Affordable Curb Appeal Part 3: Front Porches
Note: Like many of you, I’m now working remotely from my home in the Denver area. I feel fortunate that the housing industry has remained a top priority throughout this crisis. Although we all have more important matters to deal with in the short term, I’ve decided to continue my blog series in hopes that my discussion might spark some new ideas, get you thinking about the future, or just serve as a welcome distraction.
Authentic architectural style with great window and door design just about guarantees great curb appeal. But to take it to the next level, create designs that allow you to include front porches. This American iconic design element elicits nostalgic visions of porch swings, inviting friendly conversations with neighbors on cool summer nights. Buyers can’t help but want to look inside.
A few design tips will make sure your front porches will have the most effective impact on curb appeal within the production-built environment.
Garage orientation is an important consideration for porch design. In Denver, we do a lot of narrow rear-load product, so the whole front is a blank canvas. But porches can get expensive, especially in the square footage ranges typically needed to make small-lot product pencil out.
To give a narrow plan more interest, I often design a recessed entry on the main floor. Integrating an inviting front porch is achieved without sacrificing too much square footage. Even a very small welcoming porch placed in the front corner can greatly enhance the entry sequence.
For front-load designs, the front porch can enhance the streetscape and make garage-forward homes look terrific. Pushing the front porch forward of the garage improves the look from the street, placing focus on the front door. But the plan will still capture the construction efficiencies that a forward garage provides.
Frame the Entry
The porch is really a picture frame for your front door. Designs should help buyers see the entry first then help them feel great on their way inside. Pay attention to column placement to make sure the front door is centered and any windows are logically framed, too.
Even if the porch perfectly frames the entry, buyers will instantly know if their favorite Adirondack chair won’t fit. It’s important to think of the front porch as an outdoor room. Porch depth is sometimes reduced to cut costs, but avoid the temptation to shrink porch depths so much that they become unlivable.
Spotlight your Style
Architectural style should guide your decision to include a porch. Some styles are known for their iconic front porches, so if you’re building Ranches, Craftsmans and Farmhouses, you’ll be wise to include a porch. But for these styles, detail matters. Even at the lowest price points, a 4x4 post won’t cut it. Invest a bit in stylistic columns, brackets and details to make sure your porch enhances the style you’ve chosen.
Now that I’ve covered the three main elements of elevation design that I believe can have the greatest impact on curb appeal, my last installment will look at materials and colors. These finishing touches will make sure the design work you put into the elevation comes to life for your buyers.
P.S. We feel so strongly about porches, we even included one in the design for this 384 sq. ft. transitional housing project in Des Moines.