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Hamptons Life

Sep 10, 2010 9:45 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Porch living offers a mix of indoors and outdoors

Sep 10, 2010 9:45 AM

They are neither inside nor fully outside. They may be open or closed, in front of a house, in the back or even wrapped around the sides in the Victorian style, but one thing is certain about porches: they are widely enjoyed by the East Enders who have them.

Offering access to both sunshine and shade, it is no wonder porches are a household hot spot. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, porches are a perennially popular wish list topper among home buyers, said Maryanne Horwath, a licensed associate real estate broker for Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Southampton Village.

One of the charms of a porch is that it plays a unique role of betwixt and between, said Pamela Glazer, a Shinnecock Hills architect.

“I think a porch is a wonderful transition from outside to inside,” she commented. “It gives you that chance to come from bad weather, to be under a roof, assuming it’s a covered porch, to drop your groceries and packages and be able to unlock your door, it gives you that period of time to collect your things.”

Indeed, the porch can be seen as a welcome respite from a downpour on one’s way in or a breath of fresh air on one’s way out.

And a front porch can be particularly good for street watching, Ms. Glazer, who said she put porches on nearly every house she does, added.

“I do think the front porch is very, very important. I never feel like you should walk from your street or driveway to your front door,” said Ms. Glazer. “It’s important, even if your house is small.” She added that even houses with small outside entry ways still benefit from patio furniture or a favored flowerpot.

Ariadne Calvo-Platero, a Southampton Village resident whose home is famous for its porch, said that she likes what her porch has to offer.

“I think the porch adds a charm and a welcoming entrance, and I think without the porch it would be a little more stark,” said the woman whose home has been dubbed “Porch House” for its south-facing white wooden porch that graces its front. “We love it.”

Ms. Calvo-Platero said she and her relatives often sit on the porch enjoying cool pitchers of water while children play soccer on the front lawn. She named the “openness” of the porch as her favorite part about it. Yet when asked how often she and her family use the porch, she replied: “Not as often as I would like, but with fair frequency someone is sitting there reading a book or taking in the evening sun.”

“Porch House” was originally built on Hill Street around 1880, but was moved to its current location on Marylea Drive in the mid-20th century. Ms. Calvo-Platero said she believed the porch was added after the move because it was deemed “prettier that way.”

Marjorie Goldberg, a Bridgehampton architect, said she considers porches a “powerful addition” to a house.

“It’s additional living space without terribly great expense,” she said, adding that porches can be designed for use during multiple seasons of the year, though they must be designed “very carefully,” to agree with all building and zoning codes as well as to match the rest of the house. “A porch can look easy to build, but in fact it can be rather tricky.”

Ms. Glazer noted the importance of depth, how far a porch sticks out from the house and how much sun is desired.

A screen-in porch, she said, is a wonderful way to feel as though one is sitting outside without actually doing so, particularly in wooded areas. And sleeping porches—those with beds and usually placed on the second floor, harkening back to Victorian times—can be especially delightful, she said.

The versatility of porches means they offer something for just about everyone, though if one envisions enclosing a porch someday, Ms. Goldberg recommended having that be part of the project from the beginning if one is adding a porch. They also hold appeal as a winter greenhouse if enclosed with glass. And though, the orientation and nature of a porch varies greatly, she said she believes a porch would fit on any house.

The addition of a porch for a client’s home in Sag Harbor, for example, “increased the enjoyment of the house a hundredfold, Ms. Goldberg said. The porch fit the bill of enhancing the enjoyment of a space without the greater expense of tacking on a whole extra room.

The placement of a porch in relation to a house also usually means that it is enjoyed for a different set of reasons, Ms. Glazer said. She noted that front porches tend to add more to the look of the house, while back porches provide more privacy.

“Our lives are much more private than public now, even though ultimately I think we’re all nosy,” she laughed. “Yet, they are still very social places, good for cocktails and good old chats.”

One of her clients, Karen Boehlert, described her porch as a “major” feature of her home in Southampton. Her porch, which is where the family poodle, Lucy, likes to hang out with the humans, is decked out with flower-filled urns. A resident of Toronto for most of the year, Ms. Boehlert said she looks forward to and relishes summers on her Southampton porch.

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I have always dreamed of having a porch, but one of those is not so nice. The one with the blue posts and flat top seems like a poor effort at being contemporary. And while I have previously enjoyed Ms. Reynolds columns, I wonder how she is qualified to write about architecture? Doesn't the Press employ others with more qualifications in that area? Like Mary Cummings, Dawn Watson, and Anne Surchin?
By SHGirl (3), southampton on Sep 3, 10 8:48 PM
This past winter we finally purchased a lovely home in Charleston, SC.
Not only do we have a porch, but we have a portico and a solerium with huge Charleston Green French doors. Sounds grand; right? Its not. It just feels grand.
By montauknellie (27), Montauk on Sep 5, 10 7:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Our new winter home is actually the Historic Sag Harbor dwelling we could never afford, here. Its a Sag 10' ceiling, huge 5-piece moldings, historic style bungalo with very low taxes, intercoastal, wild-by-nature scenery and sandy ocean beaches. The down side? Its far from our east end of Long Island, where big bucks have sewed up all desireable territories. And there are virtually no farm stands.

By montauknellie (27), Montauk on Sep 5, 10 8:06 AM
We lived on Mom's spacious side porch. It was far more private than a front porch and could be enjoyed almost nine months of the year. Screened by flowering shrubs, it allowed us to be outdoors to hear the birds, feel the breezes and smell the flowers while being sheltered from the sun or rain. Lovely for reading quietly or catching up with each others news.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Sep 7, 10 10:43 AM
i moved to wake forest,nc 5years ago. the home we bought was because of the front porch. 53 feet long aand wraps around to the back of the house. we also have a porch out back that half is screened in. we live on these porches every day except for part of jan and all of feb. we wouldn't have it any other way. we highly reccomend porch living.
By sweetpea (2), wake forest on Sep 11, 10 8:25 PM