What is it that attracts us to porches?!
Porches can be more protected and reflect the inside of a home…
Laurey W. Glenn Photo -raleighcarync.blogspot.com/2013/04/decorating-ideas-for-big-or-small.html
… or more open and furnished with elements that can withstand more of the rigors of being outside …
or have furnishings that stand on their own and reflect the outside environment.
I always find porches appealing and I think many of us are drawn to being outside, and yet still connected to our homes.
We find safety and comfort in that connection.
The space between the inside of a home and the outside has had a rich history, starting with the ancients; this transitional area is most often referred to as a porch (see some definitions below).
The example below is a reconstructed portico from Ancient Pompeii.
Reconstruction of the Roman Garden, The House of Vettii, Pompeii; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gardening
In the American Heritage Dictionary, 1982 edition, there are three definitions offered for porch: “1. A covered platform, usually having a separate roof, at an entrance to a house. 2. An open or enclosed gallery or room attached to the outside of a building; verandah. 3. Obs. A portico or covered walk.” The word porch itself, stems from the Middle English porche, which is derived from the Latin porticus (portico) and porta (gate).
Whether we just sit on a vintage porch…
… or enjoy a modern version …
…or even sleep!
Sleeping porches were popular in the Victorian and Arts and Crafts periods (late 19th into the early 20th century). For example, just after the Civil War, American vacation homes had spaces for sleeping outdoors. Even as the 19th century was coming to a close, into the beginning of the 20th century (as late as 1925) homeowners requested that in new construction or as an addition to an existing home, builders add porches for sleeping, for cooler nights during the summer and for the healthiness of being in the fresh air.
A Sears House Plan – Second Floor from 1921 – with Sleeping Porch; www.searshomes.org/index.php/2012
However, it was only in the 20th century, with advancing technology, that air conditioning (which first became widespread in homes after World War II) and television were both reasons for home-owners to stay inside. The emphasis on uniform temperature inside, regardless of seasonal changes outside has become the norm, even in areas where the changes of the season do not cause enormous temperature variations.
And here we are in the 21st century and, in fact, what we think of as “outdoor rooms” have become increasingly popular again. And as we move into Fall, in New England, we savor porches and other outdoor spaces that reflect or are decorated in late summer and fall colors.
Bucks County Residence: screen porch Photo: Barry Halkin