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Adding a Front Porch

Our newly purchased Mid-Century house is a very loooong ranch style from the front.

How the New Porch will Enhance Front

Our newly purchased house had some issues… the front facade was a glaring one! The house looked so long, and had the front door tucked in the corner, almost as an after thought. The house also had asymmetrical window and door placements that we’ve been working on fixing to a more symmetrical look, (you can see all about that door and windows decisions here).

I decided to add a front porch jutting out from the front facade would declare the entrance more clearly.

Here’s the method behind the madness on this front porch design.

Front of House Before…

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

The front entry was quite formal looking… if you could find it. This photo is actually zoomed in on the house… there is a wing to the left and right of what you can see here.

Walkway Unclear

The long house felt like it just kept going… and it wasn’t clear if you were supposed to walk right next to the house, or on the sidewalk out front. The sidewalk goes around the front but it doesn’t actually connect to the driveway… I think they must have had a plan that never got finished? So when a visitor gets out of their car, they have the option to walk in the yard until they find the front sidewalk, or walk the narrow runway next to the house… neither choice felt quite right.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Here you can really get a feel for the long runway feel.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Making a Sketch

I came up with a rough sketch for the front porch design… initially I was considering to make the front porch a screened-in porch.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

After thinking about it a bit, I decided to keep the porch open and not screened. The goal was to create this front porch to celebrate the front entrance in a most welcoming format. To invite people to easily find the front door. Having screens and an outside screen door would defeat that purpose by visually closing it off.

Yes, we live in the Midwest and have lots of mosquitoes, that should be only at dusk. We have plans for a ceiling fan out on the porch, that will help keep them away.

Inspiration from a Great Old Movie

Oh and let me share with you a little more inspiration for changing this house into a Colonial Revival cottage style… One of, if not the best Colonial Revival house ever! The house from the old movie ‘Bringing up Baby’ with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Cute movie… Fantastic house!

Here are a couple inspiring pics from it. (I actually paused the movie and took a picture with my phone… not the best quality, but enough for me to refer to for design reference:

SimpleDecoratingtips.com Front Porch

See those big beams on the porch? I love that they did double beams. My design isn’t double beams, but I for sure was inspired by this front porch.

SimpleDecoratingtips.com Front Porch

And that bay window? Love that stone planter bench thing under it!

Our Beams

Once I had a plan, it was time to find the materials. After a few phone calls and connections with friends, we found a sawmill an hour or so away that had these gorgeous rough sawn 8 x 8 posts. Hard to tell the scale of them in this little picture, but they are very massive. (rough sawn lumber is exactly what the dimensions say… so 8 x 8 is actually 8″ x 8″. Unlike dimensional lumber which takes off 1/2″ to 3/4″ making an 8 x 8 only 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ or less)

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Buying direct from the sawmill was a fun experience… and it saved considerable money from buying them at the lumberyard.

Pier Foundation

Time for the foundation. (don’t worry, the electric for that old post light was already disconnected)

We live in NW Wisconsin. We have real winter where we can get frost 3′ deep. (in the winter the ground totally freezes hard as a rock!) That means that footings for the foundation must be even deeper so that the frost doesn’t heave them out.

Our contractor, Dan, rented a Dingo to dig the holes for the foundation.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Inspector Measures for Depth

Once the holes were dug, the building inspector measured to be sure they were deep enough before we could fill them: (the blue poles are there marking the holes to prevent someone accidentally falling in.)

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Concrete

Filling the holes with concrete. I quickly dug out the plants I wanted to transplant right before Dan started on the porch. You can still see my gorilla cart with some hostas in it. (I love that dump cart! HERE is a link for one)

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

After the cardboard foundation tube got set in the hole, Dan filled it with concrete, leveling it.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Construction Begins

A week or so later, construction on the porch began. The time frame of this whole house renovation changed suddenly when we realized the current roof was leaking!

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

We initially were thinking we were going to do this front porch and roof next Spring, giving us ample time and energy to concentrate on the interior this fall. Well one needs to ebb and flow with the tides of renovation is one is hoping to keep any sanity.

