Blah Front Porch
BrianJanuary 11, 2014
I moved into my home last year, and I'm very happy with it. It is a post-WWII rancher, built in 1947, and part of an old neighborhood in town. It has a lot of old touches, like a built-in china cabinet and a sweet little telephone cubby in the hallway. The house is great, but my very first impression of the front porch has not changed over the past year. There was, at one point, a white metal roof (similar to the awnings over the windows on the side of the house) supported by metal posts. I have been told that is was so ugly that previous owners took it down, and it was a huge improvement over the empty slab of concrete left in its absence. It just looks so BLANK and is not functional at all. I am open to ANY ideas. I would consider extending the roof over the porch, building a trellis, or any other ideas you guys can come up with. I want to keep the appearance of my home consistent with the rest of the older neighborhood, so nothing super modern or contemporary, please. Also, I'm a high school math teacher living on a less-than stellar budget, so no Faberge eggs or dinosaur bones involved in your plans!

Also, please disregard the sad landscaping. This picture was taken in the middle of winter. :)
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grobby
How about staining the concrete or having stone laid over the porch, something with dark shades to go with your brick. You do have a pretty home.
    Bookmark   Thanked by Brian    January 11, 2014 at 4:58PM
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Brian
I hadn't considered either of those options, so that gives me something to research. That still doesn't solve the problem of the empty space, but I'm intrigued with the idea of changing the appearance of the concrete slab. Thanks for the idea, grobby!
    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 5:14PM
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sstarr93
Here is a pergola to give interest and a bit of privacy to your porch area. S*
5 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Brian    January 11, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Brian
That's cool! I could always add a few hanging plants, and there would be some added privacy. That's been an issue. I never sit out there because I feel that without some sort of wall or columns that it's a big stage and I'm the star of the show! The pergola would also probably be much cheaper than adding onto the roof of the house.

Sstarr, do you have ideas about the color of the wooden components of the pergola? I have extra brick that matches my house that could be used for the base of the columns. The trim around my house is a khaki color, much like what you used in the picture. Could the lattice part be black?
1 Like    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 5:47PM
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sstarr93
Generally, the wooden portion would be either white, or painted to match your house's trim. The top lattice could be black, but more often would be the same color as the rest of the wood. Here's the look with brick bases for the columns:
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Brian    January 11, 2014 at 6:19PM
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Brian
Thank you so much for your help and for the great visual aid. I appreciate it, Sstarr!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:40PM
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sstarr93
If DMH is around, perhaps he could also have a look at this one?
    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 12:45PM
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victorianbungalowranch
The tapered columns would be more appropriate for an older house. Houses of your period tended to use plain metal, wood posts or slender Tuscan columns. Cottagey styles were popular and would go sort-of minimal Cape Cod/Tudoresque styling of your house. The span is pretty long and you don't want a pier right in front of the door, so I would use three columns and perhaps a bit of openwork lattice for a bit of privacy. I would make it myself rather than use the commercial stuff, which is flat and too dense.

I would also remove the single shutter on the corner windows. Your chimney seems very low--is that to code? I also think your landscaping could use some shrubbery and variation in height, and an ornamental tree in the front yard could be nice.

One difficulty with the pergola is that you have nothing to anchor it to and not a whole lot of headroom. Unfortunately, the only option for a porch is something like the metal canopy that was taken down, so a pergola is your best option. Or maybe just a nice heavy railing around the slab would be enough and avoid some of the construction challenges, especially if you can work in the matching brick.

Brick edging to the front walkway and the driveway could help unify things a bit.

I'm attaching a few pictures of the sort of posts that are appropriate for a 1948 house, and a similar house with another gable over the doorway.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Brian    January 12, 2014 at 1:36PM
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Brian
Wow! How thorough! I appreciate the attention to keeping with the time period, victorianbungalowranch. Yes, the chimney is too low, but the fireplace inside is not functional, so no problems there. I've considered a gable over the doorway, which I think would be a practical change -- I've had many friends come over, only to stand in the rain while waiting on me to answer the door. The tan-colored house is charming. I have also hated that single-shuttered window. It's coming down, regardless of what I decide to do.

I also really like the idea about a heavy iron railing, maybe with brick worked in, as you suggested. My father recommended that the very first time he saw the house. If I had brick posts connected with iron railings, is that what you had in mind? I could maybe even get lights at the top of the posts and some antique metal chairs. Imagine the attached image, but about waist-height.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 2:30PM
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sstarr93
Victorianbungalowranch, I agree, and the columns I put on are clearly Craftsman. I have designed numerous pergolas, and many (actually most) have round columns. Some have latticework on at least one side for privacy. This was the first one in my files that I could easily grab and fit to the photo.
Given the amount of payment happening on any of these posts, I thought it was an adequate effort. My goal is to be helpful. Thanks, S*
    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 2:59PM
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victorianbungalowranch
Sure, I understand. That is one reason I don't do many renderings anymore. :)

Brian, I think a flat top on the railing would be better than fence pickets--if you go with pickets, keep as simple as possible. The brick posts would add solidity, and would look nice (and hold up longer) with beveled concrete caps--as long as they are constructed with adequate footings (on top of slab probably not enough). A wood or composite railing could be used as well and would be visually more substantial. If desired, you could make the posts chunky enough to support a pergola if you would want to add one later.

I agree with an earlier post that covering or dying the raw concrete slab would be a big improvement too. Nearly every exposed slab I have ever seen covered with tile or flagstone ended up cracking, so I would stick with the dye, which eliminates any difficulty with door clearance as well.

A new awning similar to the ones on the side would be a possibility for the front entrance and would be the most economical solution. The spacing and angles are tight to build a canopy over the entrance. It will cover up the adjoining window a bit, but would be period. http://www.generalawnings.com/door-awnings-c-80 A canvas awning with spear supports might be nice, especially if you also change the ones on the sides.

It will be ornamental, but adding chimney pots or caps would add needed height to the chimney. And it was quite common to have a decorative "S" metal tie (as you can see on the photo of the grey house) or the family initial in script on the chimney. House numbers set on a diagonal can look nice as well.

I suppose it is something you wouldn't want to touch, but the fascia isn't quite right. Period would be white, the tan is OK, but the exaggerated "eave return" on the gable is way too clunky, and would have been terminated flush with the wall or just slightly over, or just allowed to extend parallel to the roofline, rather than projecting over and being so dominant. Note examples above.

If you really wanted to go to town, I would raise the gable and create a false vertical timbering effect with stucco and trim and swoop it down to create a canopy over the door, possibly extending it over the slab with a pergola, or finishing the slab with a decorative stone or brick wall. Then I add the decorative chimney pots. Of course landscaping, potted plants, and furniture would finish it off. Some period type examples are attached.

Moving the bench over now would be a help.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:35AM
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Grown Solutions
This is a good way to display hanging plants
    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:46PM
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Homestead Timber Frames
Have you considered a timber frame front porch? please take a look at our work! www.homesteadtimberframes.com
    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:53PM
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