Does the word porch make you think of a summer evening, sitting in a comfortable chair and watching the world go by as you sip a tall, cool beverage? While houses have become more oriented to the back rather than the front yard, porches have never completely gone out of style. Like any outdoor room, a porch is a continuation of one's living space, whether it's extended in front as a welcoming refuge, in the back as a screened-in or covered way to experience the outdoors, or wrapping around the house, for an easy outdoor escape from any door.
If designing a new porch, consult an architect and licensed contractor to ensure it is designed correctly. Unlike a patio or deck, a porch is an appendage of extension of a house, and an architect knows her or his way through the design and structural issues that will be encountered.
Types of Porches
It's not a patio or a deck—it's a porch. Know what type it is before building, designing, or decorating:
- Open porch: This is the type most often associated with front porches, often with wide steps leading to the porch
- Wraparound: Often seen on older homes, these porches start at the entry and literally wrap around at least one corner and side of the house; sometimes two.
- Screened porch: Popular in regions with four seasons and lots of insects (like mosquitoes) in the summer, these porches give you that fresh-air experience, even in the rain.
- Covered porch: A variation on the screened-in style, these porches are often like sunrooms, with lots of windows that open to let in the fresh air.
Ready to find the porch of your dreams? Take a tour of some beautiful types and designs.
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St. Paul Porch
Architect Jeremiah Battles of Acacia Architects designed a new old-style home in St. Paul, Minnesota, with modernized vintage touches, like a Tudor fireplace surround and beveled glass windows and doors. It's also designed to accommodate the owner's mobility needs and includes an elevator with quarter-sawn oak paneling. The porch has access to an upper-story deck and that sliding snack bar-style window allows easy pass-through of whatever is cooking from the kitchen.Continue to 3 of 43 below.
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The porch steps of an old-fashioned home in Orange County, California, are softened and adorned on each level and at each side with pots of flowers in purples, whites, and blues. Plants in a high-profile area like a porch should be watered often and well maintained to improve your home's curb appeal.Continue to 4 of 43 below.
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There's an LBJ connection with this Austin front porch from Merzbau Design Collection. No, President Lyndon B. Johnson didn't sit for a spell and chew the fat with his cronies after retirement from the White House. But that travertine is from the nearby LBJ Library after it underwent a remodel. Columns and beams are made of Douglas fir, and custom steel brackets support painted rafters and a blue tongue-and-groove wood porch roof.Continue to 5 of 43 below.
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Coastal Queen Anne
A Queen Anne-style house in the charming coastal city of Santa Barbara was built in the 1910s—which is considered old by Southern California standards. With the help of an architectural historian, Thompson Naylor Architects updated and refurbished the house carefully to maintain its historical character and integrity. The only noticeable exterior changes are two dormers and a new attached garage in a sympathetic style. The porch's more ornamental details are painted in blue.Continue to 6 of 43 below.
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Architect John Cole's clients, a busy professional couple, requested a serene vacation home overlooking Pleasant Lake in Maine. Cole came up with an all-new old-barn look, with a flared gambrel roof, cupola, and reclaimed oak posts and beams. An enclosed porch uses a railing with "windows" and a roof for a protected outdoor experience.Continue to 7 of 43 below.
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New Orleans' Algiers Point includes neat Victorian houses and porches decorated with, well, whatever the owner pleases. And why not? This one has fresh paint and trim, wooden shutters, and clever touches like saucers that bear the address displayed on a porch post. The fleur de lis, wreaths, and potted plants add to its appeal.Continue to 8 of 43 below.
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Old Virginia Porch
A blue house in Virginia is made more inviting by that refurbished vintage high-backed white chair and settee and coordinating cushions. New just wouldn't do.Continue to 9 of 43 below.
