Porch Planning: Things to Consider

Before planning your porch project, eliminate a lot of headache by asking yourself questions.
Traditional Porch With White Railings and Columns

Traditional White Porch With Outdoor Furniture

Photo courtesy of Sunbrella

Photo by: Sunbrella


Photo courtesy of Sunbrella
By: Jeannie Matteucci

Determine your goals for your porch project. Consider everything from how you want the porch to look to how you plan to use the space. You want to maximize the use of your porch and make sure the location works with the rest of your property. Ask yourself these five key questions as you plan the porch of your dreams.

How do you want to use the porch?

The answer to this question helps determine how deep and long your porch should be. A porch with a small cafe table and two chairs has different size requirements than a porch made for dining and entertaining. You need to include room for circulation; think of a porch as a small-scale house with a foundation, roof and walls.

When do you want to use your porch?

Depending on your region and climate, you may want to include details that will make your porch usable three or four seasons out of the year. A fireplace, a ceiling fan, screens to keep out bugs and insulation in the ceiling are just a few of the options to consider.

Is your porch user-friendly?

Consider the best entry to and from your porch into your home, to make the space easily accessible and encourage good traffic flow. Large patio or French doors can offer easy access to side and back porches and be a good source of natural light for your home.

Do you want a porch made for entertaining?

If you have the room, make your porch a destination for guests by creating separate sitting and dining areas. A sitting area with all-weather furniture and an indoor/outdoor rug gives visitors a spot to enjoy cocktails and conversation. Make a separate dining area inviting by including a table and chairs with comfortable outdoor pillows and cushions.

Do you know how you want your porch to look?

The best porches are designed with scale and proportion in mind. For inspiration, explore the Internet, cut pages out of magazines and even look around your own area. If you find a porch that really inspires you, consider knocking on the door and asking the owner for specifics on the design and materials used. You may even make a new friend in the neighborhood!

Once you have a good idea as to how you plan to use the porch, make a rough drawing with a basic floor plan. This can help you explain your ideas to a design professional. Note all existing windows, doors and obstructions. You can even trace a photo of your home and add the details you would like to see on your porch.

Putting your thoughts on paper can even help you spot potential trouble spots — or inspire you to think about details you never considered.

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