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Porches Across America

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A spot to foster conviviality with passersby, a place to perch a chair and enjoy the outdoors, a threshold between inside and out, and an informal living room for neighborhoods—the porch is arguably one of the more important elements of a house. As Jane Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, "The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts...The absence of this trust is a disaster to a city street." Having this private public space serves communities just as much as residents. We pay homage to this architectural feature in the following slideshow.

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  Shawn Mosely's nontraditional Atlanta, Georgia, home includes a front wall that opens the living room onto the front yard—and to the rest of the neighborhood, which has enthusiastically welcomed the house and its owner. The house's dramatic eaves are reminiscent of the deep awnings and large front porches that have long been the perennial design solutions for escaping oppressive Southern summer heat.  Photo by: Mark Steinmetz
    Shawn Mosely's nontraditional Atlanta, Georgia, home includes a front wall that opens the living room onto the front yard—and to the rest of the neighborhood, which has enthusiastically welcomed the house and its owner. The house's dramatic eaves are reminiscent of the deep awnings and large front porches that have long been the perennial design solutions for escaping oppressive Southern summer heat.

    Photo by: Mark Steinmetz

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  Jeff Sherman sits in front of his Prospect Heights home—originally an illegal dog kennel—which he slowly renovated over the course of ten years. "I’ve seen a lot of really bad houses and apartments, because, you know, I’m an architect, but this one was so bad my business partner, when she came to help me measure it, had to keep running out to the sidewalk because her gag reflex kept kicking in. There was dog crap everywhere. The front porch was kind of dangling off the front facade and bits of the floor were missing. It was gross—no doubt about that," says Sherman. The front door is made from etched Lexan bulletproof glass.

See more of the home in this Dwell-produced video.  Photo by: Dustin Aksland
    Jeff Sherman sits in front of his Prospect Heights home—originally an illegal dog kennel—which he slowly renovated over the course of ten years. "I’ve seen a lot of really bad houses and apartments, because, you know, I’m an architect, but this one was so bad my business partner, when she came to help me measure it, had to keep running out to the sidewalk because her gag reflex kept kicking in. There was dog crap everywhere. The front porch was kind of dangling off the front facade and bits of the floor were missing. It was gross—no doubt about that," says Sherman. The front door is made from etched Lexan bulletproof glass. See more of the home in this Dwell-produced video.

    Photo by: Dustin Aksland

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  Geoff and Joanna Mouming wanted their house to blend modernist ideas with the agrarian Iowa landscape.  “We like wooden ceilings. We like red. We like modern architecture,” Geoff says. “But we wanted it to respect the context.” The The benches on their entry porch were built by Geoff using a design plan by Aldo Leopold, the pioneering Iowa-born conservationist and writer whose spirit and thoughts seem to preside over the house.  Photo by: Mark MahaneyCourtesy of: Mark Mahaney
    Geoff and Joanna Mouming wanted their house to blend modernist ideas with the agrarian Iowa landscape. “We like wooden ceilings. We like red. We like modern architecture,” Geoff says. “But we wanted it to respect the context.” The The benches on their entry porch were built by Geoff using a design plan by Aldo Leopold, the pioneering Iowa-born conservationist and writer whose spirit and thoughts seem to preside over the house.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

    Courtesy of: Mark Mahaney

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  Porches are a beloved element of the Southern vernacular and lifestyle, traditionally serving as an extension of the indoors—a shady place to gather, socialize, or share a meal. So when the students of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, entered the Solar Decathlon, a biennial energy-efficient residential design competition, the iconic space figured prominently in their concept. Here, a canopy of bifacial solar panels covers the porch and provides energy for the home.  Photo by: Jim TetroCourtesy of: ©Jim Tetro Photography
    Porches are a beloved element of the Southern vernacular and lifestyle, traditionally serving as an extension of the indoors—a shady place to gather, socialize, or share a meal. So when the students of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, entered the Solar Decathlon, a biennial energy-efficient residential design competition, the iconic space figured prominently in their concept. Here, a canopy of bifacial solar panels covers the porch and provides energy for the home.

    Photo by: Jim Tetro

    Courtesy of: ©Jim Tetro Photography

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  Prior to its renovation, this house in Newton, Massachusetts, had just a small screened-in porch as its only outside space, “unless you wanted to put plastic chairs on the front lawn, which some people did,” resident John Braver says, laughing. A generous roof deck atop the garage was a winning way to allow a survey of the neighborhood during Massachusetts’ Indian summers.  Photo by: Chang Kyun Kim
    Prior to its renovation, this house in Newton, Massachusetts, had just a small screened-in porch as its only outside space, “unless you wanted to put plastic chairs on the front lawn, which some people did,” resident John Braver says, laughing. A generous roof deck atop the garage was a winning way to allow a survey of the neighborhood during Massachusetts’ Indian summers.

