Almost everyone has a wonderful memory of time spent on a porch on a lovely summer day; it’s often a special place where we have gathered with friends, and family to enjoy the beautiful weather and relax for a bit. No matter what your memory, it is bound to bring back a nostalgic feeling of summer freedom. The designers at JRP Architects believe that the porch has become an increasingly essential extension of a home; it creates charm, increases the function of the home, and adds value, along with allowing for a myriad of delightful memories residents may create once the project is complete. A porch is, simply put, a covered outdoor space that marks the transition between the inside and the outside of a home. Often a porch is one of the first elements people notice about a residence, and the addition of a porch is often able to transform homes from bland and mundane to striking and oozing with curb appeal. A porch allows the residents to demonstrate their sense of style while still maintaining the privacy of the interior of their home; they can make a statement and share their personalities through the design, furnishings and decor they select. The porch provides a welcoming element to what might otherwise be a rather mundane and lackluster facade, and the addition of even a small porch can add significant curb appeal and property value.

Studies have repeatedly shown the importance of establishing a community. “Our relationships, more than anything else, set the stage for our health, happiness, and well-being. Research indicates that the quality of our social relationships affects a range of health outcomes, such as our mental health, physical health, and mortality risk. We are relational beings in nature, and when we’re isolated or detached from a community, our health and mental health can quickly take a toll. Life is hard enough on its own. We’re not meant to go about it alone.” (Umberson & Montez, 2010). A front porch is an invitation for neighbors to stop by for a chat; porches encourage a neighborhood to become a real community rather than a group of people living isolated lives. 

Aesthetics and connections to neighbors are only parts of the porch package, however; a porch can give the homeowner many functional benefits that outweigh any additional cost to a design project. It provides many of the same services as a patio or deck, providing places for outdoor eating and entertaining for example, but with a lot more going for it! The addition of the wall shared by the main house and a roof above means there are never any worries about changes in the weather. A sudden rainstorm needn’t ruin a party, and the endless Monopoly game can remain on the table for days without fear of pieces being blown away. It is important for clients to think carefully about how they want a porch to function for them. Someone who entertains a great deal will probably want a porch that is large enough to host cocktail parties, while another client may just want a few rocking chairs and a small table to enjoy after dinner coffee. An architect can help a client determine how they want their porch to add to their living space and will help them decide on the most appropriate size and materials for their needs.

An open porch on the front of a house will provide enviable curb-appeal, but a back porch has many advantages as well. A screened porch off the kitchen is a wonderful place to enjoy summer meals: a leisurely breakfast, a refreshing lunch that breaks up the workday, and sunset dinner at the end of a long day. It can also provide a safe play space for children; they can enjoy fresh air when parents don’t have the time to monitor them outdoors, and those messy craft projects stay contained and out of the house proper. Screen porches can be designed to fit between the kitchen and the grill on the patio, making outdoor living easy and comfortable. Once cooler weather arrives, a porch can be a great place to shed snowy boots and ice-covered hats, and during the wet spring, a porch off the kitchen doubles as a mudroom, helping to keep the interior spaces clean.

Porches are making a comeback, and there is clearly a myriad of reasons why. Whether it is a new home design or a reimagining of a home you have lived in for years, porches add increased ventilation, a connection with nature, additional light, and a sense of relaxation. A well-designed porch will not only improve your lifestyle, but it will also add value to your home and make it more marketable when it is time to sell. Adding a porch is a decision that will positively impact you and your family for years to come.