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The Front Porch Lifestyle

The Britties porch 1900s
The Britties porch 1900s Photo credit

As one of the rare architectural features that is social by nature, it goes without saying that the front porch has a welcoming history. In the same realm of American culture as baseball and apple pie, the porch has been an important cultural and transitional space for both the family and the neighborhood since the 1800s.

The Britties porch 1900s Photo Credit
1909 Front porch living Photo credit

Prior to 1950, “front porch living” was a common occurrence. Open to the outdoors and inviting to neighbors and passersby, the traditional porch was an extension of the home, a room outside of a room. With shade from the sun and shelter from wet weather, it provided a place of respite and relaxation after work and through the evening. Mid-century, however, showed a marked decline in porch construction.

This new home was inspired by the stately old homes on Queen Anne in Seattle. The big wrap-around covered porch allows for seating looking out onto the street, as well as views to the Olympics out back. The stone terrace to the right of the front door provides a delightful spot for a sunny morning coffee.
We were inspired by the stately old houses on Queen Anne in Seattle as we designed this new home. The big wrap-around covered porch allows for seating looking out onto the street, as well as views to the Olympics out back. The stone terrace to the right of the front door provides a delightful spot for a sunny morning coffee.

What has tempted us away from this social feature? The disappearance of the front porch can partly be attributed to stylistic changes in building developments. In the ranch house and cape-style homes that were being built post-war, a front porch was less complementary to the facade than with previous styles such as the shingle or stick style house. Also with the advent of air conditioning and new technologies (including TV!) that provided endless entertainment, the need and time for being outside faded as people simply relocated a few feet indoors. For the time spent outdoors, spaces were allocated to the back of the house where private patios and backyards could be kept for family and socializing.

This mid-century rambler features a new front yard addition - kitchen and breakfast nook - that opens up to a south-facing front yard. The deck and front garden court has become a sunny outside room that greets the street in a neighborly way.
This mid-century rambler features a new front yard addition – kitchen and breakfast nook – that opens up to a south-facing front yard. The deck and front garden court has become a sunny outside room that greets the street in a neighborly way.

Recently, however, the front porch is beginning to reappear as a sought-after feature – in Seaside, Florida, porches were required by building code in the city as a part of the “New Urbanist” movement for community-oriented neighborhoods. In Iowa, just this past September, a civic event was held to celebrate and discuss porch design and restoration, and in Seattle, even spec homes are beginning to include modern takes on porches into their designs.

This mid-century remodel and addition is virtually a new house. Being very contemporary in style, a traditional covered porch was not appropriate, yet it’s still important to create a spacious weather-protective canopy at the front entry. Our “porch” is created by the large patio space set along the path from city sidewalk to the front door.
This mid-century remodel and addition is virtually a new house. Being very contemporary in style, a traditional covered porch was not appropriate, yet it’s still important to create a spacious weather-protective canopy at the front entry. Our “porch” is created by the large patio space set along the path from city sidewalk to the front door.

CTA Builds is interested in revitalizing “front porch living” by integrating it into contemporary style – we believe it is essential to building neighborliness in the community! In our recent “Big View” house, we designed a porch front to extend out from the entry in order to add dimension and room for activities. The owners children were as excited as we were about the new addition, eying the patio for future hop-scotch and four-square parties! Updates on its construction will be coming in the next few weeks!

As the organizer of the Iowa event, Mitch Bloomquist, says, “Everybody likes hanging out on a good porch!”


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