Mother Earth Living


Welcome Home: Reviving the Front Porch, From the Wraparound to the Stoop

Appreciation for the front porch, the home's connection to the community, is back. Whether your home has a small stoop or a Victorian wraparound, here's how to make it warm and welcoming.



An ideal socializing space, the large front porch that wraps around more than one side of the house is perfect for a solitary nap or a large gathering of friends and neighbors. Tom Lyons, a principal with Wolff Lyons Architects in Boulder, Colorado, replaced an unsightly, unkempt porch that had been built on to his turn-of-the-century home with this whimsical yet practical gazebo-like octagon. The porch “catches the southern orientation and allows us to celebrate being on a corner lot,” Lyons explains.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Adirondack chairs are incredibly versatile and good for a compact arrangement; their flat arms provide space for an open book and a beverage. Look for cedar chairs, which weather naturally and last many years, even when exposed to the elements. Or check out ECORondack chairs and ottomans, made of 100 percent recycled ­plastic and available from ECOlogic, www.ecoloft.com, (800) 899-8004.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
You visit the mailbox every day—shouldn’t it make you (and the letter carrier) smile? Tom Lyons created this “ferocious” pooch as a playful homage to loyal watchdogs.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Invite in the birds. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red. And not only do they make delightful guests, they eat thousands of gnats and aphids. Fill your hummingbird feeder with a solution that closely matches the sucrose content of the flowers that hummingbirds love. Add one part white granulated sugar to four parts boiling water and let cool to room temperature before filling the feeder. Never use honey, which can cause botulism in the hummers, or red food coloring. To prevent mold, which can be deadly for hummingbirds, empty the feeder every two or three days and wash with very hot water and a bottle brush.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Tom Lyons’s wife, Laura, inspired him to have some fun with the columns on their porch addition. Now a gallery of famous men—Sigmund Freud, Jack Kerouac, and Bozo the Clown among them—watches from the top of the posts. To make the conversation-starting posts, Tom drew sketches and then created patterns using simple shapes that were easy to make from pieces of scrap wood. Can you guess who this is?
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
The large porch almost requires a hammock. If the porch is not oriented to prevailing breezes (or if you live in a steamy climate), consider a ceiling fan or provide its low-tech alternative—the hand-operated, bamboo variety.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Accoutrements that feed all five senses are the best invitations to porch spaces that live, to borrow a phrase from architect and author Christopher Alexander. This cast-iron reproduction bell sings with passing breezes and also acts as a dinner gong or a signal to the kids that it’s time to come home.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
A roof and railings supply the desired sheltering feel of a porch and make it a true transition from the indoors to the outdoors. Space-conserving furniture such as bistro chairs and a small accent table are a smart use of space. And a hanging swing is a traditional way to encourage porch sitting.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Buckets full of flowering plants are a truly sensual experience, bringing color, fragrance, and sometimes taste to the porch. The traditional French method of tightly packing in many plants causes them to grow up and out, creating an abundant look.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Flower boxes that sit on or mount over the railing can add beauty without taking up floor space. Here, in an unusual twist, wheatgrass thrives in an old chicken trough. Amazingly simple to cultivate, wheatgrass germinates from seed in three to five days and grows an inch a day afterward. During its six- to eight-week life span, it can be harvested to use in healthy wheatgrass “shots.” Also known as “cat grass,” it acts as a digestive aid for the family feline. Wheatgrass seeds are available at garden supply stores or online at www.sprouthouse.com.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
With the right accessories, even a small stoop can become an ideal spot for socializing or just sitting. The stoop on this 1920s home accommodates several people on the stairs.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
If the stoop is large enough, add a small bench. This one, salvaged from an old carriage, is big enough to be comfortable for sitting but small enough not to overwhelm the stoop. Keep a basket with pillows or rolled-up cushions just inside the front door for easy access when everyone wants to enjoy socializing outside on a fine spring evening. Here, vintage ticking from old German mattresses is remade into exquisite pillows that are tucked into a Parisian tote made from rainforest-friendly raffia.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Placing potted flowers along the steps leading to the stoop softens the hard edges and provides a feeling of shelter.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
No matter how large your porch, a bright front door graced with a fragrant wreath always makes a good first impression. This wreath of dried peonies, coxcomb, celosia, and pepper berries heralds the arrival of spring.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Give your friends and neighbors a beautiful way to announce themselves; a chime is less jarring than an electric doorbell. This American Arts and Crafts chime from Woodstock Percussion in Shoken, New York, has been tuned using the ancient Greek “golden ratio,” which can be found throughout nature and in Arts and Crafts style architecture. The kiln-fired glass windcatcher, handcrafted in a small studio in Johannesburg, South Africa, is distributed through Trade plus Aid, an international fair-trade organization committed to helping some of the world’s poorest communities through sustainable crafts projects (www.tradeplusaid.com).
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Placing a basket at shoulder height is an aesthetic alternative to the humdrum mailbox; it also provides a convenient place to stash keys or a book you’re reading. This metal wall pocket is made from old Canadian sap buckets, once used for maple sugaring.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison











Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.