Life on the Porch - Random Reasonings

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Life on the Porch

It’s porch time!

From late spring through mid Autumn the best place to enjoy a lazy day is on your porch. If you’re lucky enough to have a porch on your house.

Porches were a key part of social life in Victorian times. Homes were built with large porches that often wrapped around the front and one side of the house. People would sit on their porches and neighbors strolling down the street would be invited to come up on the porch for a drink and conversation.

Porches continued to be popular through the 1930s. The bungalow style homes that were all the rage in the 1930s had front porches.

With the post WWII boom in housing, however, the ranch style became the home of choice and ranch style houses didn’t have porches. The porch became a bygone thing. By the 1950s ranch style homes made up 90% of all new homes being built. The style is still common and in some states makes up 81 percent of homes available.

Patios were often added at the back of ranch homes and socializing became something for just friends and family who were invited for backyard cookouts.

In the 1980s decks became the outdoor living space of choice. Decks were always at the back of the house and decks were added to homes of all styles and ages. From 1985 to 1997 I lived in an 1848 Federal style brick home in the historic section of town. While the house was authentic looking from the street, at the back there was a deck and inground pool.

New homes were designed then with large, often multi-tiered decks, that turned outdoor living into a private luxury oasis.

But in 2017 the front porch regained its popularity. Since then 65% of new homes built have front porches. I think that’s encouraging news.

Outdoor living is a way of life we all enjoy and look forward to. Whether it’s on a porch, a patio, a deck, or shady spot in the yard. Even city homes, apartments, and condos often have a small balcony that can accommodate a couple chairs and a small table for the enjoyment of life in the fresh air.

At our house in Florida we have a very large porch. Screened in, of course, to keep the no-see-ums and mosquitoes from joining us. Although it seems there is no screen made that a no-see-um can’t get through.

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking that first cup of coffee to the porch in the morning, listening to the birds, the gentle sound of the water lapping at the shore, the occasional splash as a fish jumps out of the water or a pelican lands on the water, and watching the sun climb in the sky.

Afternoons stretched out on the chaise or the hammock, with a good book and a cold drink, are the ultimate indulgence in relaxation.

It’s a great place to entertain friends, and even during the most restrictive Covid times I rearranged the furniture for social distance seating so we could invite four friends at a time for drinks, conversation, and food, all while being safely outdoors.

Quite simply, I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t have a porch, patio, deck or some kind of outdoor living space.

At our ranch in PA, where we live in the summer, we have a front porch, a back porch, and a large patio with a fireplace … three very different outdoor living spaces. And we have an inground pool with outdoor living space around it.

Porches also give me a fun way to garden. Adorning porches, decks, patios, and balconies with colorful pots of flowers and herbs is a creative way to garden in containers that you can change every year. I did it in city apartments and town houses when that was where I lived, and do it at both my Florida and PA homes.

In 2021 approximately 21.2 million households participated in container gardening. Choosing the types and mix of flowers and plants to combine in containers is a form of living art that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to your porch.

Whether you’re sharing your outdoor spaces with friends, family, pets, or just enjoying it by yourself, take time this summer to enjoy your outdoor living. Have your meals on your porch, deck, or patio. Listen to the sounds of nature and create your blissful retreat from all the “noise” of ongoing life.

And if you’re really lucky, none of the neighbors will decide to run their power mowers, weed whackers, or noisy equipment that can disturb your tranquil retreat to the outdoors.

“Here in the south we don’t hide crazy. We parade it on the front porch and give it a sweet tea.”

Olivia Dope

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One comment

  1. Aaaahhh… how I miss the big wraparound front porch when I was growing up! It was a place of social gatherings, for sure! Back then, neighbors were out and about and long, friendly visits on the porch swing were the best! I must settle for a back porch visits now…but still on the porch swing. It is a requisite for me. Enjoy your outside living!

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