Projects Front Porches — A Pictorial Essay

Front Porches — A Pictorial Essay

A front porch is your home’s face. It’s what everyone sees as they drive by. It greets your friends even before you do.

Let me ask a very personal question. Do you like your face — I mean your home’s face? Or does it need some make-up?

…Or a full make-over?

Perhaps just add some decoration with a little roof…

…Or build a full porch where you can truly relax….

Let me clarify what we are not talking about here. A front porch is not:

Merely an overhanging roof.

Or just a platform. That would be a stoop.

It does not wrap around your house.

Nor is it a side porch, or a back porch. A front porch must be out front.

A front porch is not enclosed with walls. That is an entry.

And I am excluding those gorgeous two-story porches on southern plantations, like Boone Hall outside Charleston – which you may have seen in the mini-series, “North and South.”
No, too big for my little blog.

Let’s focus instead on true Front Porches, in four categories.


Porticos dress up your front door, as if a simple stoop grew columns and a roof.

The roof shelters you from the rain or snow as you get out your key, or shelters your guests as they ring the door bell and await your greeting.

A portico can be simple….

Or elaborate…

Or famous….

There are massive porticos…

But let’s save massive for big institutions and get back to your home.

Your portico could have rails….

Or not….

It wants a ceiling, perhaps curved. And it certainly needs trim.

Carefully crafted trim.



A traditional front porch provides more space than a portico. Room for you to sit and read a book. Or just enjoy a morning cup…

More than decorating the door, a traditional porch enhances the front of your house.

It normally has a rail — if not for safety, then to enclose and define your porch space.

Traditional front porches are very popular on older homes…

…and on urban two family homes…

Whatever your setting, a traditional porch can transform your house….


A farmer’s porch extends across the front of the house. It normally is five or six feet out from the house, perhaps even seven feet — enough room for chairs and some walking space.

A farmer’s porch is a visor on a house’s face. It shades people sitting out front, but also cools the rooms inside. And it creates a temperature difference that invites a cooling breeze. Nice.

It can host the Fourth of July parade….

Or even host a couple of friends playing on America’s quintessential front porch…

Although farmer’s porches are popular in New England, they may have originated on hot Mid West farms. Or the Yankees may have stolen them from the south. (Oops, let’s not tread there.)

The style and trim and colors need to match the house, so the porch does not look “tacked on”, but instead look as if it’s always been there.


A Captain’s porch is a classic New England creation — born of the pride and wealth of successful sea captains. It makes a bold statement.

The Captain lives here.

A captain’s porch is dignified, formal, even stately.

But not so stuffy that you cannot enjoy life.

Note the proportion and the detail. They reflect professional design and craftsmanship.

Let me make some recommendations for your porch:

1) Your house’s face is too important to leave to chance. Have it designed professionally on a computer first…see it in three dimensions. Compare options and decide what you want before you buy.

2) Make sure the proportions are appropriate. Your porch should not be too large or too small for your house. And its features must be properly sized — the roof pitch, the gable end, the fascia, etc..

3) Details are critical…look-outs, the size of the soffit, the angle of the fascia, ceiling material and trim, column trim…each of these and all of these impact the finished results. The best design will extend the style of your house, make your porch look like it has always been part of your house. Enhance its beauty and add new functionality, and your porch will welcome guests and invite your neighbors.

4) Don’t let a general carpenter or a framer work on the front of your house. They’re thinking about nailing boards to the nearest quarter-inch. Instead, insist on a finish carpenter – he or she is focused on 1/16th of an inch details and will make precise trim cuts — details worthy of your home.

For more on porches, visit our overview of different types of porches.

At Archadeck of Suburban Boston, we offer professional design and build services for clients west and north of Boston. Over the past 23 years we have designed and built over 800 projects, including over 100 porches. We have enhanced the depth of our expertise by limiting our work to decks, porches, sunrooms, and patios. To view some of these projects or see our design and service awards, visit our website. To learn how we treat our clients, check our ratings on Angie’s List or read about us in an article in Remodeling magazine. For a free design consultation and a relaxed and rewarding experience, contact us via e-mail, [email protected] or by phone, 781-273-3500.

© 2014 Advantage Design & Constr., Inc.

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