I don’t want in inside. Both sides are wonderful places to watch the world go by.
And here’s one of my favorite Porches:
To read more about these front porches: