Friday, May 13, 2005
Well-designed porch looks good and welcomes visitors
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
We have all had the unwelcoming experience of approaching a home without a porch. It's raining and you hug as close as possible to the door to avoid the dripping rain from the eave. Balancing with one foot on the step and the other on the pathway, you hope someone heard your knock and comes quickly.
This is obviously not the kind of entry that provides a warm welcome and sets a proper tone for your interactions with visitors. The entry of a home is critical to the initial impression guests receive. A sheltered entry is a receiving place that helps you and your visitors make the transition from public to private space. When properly designed, a porch not only makes visitors feel welcome, but also improves the looks of a home by adding a place of focus and interest.
The essential elements of a porch include a landing, a cover and windows in or around the door. Even when steps are not needed, a slightly raised landing acts as a receiving place, prepared for guests to wait until the door is opened. When steps are necessary, the landing also provides a stable and roomy surface to stand on.
The cover is essential to provide shelter from the weather, keeping rain, snow, or hot sun off your guests from above and keeping ice from forming below their feet. Providing a window in or near the door will help your guests know that the doorbell worked or their knock was heard because they can see you coming.
Architecturally, porches do more than protect an entrance. They provide a sense of scale and should add to the beauty of a home. Because of their position on the front of a home, they are often the most prominent feature of the design. Porches can range in size from a simple gable over the door to a large wrap-around porch to a complex two-story structure. Porch columns and railings provide a strong design statement and must be carefully chosen to enhance the style of your home.
Psychologically, porches hark back to an earlier day when life was slower and neighborhoods friendlier. Before the advent of air conditioning, porches served as places to gather to cool off in the evening breeze, to relax with a refreshing drink and to catch up on the local gossip from passing neighbors.
Now, decades later, a new enthusiasm for porches has emerged as people today look for a return to gentler times and for places to gather their friends and family around them. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.