The July Fourth holiday always reminds us of childhood…lemonade, sparklers, bare feet in the grass, popsicles dripping down our chins. Adults relaxing in rockers on the porch, shooting the breeze in the hot summer sun.
Did you know modern day American porches have their ancestry in the porticos of ancient Greece? Then, a portico’s primary purpose was to add grandeur to entryways…is that any surprise coming from the ancient Greeks? In 17th and 18th century Europe, porticos would eventually evolve into more functional galleries and verandas, providing shade for gardens and public outdoor spaces. European settlers in America would begin to adapt these forms to the southern climate, seeking relief from the summer sun, while also having a place to gather with family and community members. Remember air conditioning is a relatively new phenomenon, so in addition to providing shade and a comfortable place to gather outdoors, porches also shielded the interior of the home, keeping it cooler. And thus, in colonial America, the front porch was born.
As American life changed, front porches became less common. Back yards that once housed trash heaps, outhouses and vegetable gardens evolved into private places to relax. Many builders and homeowners began to focus on the rear of the home, with patios and decks. However, a shift back toward front porches has been underway in the last decade, and it seems we may ultimately settle somewhere in the middle, able to enjoy our communities from the front porch, but with the option of privacy in the rear.
Below are some porches to inspire you. And beyond that, a few of our favorite accoutrements for a summer porch.