I’ve been wanting to write a post about covered back porches for some time now.  Ever since the weather has turned, I enjoy every moment that I get out on ours.  We are very fortunate in that, even though we live in a subdivision, we have a very secluded lot.  Our home is flanked on the left by a fairway with a beautiful stretch of an established garden separating it from the side lawn.  The rear and right are heavily forested with a wooden trestle bridge in the back to carry the golf carts over to the next tee box.  I especially enjoy my evenings out there when a soft rain is falling in the background as it was last night when I started this post.  My porch, itself, is fairly basic.  Pressure treated materials stained light gray, typical painted handrail system, simple coffered ceiling with beadboard panels on the flat sections and a basic gabled roof tied back into the main structure. While I love the surroundings, the porch is a little lackluster.  That’s when it dawned on me.  The porches I gravitate to have little to do with the structure and a lot to do with how they are detailed and outfitted.  After all, anyone can build a porch, right?  Pretty basic stuff that most do-it-yourselfers could knock out.   But a porch with character, that’s an entirely different matter.  The distinction comes in the application of the elements.  And this is where a well thought out, beautiful design can allow your porch to depart from the rest.  As you have probably come to expect from this site, I love to spotlight where exceptional design separates everyday construction projects from the truly magnificent features of a Well Composed Home.

From the Portfolio of Jackye Lanham Designs

 This porch has a fairly basic design, yet, there are a couple distinguishing details that help it to stand out.  First, I love that we have a true beveled siding on the exterior of the home.  Such an authentic touch as compared to some of the modern materials incorporated today.  Next, great job with the closed shutters in the backdrop.  Unexpected but highly stylistic.  Well done.  And finally, the crowning jewel are those beautiful hanging lanterns.  This is a well thought out design carried all the way through.

From the Portfolio of Frank G. Neely Design Associates

 In this Frank Neely one, they have used a tongue and groove brazilian hardwood flooring with a rich stain and a wrought iron railing system to convey its elegance.  Classic porch and one that is perfect for entertaining neighbors.

Photography by Beacham & Company Realtors

 Here, Let’s get funky – McAlpine Tankersley style.  Their designs are always so strong and confident.  That is why I love their work so much.  While some of their applications will cut against conventional wisdom, they always come together as entire compositions.  Take for example, the height of the light at the entry door.  Even though those doors are massive, the fixture is hung much lower than normal.  To me,  this makes the whole space just a little bit more fun.  I also love the proportion of the column to the arch.  Most column details are going to top-out above normal head height.  Not here. The columns are lower than normal and the arch is greatly exaggerated.  In most situations, I would have said no way, but, one should never question these guys because it always works when viewed as a whole. 

From the Portfolio of Castro Design Studio

 Here Castro Design Studio has created a truly warm and inviting space.  Quiet solitude certainly comes to mind.  I love how they have mixed old and new materials as well as clean and rustic lines.  My favorite detail is how the slab, that is used for the floor of the firebox, is carried forward as the floating hearth and supported from below by two heavy brackets.  Very cool.

From the Portfolio of Castro Design Studio

 And here is another one from Rodolfo Castro.

From the Portfolio of Castro Design Studio

 I think he placed as much attention into the formation of this space as he would have with the layout of an interior living room.

From the Portfolio of Castro Design Studio

 Now this is just awesome.  So many things to talk about here.  Notice the oversized double hung window to the right.  This immediately adds to the drama.  Then we have the column details.  Architecturally speaking, I think that there should always be a half column attached to the wall, yet, this is rarely incorporated.  Budget reasons – I suppose.  How about the shutter panels that are on a pivot.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before, but, I love it.  Talk about a conversation piece.  And then, let’s not miss the skylights either.  They are perfectly sized and add an additional layer of interest to the room.

From the Portfolio of Castro Design Studio

 A couple other points to make before I leave.  I think that it is wonderful that they specified a stone lintel for the fireplace.  This one element speaks volumes to the level of craftsmanship and the genuine authenticity of the masonry work.  The hollowed out log bin is also very cool.  And, if you look back at the elevation of the porch again, you’ll notice a similar decorative stone arch repeated there.  Finally, the use of exterior accessories definitely completes the space.  This guy can design a porch for me any day of the week. 

So, it is not that my porch is by any means ugly, it’s just ordinary / suitable.  It is clear to me though that it lacks Heart and who wants that?

Time for me to get busy and correct it.

Take Care,


3 Comments on “Character Is Always The Differentiater

    • No problem Rodolfo,

      That last porch is truly spectacular. I love how you put so much thought and attention into the finer details of the design and that you commited this same level of attention to the outdoor room. There is just something about your work that really draws me in and I think it is the way that the entire compositions come together. In short, I feel like everytime I view one of your projects, I learn a little something more.

      See you around,

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