Porches are a unique feature of American architectural design with the heyday being from the 1880’s to middle 1920’s. Porches offered a space of transition between the outside world and the private inner world of the homeowner. In the days before air conditioning, television, radio and the automobile porches and decks were places to gather with friends and neighbors. During the 1950’s, technology began drawing people indoors to the living room and porches began disappearing from house plans. The trends are now swinging the other way as we try to re-capture the spirit of days gone by and escape from the ever busy world we now occupy with plenty of outside livings space on our decks and porches.
Historically, porches were at least 5’ wide and built with wooden bead-board ceilings and railings that matched the exterior trim detail of the home. In the South, the bead-board ceilings were often painted a light blue color which was thought to keep away bad spirits, spiders and wasps. While there is no proof that the color indeed repels bugs, it remains a very popular choice by clients as it reflects natural light beautifully.
When working with our clients the designers at Houses and Barns by John Libby discuss how to incorporate porches and decks into their home design. Some spaces are screened-in to offer more protection from weather and insects and other spaces are left open to the elements. Today’s vast array of composite building products and construction techniques provides the homeowner with many options for a well-designed porch or deck without the maintenance problems of the early wooden porches. While design possibilities are endless the lifestyle appeal of a porch or deck remains timeless.