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Relaxed in Beverly Hills
A family's long, frustrating search for the perfect new home ended up with them staying put in their 1960s-built house. The house was torn down and in its place, Tim Barber Ltd Architecture and D.C. Williamson General Contracting gave them their dream home: a shingle-style home with a porch, terrace, custom millwork, leaded glass doors, and many other custom features. The porch features wood flooring and ashlar. The landscape design was provided by Wade Graham Landscape Studio, LLC.Continue to 10 of 43 below.
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A covered lanai-style side porch offers views usually reserved for once-in-a-lifetime vacations. Imagine enjoying Mai Tais while taking in a changing sunset and silhouettes of palm trees every day, as the owner of this beautiful home designed by Michael Wolk Design Associates can. Since it is screened-in, high-end modern furniture like the Saarinen dining set and Aalto bentwood chair are safe from the elements.Continue to 11 of 43 below.
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Another project from Michael Wolk Design Associates, this modern single-family home in Miami is sophisticated but comfortable, as evidenced by this upper-story porch-terrace that's a private place to lounge in the sun, enjoy a view of treetops, and soft breezes. The patio furniture is urban modern with a concrete coffee table.Continue to 12 of 43 below.
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A two-story midcentury modern house designed by architect George Bissell in the early 1960s features a second-floor porch or balcony that spans the entire length of the house and extends the living space. The porch of the Laguna Beach area home is accessed via sliding glass doors.Continue to 13 of 43 below.
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Traditional in Chicago
This traditional Chicago-area home from Siena Custom Builders features a gable entry, flat roof, half columns, and stone pedestals or bases.Continue to 14 of 43 below.
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Ohio Screened Porch
The owners of this home in Clintonville, Ohio, desired a traditional screened porch that fit the architectural scale and detail of their home. The remodel, by The Cleary Company, took two months, during which the old brick porch, pergola, and stairs were removed. In its place: a fun porch with eclectic details that reflect the homeowners' artistic style, constructed of composite materials for decking, trim, and railings for easy maintenance and built to last. The project developer was Robert Raskin and the project designer was Cathryn Brassfield.Continue to 15 of 43 below.
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A two-story houseboat in the enviable town of Sausalito, just north of San Francisco, is decorated in coastal whites with touches of blue. Nest Design Co. carried out that fresh seaside charm to the porch, with light-blue walls, white trim, a Scandinavian-style dining set, and square planters filled with succulents.Continue to 16 of 43 below.
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Located on the West River in Annapolis, Maryland, this home was rebuilt by Nugent Design Build after the original structure was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The homeowners had lived in the house since 1953 and wanted to keep the timeless, old-home feel of their original home. Purple Cherry Architects gave them an updated version, which includes this circular porch that offers breathtaking views of the river.Continue to 18 of 43 below.
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"The overall goal of any “addition” to a home is to make it appear as if it has always been there, even if it’s on the back of the home," says designer Katie Petruzzo of Harth Builders. All-new trim, roof shingles, and other features were matched with this existing home. Decking is TimberTech, which should be easier to maintain and last longer than real wood in the Pennsylvania climate.
"Our clients wanted to enjoy their new covered porch as much as possible during the warmer months, which is why we installed a ceiling fan," says Petruzzo. "Exterior ceiling fans are great for keeping the pesky bugs away. We also designed stairs on either side of the cabana for easy access to any part of the yard. This is now a great outdoor space for entertaining family and friends."Continue to 19 of 43 below.
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The small state of Delaware might not seem like a beach country, but it's possible to own a nice custom-built coastal home in a charming small town for a lower cost than its Eastern neighbors. This expansive home by The Lewes Building Co. features a wraparound porch with columns, arches, and plenty of room to sit and enjoy the view.Continue to 20 of 43 below.
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Traditional Shingle Style
While the homeowners desired a new home, they wanted it to look like it was built during the same period as the older Palo Alto homes in California's Silicon Valley. Fergus Garber Young Architects designed a shingle-style home in which a portion of the second-story roof extends down to create a large front porch, which is a prominent feature of shingle-style architecture. The hanging lanterns are by Cape Cod and Cabot solid stain in Mountain Brush was used on the wood shingles and teardrop horizontal siding.Continue to 21 of 43 below.
