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American style porches and verandas

Porches, verandas: what’s in a name? Well to clarify, a veranda is a balcony or platform that has a roof and is usually partly enclosed, extending along the outside of a property. A porch has a covered and enclosed entrance to a property, sometimes in a wrap around design.

Americans really do love their porches, they are as much a part of American culture as pumpkin pie, the very thought of a porch symbolises a snapshot of ideal family life. This neutral space between home and yard is the place where you stop and relax, have a glass of homemade lemonade, catch up on some gossip, take in a breath of fresh air and admire the view. For many, porches represent family time, neighbourliness and outdoor living. It is no wonder that porches are a desirable architectural feature in the US. Porches quickly gained in popularity and became part of an ideological, old-time tradition. However, many American homes built with a porch since the 1940s have only a token one, often too small for comfortable social use and only added to enhance the visual impression of the building. Here is a look at three classic iconic American porch styles.

Colonial style porches

America’s Colonial period brought with it a range of European home design ideas, which in turn produced Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, and other styles. Overall, homes of this era were two stories high and symmetrical in shape. When the settlers moved onward, the style was altered to suit the environment. For example, in the Deep South generously sized porches, with bold columns were added across the entire front of the house to help people beat the hot temperatures.  The Creole townhouses in New Orleans, Louisiana, are noted for their prominent use of verandas. In fact, most houses constructed in the Southern United States before the invention of air conditioning, were built with a covered front porch. They would be decorated in crisp white, grey blues, and tans-classic Colonial colours, as are the ceilings that were brushed in blue. Furnishings would be gracious and plentiful, that would include rocking chairs, settees, planters, and even lighting.

Chandeliers on grand porches; period-appropriate lanterns enhance more modest and Early American houses. To ensure a pleasant breeze, one or more ceiling fans overhead might also have been added.

Farmhouse style porches

It doesn’t get much more inviting than the old-fashioned farmhouse porch, with its extensive wrap-around design and straightforward style. Initially these porches were created to help cool inside the home and provide a comfortable atmosphere, these covered porches are practical, and simple in their decor and design.

Farmhouse porches generally open to the back yard. Designs typically feature wooden railings and decorative lattice features. Wood floors and ceilings are stained or painted. Furnishings are for comfort and have a personal style. Wicker is a traditional favourite for country-style porches, but wood, cast iron, and reclaimed objects are used too. Lastly there are the nostalgic touches; such as a porch swing and a screen door.

Bungalow style porches

Bungalow porch styles are a part of the Arts and Crafts movement (1895 – 1935), which developed from a response to the decorative Victorian architecture of 1870-1900. Embracing minimalism, workmanship, and natural materials, bungalows are the definition of coziness and relaxation. The Bungalow porch is more thought of as an outdoor living room, furnished with handcrafted rocking chairs or a loveseat, a few planters, and some artisan lighting. Cedar wood is generally used for railings and floors, sometimes mahogany or cypress wood. In general, bungalow porches open up to the garden creating an ascending open space. These porches were the height of popularity in the early 20th century, and still today, existing versions are being restored and reconstructed, it will always be the warm and inviting feature of the traditional American home.