Front Porch Designs: Ideas, Photos and More

In our quest to enjoy our homes, we’ve increasingly been looking to the outdoor spaces and yards as places to create more livable room.  This is not necessarily a new fact, porches have long been the staple of the American dream home.  At some point, we’ve all known or have an image of those front porch designs with the white railings, flowers in the planters and the iconic porch swing hanging by chains from the roof.

In some respects, we have lost this space to more modern design elements like outdoor rooms – backyard patio and living spaces that increase the livable square footage of your home.  However, the front porch is not gone.  In many parts of the country, that porch is coming back.  We’ll explore some of the reasons here and give you some great design ideas for your own cozy porch.

Porch Designs

What makes one porch design ‘better’ than another is not necessarily its size, but the way in which you can enjoy the space you’ve created.  There are also specific elements that can be taken into account that will provide more in the way of aesthetics than they do anything structural or functional.

It’s probably a good idea to discuss some of the more popular porch designs or styles that you might see when browsing around.  This will help you get a better idea and feel for the types of period pieces or design elements that might be better suited for your architecture and style of home.

 

Victorian Style – photo credit
Victorian Stylephoto credit
The Victorian style is characteristic of more whimsical shapes and designs among the gable and railing pieces.  In this example, you’ll quickly notice the choice of colors.  This is also a very Victorian style, with the use of bold – if not brash – colors.  The use of trim details, carved pieces and turned posts and rails are common as well. Here is a more simple style of Victorian porch.  You’ll recognize the detailing on the gables and the characteristic posts and rails. 

The details on this home and the porch are not as fanciful or whimsical as other Victorian styles.  Additionally, you’ll find that a simple white or off-white color is equally attractive.

Country Style – photo credit
Contemporary Style – photo credit
There may be nothing more of an icon than the rocking chair or porch swing as the quintessential piece of porch furniture.  In this photo, we can see the white picket rails, some simple exterior shutters, those white rocking chairs and a nice hardwood porch floor.  In many places, Ipe – an exotic hardwood – is becoming a popular choice for decking material. This design is a more modern interpretation, combining features of a sustainable home with those of a Craftsman-era look and feel.  The choice of materials in this case gave the facade a more modern look and the two story addition added more depth and (obviously) height to the front porch.

Craftsman Stylephoto credit Craftsman Style – photo credit
This is the typical looking Craftsman style home with a bold front porch design.  Notice the use of the stone base and robust column features.  Albeit small in this particular case, this mix of simple, yet bold lines gives the porch its prominent stance. 

As the gateway into the home, these types of porches served as great welcoming spaces and areas to enjoy the company of friends and family for generations.

The Craftsman-era home has more of an air of modernist design to it.  It often has a simple geometry and clean lines with bold pillars supporting the porch roof. 

In some cases – like this – the porch can also be enclosed.  You can still get an idea as to the prominence of the pillars and the use of strong elements, like brick.

Of course, you can also design your own custom porch as well.  With the inspiration from some of the design ideas like the photos above, or from your other searches, you can come up with a porch design that is perfect for your needs.  Some of the elements that you’ll need to take into account are the gable, the railings, (front) doors, brackets and spandrels and more.  Let’s briefly discuss some of the possibly lesser known parts of the porch.

Gables – This is the aspect of the roof where two adjacent slopes meet – a triangular-shaped region.  Often, porch features have this element centered over the front door.  In the Victorian styles, this will often be highly decorative, carved or otherwise distinguishable from other elements of the porch materials, if only painted a different color.

Railings – These are not difficult to understand, but it is in their many variations that we bring your attention.  Similar in many ways to deck railing designs, these are more likely to be made of wood or more modern PVC materials that resist weathering and require less maintenance.  Railings can be square, round or turned – again, common with Victorian styles.  The more square, bold railings are common with Craftsman, Country and Modern or Contemporary styles.

Brackets – We mention this here only to point out that if you don’t want to have too much detailing in your porch, but would like some areas that attract the eye, then you can choose a variety of bracket details.  These will not only help to strengthen corners and joints on your porch, but they will add an aesthetic detail that gives you another dimension to your design.  They can also be used strictly for decorative purposes and installed after construction.

Spandrels – The dictionary definition of a spandrel is that space defined between a curved feature and a rectangular boundary.  In the case of a porch, these elements are what can be used to go between posts of your porch and the header beam or roof line.  They can also be used indoors to – you guessed it – add a Victorian element.  Very often, these features add a lot of detailing to your design.  You can order these to specific dimensions – within 1/16th of an inch in some cases – to fit your existing porch space as well.  Like the railings, these pieces will typically be made of wood, due to the nature of how they are shaped.

Porch Enclosure Room

This screened porch is an example of how to create an 'extra' 3-seasons room in your home.

The enclosed room is one of the more popular ways of extending a patio or porch into more living space.  Depending on how it is enclosed, this type of room can be either a screened porch or you can use it in another way.  As we’ve discussed in our sunroom designs article, the use of glass is the primary difference between these two types.

photo credit

Using screening can help the space remain open, airy and breezy, while still keeping the insects out.  Since you’ll be enjoying your new porch in some of the prime ‘pest seasons’ it is nice to know you will not have to go inside when the sun starts to set.

Even though we focus most of patio design ideas around the backyard and structures like patio covers, we’re still just outdoor living enthusiasts at heart.  Any way that we can help you enjoy living outdoors, we’re all for it!  If you want to share your own personal front porch designs, use our contact form to send us a photo and description.  We’d love to take a look and possibly highlight your design here on our site.





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