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Located in a historic Atlanta neighborhood, this 1910 bungalow has been completely restored. Historical Concepts reconfigured the original floorplan to make the most of the home’s 1,200 square feet, updating the home for modern living while remaining true to its historic architectural character. Crown molding was custom milled to match the original woodwork and ladder doors were salvaged from nearby houses of the same era. Once dark and dated, the restored home has an air of authenticity, incorporating the best of what is new while reclaiming and enhancing the charm of the past. The front door is original—fresh paint lightens it up and makes the porch an inviting outdoor space.Continue to 22 of 43 below.
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The porch of this spectacular 1865 home in Mt. Kisco, New York, was restored by Sunrise Building & Remodeling, Inc. to bring it back to its former glory. The style is gingerbread, which is often used interchangeably with Victorian or to describe an extremely detailed type of Victorian that features swags, perforations, brackets, and teardrops that give a building a highly ornamental look.Continue to 23 of 43 below.
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A house in Cape May, New Jersey, gets decked out for every patriotic holiday with freshly painted trim, red exterior, and the U.S. flag.Continue to 25 of 43 below.
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This house near Vancouver, British Columbia, is a popular filming location and has been seen in the television series Millenium and The X-Files. Note the rounded wraparound porch and roofline, which also echoes the curve of the porch and is an unusual feature for both a roof and porch.Continue to 26 of 43 below.
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A low-level flagstone front porch designed by Melville Thomas Architects, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland, features columns that support subtle arches on the sides and front of the house.Continue to 27 of 43 below.
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The goals of Small Carpenters at Large in renovating this 1950s ranch-style house were to enlarge and update the kitchen, add more bedroom and bath space, design a more comfortable living space on the first floor, and change the character of the home both inside and out.
In designing the second story, and adding a covered front porch and screened back porch, the home's roofline changed drastically, and the horizontal orientation of the ranch was completely changed. Now the home has style and character that the homeowner feels it once lacked while giving them more of what they wanted in a home without having to relocate.Continue to 28 of 43 below.
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The neighborhood of Shaughnessy, in Vancouver, B.C., consists of many large historical homes, including this Craftsman. Renovated by Feature Project Limited and architect Loy Leyland, the home is painted in purples with off-white trim and features a wraparound covered porch supported by tapered columns.Continue to 30 of 43 below.
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Victorian by the Bay
A custom-designed Victorian-style home designed by architect James Keller and built by Stokkers & Co. offers views of New York's Huntington Bay and the Long Island Sound. The home's exterior features a multi-gabled roof and a large tower positioned above an expansive porch that wraps around most of the house.Continue to 34 of 43 below.
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Ideally, a front porch should accommodate several people, like this outdoor room from Georgia Front Porch. Seating space is important, as is having enough space to comfortably walk around the furnishings and each other. A smart guideline for a deck is to have a minimum depth of 6 feet, though 8 to 10 is preferred and double the swing of a 36-inch-wide entry door.Continue to 35 of 43 below.
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Carolina Jessamine Cottage
A screened-in porch designed by Our Town Plans looks like an updated version of your grandparents' home, with the addition of festive, year-round string lights.Continue to 38 of 43 below.
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Billinkoff Architecture's luxurious enclosed back porch features large wood-framed windows and modern furnishings.Continue to 39 of 43 below.
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Long Island Victorian
A symbol of survival, this 1895 Queen Anne Victorian features a detailed front porch that was restored by Ashbourne Designs in 2005 and again in 2011 when it was destroyed by a fallen tree.Continue to 42 of 43 below.
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Porch in the Woods
Kennebunk River Architects, Maguire Construction, Black Bear Woodworking & Fine Cabinetry built a back porch that provides floor-to-ceiling views of the surrounding woods in Portland, Maine.