    Photo by: Chang Kyun Kim

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  Porches, or at least porch-inspired spaces, abound at the Morelands’ Baton Rouge home. Architect Catovic Hughes’s modern take on the Southern vernacular is all about embracing the outdoors. Rick Moreland spends as much time on the patio as he can.  Photo by: João CanzianiCourtesy of: Joao Canziani
    Porches, or at least porch-inspired spaces, abound at the Morelands’ Baton Rouge home. Architect Catovic Hughes’s modern take on the Southern vernacular is all about embracing the outdoors. Rick Moreland spends as much time on the patio as he can.

    Photo by: João Canziani

    Courtesy of: Joao Canziani

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  As Dwell founder Lara Deam's house is situated on a steep slope, visitors enter only to be whisked upstairs to the main living space. The facade was designed by Bob Hatfield in 1996. A new glass and steel door, designed by Chris Deam and fabricated by Sand Studios, was added in a recent renovation.  Photo by: Dustin Aksland
    As Dwell founder Lara Deam's house is situated on a steep slope, visitors enter only to be whisked upstairs to the main living space. The facade was designed by Bob Hatfield in 1996. A new glass and steel door, designed by Chris Deam and fabricated by Sand Studios, was added in a recent renovation.

    Photo by: Dustin Aksland

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  Designers Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim revived an 1852 classic Charleston single—defined as a one-room-wide structure that hugs one side of a lot with a two-story piazza along the side and a front door that leads onto the open porch—into a breathable, low-key, and modern living space.  Photo by: Daniel Shea
    Designers Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim revived an 1852 classic Charleston single—defined as a one-room-wide structure that hugs one side of a lot with a two-story piazza along the side and a front door that leads onto the open porch—into a breathable, low-key, and modern living space.

    Photo by: Daniel Shea

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  From the back of their Madeline Island, Wisconsin, home, Bruce Golob and Jean Freeman take in views of Lake Superior. A screened-in porch provides a protected space for outdoor dining. The outdoor seating is by Kartell.  Photo by: Chad Holder
    From the back of their Madeline Island, Wisconsin, home, Bruce Golob and Jean Freeman take in views of Lake Superior. A screened-in porch provides a protected space for outdoor dining. The outdoor seating is by Kartell.

    Photo by: Chad Holder

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  The Floating Farmhouse’s semitransparent addition has a roofline that matches the pitch of the original 1820s farmhouse. A porch, tucked under the side eaves, is cantilevered over a stream that runs through the property. "A derelict structure inspires possibility where any rational soul would walk (if not run) away. For me, an ‘impossible’ project enables a more intuitive, process-based approach to architecture: remaining open to what the structure and the process reveal and evolving the design in real time,” says resident Tom Givone.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The Floating Farmhouse’s semitransparent addition has a roofline that matches the pitch of the original 1820s farmhouse. A porch, tucked under the side eaves, is cantilevered over a stream that runs through the property. "A derelict structure inspires possibility where any rational soul would walk (if not run) away. For me, an ‘impossible’ project enables a more intuitive, process-based approach to architecture: remaining open to what the structure and the process reveal and evolving the design in real time,” says resident Tom Givone.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Blake Dollahite’s bungalow sits on a tree-lined block in the north Austin neighborhood of Hyde Park. His remodel retained the old Texas feel of the exterior—including the back porch—with modern touches inside.  Photo by: Misty Keasler
    Blake Dollahite’s bungalow sits on a tree-lined block in the north Austin neighborhood of Hyde Park. His remodel retained the old Texas feel of the exterior—including the back porch—with modern touches inside.

    Photo by: Misty Keasler

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  Stephen Shoup, his wife, Taya, and daughter, Hannah, relax on the deck of their Oakland, California, home with their dog, Stella. “For a high percentage of the year, we just roll open the door, and everybody hangs out in the kitchen, where we can keep an eye on Hannah,” explains Shoup. “There’s kind of a leathery quality to it,” he says of the door, which he fabricated of steel, with glass salvaged from an old sliding door.
    Stephen Shoup, his wife, Taya, and daughter, Hannah, relax on the deck of their Oakland, California, home with their dog, Stella. “For a high percentage of the year, we just roll open the door, and everybody hangs out in the kitchen, where we can keep an eye on Hannah,” explains Shoup. “There’s kind of a leathery quality to it,” he says of the door, which he fabricated of steel, with glass salvaged from an old sliding door.

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