A front porch is your home’s face.  It’s what everyone sees as they drive by.  It greets your friends even before you do.

Front Porch in Lincoln, MA

Let me ask a very personal question.  Do you like your face  —  I mean your home’s face?  Or does it need some make-up?

Before portico, Reading, MA


Front Entry, Reading, MA

With make-up

…Or a full make-over?

Sudbury Front Porch before


Sudbury Front Porch

That’s better

Perhaps just add some decoration with a little roof…

House before copper roof House with Copper Roof

…Or build a full porch where you can truly relax….

Porch interior light blue Porch interior green

Let me clarify what we are not talking about here.  A front porch is not:

  •   Small Roof over doorMerely an overhanging roof.
  •  Natick stoopOr just a platform.  That would be a stoop.
  •   Wrap-around-porchIt does not wrap around your house.
  • Side porch in Reading  Nor is it a side porch, or a back porch.  A front porch must be out front.
  •   Front Entry, Boxborough, MAA front porch is not enclosed with walls.  That is an entry.
  • Boone Hall, Charleston, SCAnd I am excluding those gorgeous two-story porches on southern plantations,  like Boone Hall outside Charleston – which you may have seen in the mini-series, “North and South.”
  •                        No, too big for my little blog.

Let’s focus instead on true Front Porches, in four categories.

  1. PORTICOS dress up your front door, as if a simple stoop grew columns and a roof.

The roof shelters you from the rain or snow as you get out your key, or shelters your guests as they ring the door bell and await your greeting.

A portico can be simple….

Simple Portico, Lexington, MA

Or elaborate…

Elaborate Portico

Or famous….

The White House

There are massive porticos…

Tweet Courthouse, NYC

But let’s save massive for big institutions and get back to your home.

Your portico could have rails….

Front Entry, Reading, MA

Or not….

Portico with no rails

 It wants a ceiling, perhaps curved.  And it certainly needs trim.

Portico trim  Carefully crafted trim.

  1. A TRADITIONAL FRONT PORCH provides more space than a portico.  Room for you to sit and read a book.  Or just enjoy a morning cup….

Relaxing on Front Porch

More than decorating the door, a traditional porch enhances the front of your house.

Suburban Boston front porch builders



It normally has a rail — if not for safety, then to enclose and define your porch space.

Maynard traditional front porch

Traditional front porches are very popular on older homes…

Traditional Front Porch, Belmont, MA

…and on urban two family homes…

Two Family Front Porch, Belmont, MA

Whatever your setting, a traditional porch can transform your house….

Front porch needs workPorch Upgraded, Westford MA

  1. A FARMER’S PORCH extends across the front of the house.  It normally is five or six feet out from the house, perhaps even seven feet — enough room for chairs and some walking space.

Farmers porch Front porch chairs

A farmer’s porch is a visor on a house’s face.  It shades people sitting out front, but also cools the rooms inside.   And it creates a temperature difference that invites a cooling breeze.  Nice.

Farmers porch with wood shingles

It can host the Fourth of July parade….

4th of July Parade


Or even host a couple of friends playing on America’s quintessential front porch…

James Taylor YoyoMa Red_Lion_Inn,_Stockbridge_MA titled

Although farmer’s porches are popular in New England, they may have originated on hot Mid West farms.  Or the Yankees may have stolen them from the south.  (Oops, let’s not tread there.)

The style and trim and colors need to match the house, so the porch does not look “tacked on”, but instead look as if it’s always been there.

Farmer's Porch, Methuen, MA Front view of Methuen porch

  1. A CAPTAIN’S PORCH is a classic New England creation — born of the pride and wealth of successful sea captains. It makes a bold statement.

Wide Captain's Porch, Winchester, MA

The Captain lives here.

A captain’s porch is dignified, formal, even stately.

But not so stuffy that you cannot enjoy life.

Captain's Porch, Winchester, MA

Note the proportion and the detail. They reflect professional design and craftsmanship.

Let me make some recommendations for your porch:

  1. Your house’s face is too important to leave to chance. Have it designed professionally on a computer first…see it in three dimensions.  Compare options and decide what you want before you buy.
  2. Make sure the proportions are appropriate.  Your porch should not be too large or too small for your house.   And its features must be properly sized — the roof pitch, the gable end, the fascia, etc..
  3. Details are critical…look-outs, the size of the soffit, the angle of the fascia, ceiling material and trim, column trim…each of these and all of these impact the finished results.  The best design will extend the style of your house, make your porch look like it has always been part of your house.   Enhance its beauty and add new functionality, and your porch will welcome guests and invite your neighbors.
  4. Don’t let a general carpenter or a framer work on the front of your house.  They’re thinking about nailing boards to the nearest quarter-inch.  Instead, insist on a finish carpenter – he or she is focused on 1/16th of an inch details and will make precise trim cuts — details worthy of your home.

For more on porches, visit our overview of different types of porches.

At Archadeck of Suburban Boston, we offer professional design and build services for clients west and north of Boston. Over the past 25 years we have designed and built over 950 projects, including over 240 porches. We have enhanced the depth of our expertise by limiting our work to decks, porches, sunrooms, and patios. To view some of these projects or see our design and service awards, visit our website. To learn how we treat our clients, check our ratings on Angie’s List or read about us in an article in Remodeling magazine. For a free design consultation and a relaxed and rewarding experience, contact us via e-mail, subboston@archadeck.net or by phone, 781-273-3500

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