Home and Garden: Porch Pleasures

Streetside, tucked away or overlooking a lovely view, a porch is the perfect retreat on a summer’s day. If you don’t have one- add one!

Porch Pleasures


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Whether it’s streetside and friendly, tucked away, or overlooking a sensational view, there’s no better place to spend a summer’s day. No porch? Just add one!


Photographs by Rob Karosis

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The American porch has evolved from the most primitive lean-to attached to a log cabin, to a comfortable outdoor room complete with sofa, wet bar, and cozy rug underfoot. It has become an architectural mainstay, reflecting the vernacular building styles of every region in the country.


And no wonder. A porch is the perfect antidote to the hectic lives we lead today. It can be useful and beautiful at the same time. It offers shelter and extra living space, but it’s much more than a place to plant a rocking chair — adding one has the power to transform your home. If you’re thinking of building a porch, take a look at those you find attractive in pictures or in your neighborhood and try to determine what it is you like. A well-designed front porch can add character, balance and symmetry, scaling down an imposing two-story house, or dressing up a nondescript brick box. A gabled “farmhouse” porch can give a cookie-cutter colonial a warmer, more welcoming feel.


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Some porches add curb appeal, some are spacious enough to be great entertaining spaces, but they can be very private too, a place where you can daydream, nap, read, or sit quietly with a baby — enjoying the comforts of home and a breath of fresh air at the same time. Even if your neighbors are only a few yards away, privacy can be created with blinds, shutters or lattice.


Because most porches are casual places, they lend themselves to furnishing that are not too fussy — think wicker and twig furniture, flea market finds and fabrics that can take the wear and tear of an outdoor space. There’s a wide range of options, but put comfort above all else.


Adding a porch: a few tips


• Mirror the architectural details of your home — posts, rails, roof lines, eaves and foundations — so that the porch will be in harmony.

• Choose materials that match or are sympathetic to the existing structure.

• Proportion is crucial. If the design doesn’t look right on paper, chances are it won’t look good in reality. 

• Make sure construction is sound. Porches must shed water, avoid rot and withstand the elements.

• Electrical outlets allow you to use ceiling fans in summer, space heaters when it’s cool, and can bring music, TV, and movies into the mix. 

• A screened porch is the most roomlike of all, combining the pleasures of outdoors with no pesky bugs to bother you. When it’s attached to a room in the house, both spaces benefit from shared vistas and an expanded sense of space. 

• Exposed rafters and plain posts and rails can keep costs down and lend a simple elegance.


No porch is cheap to build, but compared to heated, finished spaces, a porch is a bargain. Where else can you get comfort, space, good looks, and an improved floor plan? Talk about home improvement! ●

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