Post Bases Important, but Not Cheap

The posts set on post bases, which then connect to the concrete piers. (those little metal posts bases are not cheap! over $100 each! HERE is a link for the post bases) The metal post base has a gap between the post and the concrete. They do have an important role, they keep the post off the concrete, keeping the wood dry and hopefully rot-free. The metal post bases have to be structurally strong enough to hold up a lot of weight.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Tip…

If you’re ever ordering post bases… (and how I learned about the rough sawn dimensions being different from dimensional posts, like green treated ones) The post bases will be either regular 8 x 8 bases for dimensional lumber, which really isn’t 8 x 8… that means a true 8 x 8 like these rough sawn post are, won’t fit in those regular bases. You have to order post bases to fit rough sawn posts… they really are 8 x 8. Confusing isn’t it?!

Deciding What to Keep

I determined the size  and shape of the front porch based on a few things. First, I had to carefully dissect what on the house facade was quality and worth keeping, or at least considering keeping and what was not.

The brick on the front, though the shape of the individual brick is a bit oblong for a true Colonial Revival Cottage style, (my design goal) it is quality built and worth keeping.

As well as the brick ledges and front stairs the come straight off the front door. I love the way they look and for sure want to keep them, the trick is how to make a large extend front porch with a narrow front stoop.

In the planning of the front porch, my contractor and I brainstormed all sorts of scenarios (including removing some or all of that brick ledge) my final design carefully includes the entire brick facade inside the porch, defining this whole area.

For the depth of the porch, I knew I wanted the part over the stairs to jut out more than the rest of the porch, so once that depth was determined by coming off the front ledges, and ending before the existing sidewalk, then the large porch area was set back from there, and viola! the porch size was designed.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

The main construction of the porch got done just in time for the roofers to come the next day and finish the roof just in time… that evening the snow started to fall!!

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

The New Porch is Taking Shape

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Carpet…

Once the maroon carpet was ripped off, the adhesive needed to be removed. This was so difficult to remove, we actually covered the entire porch and run of concrete on garage side with decking material. The last part to finish is the steps and front stoop. To install decking material on top of that concrete would be very difficult… I’m working on a different plan.

Porch Floor Decking

The main porch floor is now a composite decking…

I priced tons of different brands and styles of decking. Some brands are very expensive. All are more expensive than wood, but unlike wood, the composite floor doesn’t warp, rot or need to be finished.

After over 30 years of owning many different homes, I have learned that somethings are totally worth an extra investment at the beginning to save time and energy later.

HERE are many choices of composite decking.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

The section of porch with the decking, (the large part that is under the windows) was built to the level that the long runway was. To avoid it looking like a deck, with it just being open underneath, (not my favorite look, especially at the front entry) I perused the internet for inspiration pics of porch skirting. By having skirting around the bottom of the porch deck, it will look more like a porch.

Using Composite Wood at Ground Level

I loved the look of the white contrast with the grey tones of the composite decking and posts. (the whole house will be painted white next summer too)

But I didn’t love the idea of boards that needed to be painted right next to the ground. My experience is that they get dirt splattered on them when it rains and lose paint quickly and look bad. But we had an answer to that!

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Trex composite wood! It never needs painting, if it gets splattered on, I can just hose it off and not worry about getting it wet. It saws and screws just like regular wood. It’s a great option for this! HERE are numerous choices for Trex composite trim boards.

Posts and Railings..

All of the existing posts and railing was removed. I listed them for sale on a garage sale Facebook site, and they were gone in a couple hours! The folks that bought them were excited to use for a fun garden project. It’s fun to help in the repurposing cycle.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Details

There are so many details in this porch design.

Things like this bay window, and how to finish the ceiling, and adding lights. All those details take time. Plus, this porch is fairly large. I think it’s around 30′ long. Once a detailed is figured out, it takes a lot of time and material to do it on a big space like this.

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Kind of fun picture above… you can see the reflection in the window of the pond across the street. It’s a very pretty setting. I look forward to the day we can actually sit out on this porch and enjoy it!

Fascia and Soffit

They just finished all the soffit and fascia around the porch, and are starting the ceiling. I pre-painted the wood beadboard panels in a sky blue color and there will be white boards detailing a paneled effect. (I’ll show you that in a porch progress post) but here here you can get a glimpse of it:

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

Staining the Beams

The posts of the porch got a coat of stain on them. I did it once they were up, but before any soffit or floor was installed. Staining can be kind of messy. Especially something like this. I put the stain in a roller tray and used a super thick nap roller to apply the stain to the posts. Only having to actually use a brush on the corners and inside edges.

