Have you ever driven by a home that really caught your eye? The one with the welcoming front porch? Perhaps it was the lines of a house or the placement of an unusual window. While driving through neighborhoods built in the last century, you’ll also notice the many shapes and sizes of front or side porches. These lovely outdoor covered spaces gave the dwellers a place to relax at the end of the day – converse with their neighbors or even just watch the children at play. Some front porches are screened in while others created a more formal entrance. Some wrapped around the house on two or three sides. No matter which part of the country you lived, porches were very common and used – a lot.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the word ‘porch’ began to represent its present meaning. This meaning, in its American sense, generally refers to a “roofed, but incompletely walled living area contiguously attached to the frame of a house.” (McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses: Alfred Knopf, 1996)
Today we are seeing a resurgence of covered entrances in various styles – some of which offer no protection from the weather or sun. But they definitely add interest to he home’s architectural style. These elaborate coverings are created using timber framing. Some are very ornate and feature complex joinery with curves or just overly large timbers. These entrances give you a hint of what’s to come once you walk through the front door which presents anticipation and curiosity.
Here at Homestead Timber Frames we encourage outdoor living spaces within your home design no matter where you live. We try to match your lifestyle within the walls of your home while allowing you to experience getting into a chair outside easily. A few steps from the kitchen we see screened in porches for enjoying meals or quiet reading spaces. So many of our clients take pleasure in having their morning coffee on a porch just off the bedroom or kitchen. And when winter hits, they can just watch the snow falling and smell that brisk air – all under a covered roof.
We notice people yearn for the older ways of living that include rocking chairs along the front porch to ‘sit and visit a spell’. Many mention the need for a place to hang porch swings or day beds! These spaces require a minimum of 8’ if you want to walk in front of someone while they’re seated . One of the most rewarding things about sitting on a porch is enjoying a summer rain or listening to the night time insects.
Another popular request is for a large timber frame ‘gathering place’ at the end of the house . It may includes a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen. This space is usually 16’ x 14’ or larger depending on how many people you usually entertain. A gathering place works perfectly off the Great Room. This allows you to open up large doors to combine the two spaces. The fireplace could also be a double sided allowing the interior space to have a focal point as well.
Timber Frame porches can consist of simple or very complex ‘bent’ styles. The three most common truss choices are King Post, Queen Post or Hammer Beam variations. The size of timbers used in a simple design can add to the ‘wow’ factor you are looking for. They will also allow you to appreciate the warmth of the wood timbers and the traditional joinery used to connect them.
Timber frame porches may be added to an existing home also. This allows space for those who want to expand their living space to enjoy the outdoors. Large porches often feature timber frame alcoves for the kitchen area and wings for the dining area. Or you can create a more intimate atmosphere with lowered eaves in a smaller size. When adding a timber frame structure to your existing home we pay attention to the style of your home while matching roof pitches and proportions. As always, your budget will dictate the overall expanse of the project.
Projects involving a timber frame porch addition will require a general contractor. They will be responsible for preparing your footings/foundation and installing the roof. The Preliminary Design phase should involve your Contractor. At the end of the preliminary design phase you will approve the plans and enter into a production agreement. It is at this time that you will receive a full set of Construction Drawings will that you can share with your contractor.
A welcoming front porch creates a sense of so many things in a home . They can represent pride and style. They also provide covering from the weather, and a space for the person entering your home to have a moment before the door is opened. Strong, big timbers provide a sense of security and strength to your home. Natural materials give the impression of wholesomeness.
The creative aspects are limitless in developing a ‘one of a kind’ heavy timbered front entrance. It should be designed just for your home and fit your personal style. Let us help you create the welcoming front porch that best fits you.