In Praise of the Front Porch

by Jeanette Harrison – Sullivan

Resident at The Cottages at Ocean Isle Beach

If you enjoy sitting on your porch while you sip a favorite
beverage or read the newspaper or simply chat with
family and friends as you watch the daily parade of
pedestrians, dog walkers and sightseers driving past to
check out the cottage designs, you may not know it but
you are part of a growing American trend that is shifting
residents from the back yard to the front porch.
According to recent research from the National
Associates of Home Builders (NAHB), a front porch ranks
high on the average customer’s wish list.
It wasn’t always that way. Research shows that around
the time of World War II, the American front porch
became a relic of the past. As cars grew more popular
and streets grew busier, privacy diminished on front
porches. The invention of the air conditioner also made it
possible to stay inside and still keep cool. And many
suburban families began to choose the backyard
barbeque as the preferred outdoor recreational spot. A
House and Garden reader, in 1924 wrote that “our back
yard allows us to draw away from the confusion and
bustle, read our favorite books and think our happier
thoughts.”
Almost a century later, however, front, back and
wraparound porches are now making a big comeback.
Two-thirds of new homes built in 2011 had a porch,
according to a construction census survey featured
recently in USA Today, documenting a steady trend that
has been on the rise for almost a decade. Who wants
them? Porches appeal to Baby Boomers as they become
empty-nesters and seek smaller spaces and less property
to take care of. Millennials, sensitive to saving money as
well as the environment, find that porches offer more for
less. “You sit on the porch and talk to people walking by.
It’s outdoor space without taking up too much space.” In
addition to extended living space, homeowners value
the added curb appeal that a front porch brings to a
home,” say many architects and realtors. “It creates a
personality for their home and can increase resale value.”
“There is a definite resurgence in porches in today’s
home designs,” said Stephen L. Schoch, AIA. “People
may have busy lives, but they love the slowdown feeling
that a porch brings to their home. We’ve seen a strong
increase during the past decade in homeowners
requesting all types of outdoor living extensions.”
So, kick back, sip slowly, and breathe in the gentle tang
of the salty breeze as you relish The Salt Life. What
better way to ring in the summer season than from prime
seating on your own…….front porch!