The color of stain I chose is just a light grey color. I really like how it tones down the yellow of the pine posts, but still feels light and natural. The grey tones work well with both the dark mahogany new door as well and the grey composite flooring.

This is the stain I selected: Chatham Fog. I could only find it online. I did a bit of research and everything I read about it said it held up really well. Even though these posts are fairly protected and don’t get much sun on them, it’s still good to know that the stain is good quality and should hold up well.

Progress so Far

So here’s the house as of Sunday…

SimpleDecoratingTips.com Adding a Front Porch

They finished more details on Monday, but it’s cold, snowy and icy today, so they’re inside working on the mudroom addition. The new windows for the garage wall, (the wall to the right of the porch) are on order and should be in in a few weeks… that’ll finish the symmetry of the front.

UPDATE!

The house is painted now, and the front gardens are done. Here is a picture of the front porch before the gardens were completed.

HERE is a link to see the finishing details to complete this porch.

before & after front garden landscaping SimpleDecoratingTips.com

If you’re interested in seeing it with the front gardens completed, HERE is a post showing that!

Are you interested in getting help for a porch design? HERE is my decorating business, (I offer e-decorating consultation!!) Frame and Frills

More posts featuring this whole house renovation:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and now Instagram!  I appreciate you reading along.

This post is linked up at these other sites: A Delightsome Life, Pearl Street Design, My Thrift Store Addiction, French Country Cottage, Olives & Okra, Simply Sweet Home, Chic on a Shoestring, Tatertots and Jello, The Boondocks Blog, Refresh Restyle, Coastal Charm, Between Naps on the Porch, Skip to my Lou, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Stone Gable, A Stroll Thru Life, The DIY Dreamer

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Kevin says

    A nice addition to a 1950’s ranch i LOVE ranches one floor living had been the rage today its a colonial – with a “tube elevator”

  2. NubNub says

    You should of raised the footings up above the soil so the post are not in contact with the ground. Rott and termites will get to them.

    • Liz says

      Thank you for your comment NubNub. Yes, you are correct, if the posts are in contact with the ground rot is a concern. Fortunately, even though the outside base wrap on the posts is at ground level on ours, it is covering the metal post bases that have the posts up off the concrete footings. ? We can easily replace that base wrap when it starts to get bad.

  3. Mette says

    Hi Liz,
    I was excited to find your post about the front porch as I am debating adding one. Like your step by step description and education about lumber measurements:)
    Will you share photos of your finished porch?
    Mette

    • Liz says

      Thank you Mette! Yes, I will be doing a post on the finished front porch very soon! You’re the 2nd person this week to ask about that specifically! I guess it’s time! LOL Thank you for reading along, stay posted, newly finished porch post coming up! 🙂 Liz

  4. Merry Juliana Menden says

    Hi Liz!
    I just stumbled across your site this morning and am so happy I did! You have a a great vision for your home and your style sense in design is classic. I certainly appreciate all the tips, done with a great sense of humor! You possess a lovely taste in films to boot. We just purchased a rancher with a small front porch entry.

    • Liz says

      Thank you so much Michelle! It’s so cold now up here, I think it’ll probably be spring before we get it all done. But that’s ok, there’s a lot to do inside now… 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Elena says

    This is so exciting, reading about the transformation process. Now I want to watch the movie Bringing Up Baby…it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.

    • Liz says

      haha… I know, it’s a great movie, right?! But you’ve got to take special note of her family house! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Liz

  6. Carol Taylor says

    We have been working on a house built in 1980. We love it. I really enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to following your adventure. We are on our last part…. which involves finding bamboo flooring to match what we put in the rest of the house. Of course we thought this would not be q problem… so wrong. No one stocks our flooring any longer (and believe me..it is not an unusual color. But, I have faith we will locate something that will work. We retired to coastal North Carolina. We are so happy here…nothing will dampen our resolve. Happy House Renovating…. Carol

    • Liz says

      Thanks Carol! So glad to have thou reading along. ? We have friends that live in/ by Waxhaw NC… they love it there too. Good luck on your flooring search. If you know the manufacturer and style name, try ProSource, they may be able to get it. Or have a good replacement.

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