Per­fect Porches

De­sign a perch that al­lows you to take in all that your prop­erty has to of­fer with­out ob­struct­ing the look of your cabin.

Cabin Living - - Contents -

De­sign a perch that al­lows you to take in all that your prop­erty has to of­fer with­out ob­struct­ing the look of your cabin.

Porches are a catchall fea­ture in cabin de­sign. They pro­tect your ex­te­rior walls. They ex­pand your cabin’s foot­print. And they pro­vide mo­ments of pure re­lax­ation as you con­nect with the set­ting around you. And they’re fairly sim­plis­tic to de­sign; all you re­ally need are a base, rail­ing and roof.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t spend time think­ing about how your porch will in­ter­act with your cabin and prop- erty. Here are a few de­sign con­sid­er­a­tions to keep in mind as you start to map out your plan.

Di­men­sions. Porches should be no less than 8 feet wide in or­der to ac­commo-

date po­ten­tial fur­ni­ture items such as ta­bles and chairs. Any­thing less than that is go­ing to make it hard to fit in fur­nish­ings. Keep in mind, though, that wider porches may re­quire ad­di­tional struc­tural support or roof pro­vi­sions.

“The fur­ther you go out, the higher that porch roof is go­ing to sit up on your ex­ist­ing roof,” ex­plains Ron Sil­li­boy, cor­po­rate sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ward Cedar Log Homes. “If you have a shal­low pitch, and you want a front porch, some­times you won’t be able to go out 10 to 12 feet.”

Ac­cess. Sim­i­lar to any other en­try point into your cabin, you should con­sider how your porch will fac­tor into other de­sign el­e­ments and the prop­erty it­self. For ex­am­ple, you may wish to have mul­ti­ple en­trances to your porch to en­able eas­ier mo­bil­ity from lo­ca­tion to lo­ca­tion.

“A lot of times own­ers will just think of one en­trance to the porch, and maybe a side en­trance to the porch would be ben­e­fi­cial, es­pe­cially if you have an at­tached garage or some­thing like that,” Sil­li­boy ob­serves. “You can walk out of your garage or work­shop right onto the porch ver­sus walk­ing all the way around it and then up.”

Con­sider nat­u­ral path­ways from all lo­ca­tions to make sure it’s not more of a has­sle to reach than it needs to be.

En­clo­sure. There are two main types of porches: open air and screened in. Although the de­sign prin­ci­ples are es­sen­tially the same in terms of base and roof in­stall­ment, screened-in porches do pro­vide some ad­di­tional op­tions — namely pro­tec­tion from bugs.

You don’t have to de­cide be­tween one or the other ei­ther. Many own­ers en­joy a split porch, in which a por­tion of the space may be en­closed while the rest is open to the el­e­ments. Half walls are great for di­vid­ing th­ese spa­ces, with the top por­tion en­closed. Or you can opt to delete the rail­ing and en­close the space from floor to ceil­ing.

Con­sis­tency. Be­cause your porch roof must in­ter­act with your main roof, it’s best to con­sider sym­me­try in your de­sign ele- ments to en­sure your rooflines stay com­pat­i­ble. For ex­am­ple, on a wrap­around porch, Sil­li­boy sug­gests keep­ing the widths of each porch the same to en­sure sim­i­lar pitches in the roof. If not, he adds, “the roof just doesn’t tie in well. It’s messy.”

Sight Lines. You’re likely de­sign­ing a porch to be able to take in the views, not ob­struct them. So pay at­ten­tion to place­ment of items such as support beams so you don’t end up with a post right in the mid­dle of your win­dow.

To achieve this, Sil­li­boy notes, you can stag­ger the way your posts are ar­ranged. He rec­om­mends plac­ing posts no more than 8 feet apart to cut down on the need for support head­ers, which can also be a bar­ri­cade to great vis­tas.

TOP: El­e­ments such as swings and benches pro­vide ad­di­tional re­lax­ation mech­a­nisms in your porch de­sign. Just make sure to note build­ing code re­quire­ments for heights and sup­ports.

ABOVE: Pay at­ten­tion to the spac­ing be­tween support posts to make sure you’re not ob­struc­tion your views — from inside your cabin or while sit­ting out­doors.

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