The Front Porch is Back
During the last few decades, the front facade of most new suburban homes was dominated by a garage. This placement of the garage was convenient for homeowners who wanted to quickly enter their homes after work and put all the noise and confusion of the day behind them. If they wanted to spend time outside, they went to their private deck or patio out back. Family life centered around the backyard.
Today’s families are happily rediscovering the advantages of the front porch. A front porch provides opportunities for people to meet and connect with their neighbors, often developing meaningful relationships. These shared experiences tie neighborhood families together and help create a sense of community.
Friendship with one’s neighbors and pride in the surrounding community are important factors in maintaining public safety, since homeowners who are engaged in their neighborhoods tend to keep a watchful eye on their streets. Many city governments have noticed this phenomenon and have modified their setback rules to encourage the building of front porches on new and existing homes.
Homeowners also enjoy having a choice about where they can spend their time outdoors. Even those who have an impressive outdoor living space in their backyards will often add a front porch to their existing homes. On the front porch they can interact with their neighbors, while in the backyard they relax comfortably with their closest friends. Once a front porch is added to their homes, some homeowners end up spending the majority of their time there, just so they do not miss out on what is going on in their neighborhoods!
Another important aspect of a front porch is that it enhances the curb appeal of a home. Instead of the emphasis being on the home’s garage and the hurried lifestyle that often represents, a front porch evokes nostalgic thoughts of a slower-paced, friendlier time. A home appears more welcoming when a front porch is added on.
A well-designed porch requires thoughtful planning in order to offer valuable and attractive living space. If the porch is too narrow, it will become a mere decorative accessory. It should be large enough to allow ample furnishings and still permit people to move about comfortably. The porch should be raised at least 24 inches from the level of the sidewalk to provide a sense of privacy from the street, and designed with a gentle slope to run off rainwater.
When a front porch is added to an existing home, it is important that it coordinate with the architectural style of the home. The proportion and scale of the columns and balustrades should be considered. Many new, easy-care vinyl or wood-composite products are available as an alternative to the traditional wood planks, balusters and railings that require regular maintenance.