Porch Planning: Things to Consider

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

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.

15 Charming Porches

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Rustic Porch

Rich wood textures and a cozy fireplace make this porch the ultimate mountain escape. For unique furniture finds look for local craftsman to create custom pieces. Photography by Beall+Thomas Photography

Photo By: Kreis Beall & Heather Anne Thomas; beall and thomas 8656816128

Entertaining Porch

Porches should connect your interior to the exterior with ease, and provide additional living space. This functional floor plan features a place to dine and a space to visit. Photo courtesy of Sunbrella

Photo By: Sunbrella

Seaside Porch

French doors with large window panes provide access while allowing natural light inside this home. Consider how you need the door to function when you come back from shopping. Photo courtesy of Anderson Windows and Doors

Photo By: Photo by Scott Dorrance (Buyout)

Screened Porch

Screens allow you to use your porch more often and make it better suited for more activities. You can save money and time and have a more attractive porch if you make design decisions for screens at the start of the project. Photo courtesy of On the Porch

Leisurely Porch

Railings play a key role in the overall look of your porch. Think about how you want to capture a view and research local building codes before you begin. Photo courtesy of On the Porch

Breezy Porch

Often used as both a decorative and functional feature, ceiling fans are popular additions to porches. This floor plan is open and airy, allowing a fan to circulate cool evening breezes. Photography by Beall+Thomas Photography

Photo By: Kreis Beall & Heather Anne Thomas

Screened Porch

A back porch can be a great place to enjoy water or nature views, or a protected spot to watch the kids play in the yard. When deciding on a location for your outdoor space, think about how you will use it. Photo courtesy of On the Porch

Tropical Porch

Posts and columns add to the beauty of your porch, but they are also the important vertical support that holds up your porch roof. Consider custom details that create interest around your porch posts.

Photo By: R. Michael Stuckey

Classic Front Porch

The most traditional kind of porch, the front porch is popular with homeowners who want to keep up with the neighborhood or create a welcoming entry for guests. Plan your porch to blend with your home's design, not take away from it.

Eclectic Porch

Don't be afraid to mix different types of porch furniture and accessories. Soft curtains, wicker furniture and a rich wooden coffee table come together in lavish harmony. Use durable mildew-resistant outdoor materials for linens and pillows. Photo courtesy of Sunbrella

Photo By: Steve Exum

Mountain Porch Retreat

Define a porch seating area with outdoor area rugs and if you have the space, arrange some seats facing toward your house. This outdoor space mixes patterns and colors to create a cozy porch for conversation. Photo courtesy of Sunbrella

Photo By: Sunbrella

Cottage Porch

Green is the defining color on this porch. Using the same hue throughout is a great way to create a cohesive look.

Trendy Porch

Drapery panels make it easy to control the amount of sun on your porch. Sunbrella designs these sleek fabric additions that make a stylish statement on any porch.

Photo By: Sunbrella

Southern Porch

Wooden rocking chairs and a porch swing make this outdoor space the ideal antebellum retreat. Create a porch that's eye candy by mixing and matching paint colors. Photo courtesy of On the Porch

Laguna Porch

Comfort is key when executing your floor plan. Make your porch feel as inviting as your spaces inside by incorporating weather-resistant fabrics and comfortable seating.

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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