April 11, 2014

Enjoy spring on a new porch

More and more home owners are using their front porches for traditional outdoor purposes and enjoying the increased interaction this creates with their community.
(Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Outdoor living spaces are one of the most popular design trends of the past few years in both new home construction and remodeling, and it’s a trend that looks like it’s going to be around for many years to come.

Judges for the recent Best in American Living Awards, an annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) competition, noted outdoor spaces as an essential design trend that has expanded to homes nationwide and is at the top of many home buyer and renters’ must-have lists.

Whether you’re remodeling to make your home better suited to your family’s current lifestyle or sprucing it up to be more attractive to potential buyers, adding a porch can be a great option.

Here are some things you should think about when planning your new porch, whether you plan to build it yourself or hire a contractor:

Size matters

The porch is an accessory, so it shouldn’t overwhelm the main structure of the house. It should, however, be large enough to look like part of your home instead of an afterthought.

“Think about the activities that might take place in this space and the ways you’d like to use the porch,” says Jason Broderick of Broderick Builders, a Nashville-based remodeling company. “If you envision dining al fresco with your family during the warm weather months, you’ll want a porch that’s at least eight to 10 feet deep to accommodate a good-sized table and chairs. Six feet or so should be sufficient if you just want to place a loveseat or a couple of chairs outside.”

All about location

If your home has the flexibility, what side of your home your porch is on also can be an important factor. A south-facing porch will take advantage of the sun’s heat, but also could get uncomfortable during the summer. If the idea of cocktails at sunset is appealing, place your porch facing west. Early risers may want maximum light to read the paper and sip coffee with eastern exposure.

A current trend finds more people opting to use the front of their houses, a custom with deep historical roots that once was considered standard practice for most homeowners.

“In the 19th century the porch was always located on the front of the house,” says Nancy Moore, president and founder of The Porch Company. “The backyard contained the barn, the chicken coop, the kitchen garden and other practical resources of the day. It wasn’t until the advent of electricity that we moved indoors and the front porch became a forgotten piece of architecture.

“When people did return to the outside of their homes they naturally gravitated to the large, vacant spaces now available in their backyards. Decks and screened-in porches followed and the popularity of outdoor living spaces flourished.”

Now it seems people are rediscovering the spaces in front of their homes.

“In recent years the front porch has been making a comeback,” Moore says. “It’s still primarily a façade, more pleasing to the eye than functional. But more and more home owners are using their front porches for traditional outdoor purposes and enjoying the increased interaction this creates with their community.”

Consider features

To ensure aesthetic continuity, try to use the same materials to build your porch as are used in the home, especially the exterior surfaces. This includes coordinating millwork and other design motifs so your new porch integrates smoothly with the rest of your home.

Also take into account other factors that could affect your enjoyment of your new porch.

“Consider installing screens if you live in an insect-friendly area, or glass windows so you can extend the days of the year you can use the porch in cooler climates,” says Broderick, current president of the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee’s Remodelers Council. “If you plan to use the porch during the night hours, make sure you install either sufficient lighting or outlets for lamps. A ceiling fan is a good idea to make the space more comfortable in warm temperatures.”

Before you know it, you and your family can begin to relax and enjoy the summer season from the comfort of your new porch — or an attractive feature to offer to would-be buyers.
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Dillon Mike (2014 March 29) Enjoy spring on a new porch. Retrieved on March 31, 2014 from Tennessean.com

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