Front Porch Renovation Ideas to Add Storage and Space for Entertaining

Front Porch Renovation Ideas to Add Storage and Space for Entertaining

Not long after my friend married and bought his first home, his wife headed out of town for a cruise with her mother and sister. While they were gone, my friend planned to host a series of low-key boys nights at his house. But when we arrived with my friend at the new house, we found that the battery in his garage door opener was dead, and because he never used his front door key, the lock wouldn’t turn. And, of course, he didn’t have the key for the fence padlock with him. I ended up having to jump the fence and open up the back door so we could get in. The result of all this was that the neighbors called the police, worried about the strange man they saw running through the backyard.

My friend is not alone. There are many people who go straight from their garages into their homes day after day, and as far as they’re concerned the front door and its porch may as well not even exist. Spending time outdoors is something they do in the more spacious backyard. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The right front porch renovation ideas can make the front porch a more attractive place to spend time. A cozy porch can add value to your home, encourage you to get to know the neighbors, and help you reclaim an underused space.

How to Think About Your Front Porch Project

The front porch you likely own if you have a newer house is much smaller than those on older homes. On a typical ranch house, the front porch is a rectangle about three or four feet wide under the front eave of the home. If you own a Craftsman or a split-level home, what you most likely have is a small square in front of the door. If you own a home with any of these types of porches, that front porch is likely in worse repair than most of your home. This can be embarrassing, as it’s generally the first thing people see when visiting your home. Fortunately, there are ways of renovating even tiny front porches that can expand their use and change the look of your home for the better. To do a successful front porch renovation, keep three things in mind.

  • Functionality: A functional renovation is focused on the use you can get out of your porch. If you garden, the front porch is a handy place shake off the dust and leave gloves, boots, and other soiled equipment. A functional renovation for an avid gardener might be about finding a home for these items.
  • Entertaining: A renovation for entertaining plans to return the front porch to its roots as a social space. For small porches, options like built-in benches take up less space than patio furniture. Even something as simple as new railings to delineate the area can turn a front porch from a concrete slab to a place where guests feel comfortable having a drink or a quick chat.
  • Appearance: A purely appearance-based renovation focuses on making what is there look good. New posts, new railings to go between them, matching window shutters, and adding decorative hardware are all examples of renovations that focus on appearance.

No matter why you’re renovating your porch, all of these should be considerations. While you may want to focus on one aspect more than another, keeping all three in mind will help you improve your home’s property value and create a space you won’t tire of.

Front Porch Renovation Ideas from Post to Post

There are many projects you can use to spruce up your porch. Some are aimed purely at function. Others are aimed more at entertaining. All of them add use and value to a normally underused area of your home.

  • Adding storage for functionality: If you need to put your porch to work, consider adding storage units either up against the house or against the railings of the porch. These can be simple open shelves or cube storage, or they can be more complicated trunks or cabinets with hinged doors or tops. Either style is fairly simple to make out of 2×6 boards. If you choose to place the storage against the house, simply measure from the bottom of the window ledge to the floor of the porch and deduct 1½ inches for the width of the 2×6. Cut the boards that will be forming the vertical part of your storage to this length. The number of vertical supports needed will depend on the length you want to span, but I suggest spacing them no more than three feet apart if storage is the only thing you’ll be using them for. If you think it’s possible someone may try to sit or place heavy objects on the storage cubbies then your spacing between vertical supports should be a much smaller 16 inches. The spacing between horizontal shelving is entirely up to you, but I would suggest 8 inches as a minimum height and 18 inches as a maximum. These can be anchored to the structure behind with a 90-degree inside bracket. When mounted on the exterior using matching wood screws, it creates a tied-together look and ensures the shelves or cubbies will hold anything you put in them. Cabinet doors with matching hinges can also enhance not just the functionality of the storage but the overall appearance of your front porch. Now, the storage described here doesn’t really make for a comfortable seat, even if the odds are good someone will try sitting on it. So next we’ll talk about how to add seating that can double as storage.
  • Combining storage with seating for entertaining. If you’re looking to entertain on your front porch, built-in seating is a huge help, and it looks great, too. I suggest a variant on a simple garden bench design which simply requires using wider boards. If you were to measure the depth of your sofa or office chair’s seat, you’d find that it’s anywhere from 24 to 30 inches from the front of the cushion to the backrest. A 2×12 board is slightly under half that width, but it’s sufficient as a seat for a chat, especially if you add some cushions. If you’re using a 2×12 board, then you can use the same size board for the vertical supports and shelving as well. You can also cut out a decorative pattern—like half of a diamond on each board—or add decorative insets that will complement your other wrought iron look accents. A word of caution: on especially narrow porches you may have to get creative to make built-in seating work. With an especially narrow front porch, adding benches could crowd the porch and make the space too crowded. Placing a bench and storage combination along the outside of the porch–rather than against the wall of the home–can help by making the most of the space by the railings and by using the porch’s posts for a vertical support. For this, thicker posts can help.
  • Replacing your porch posts with thicker ones. Changing those 4×4 posts out with thicker 6×6 or even 8×8 posts can provide much greater support for seating and storage. It will give the entire home a more rugged appearance, too, and provide greater usable space for anything between the posts, such as built-in flower planters. A thick post also lets you push the railing out to the exterior edge of the post and build a bench with storage on the interior side, changing both the appearance and function of the front porch. Or, add wide top rails to your railings that match the width of your posts, turning your railing into a bar. Use decorative black metal wood ties on these projects, and when you add wrought iron-look post bases and caps to your posts (as in the image at the top of this article) it’ll tie the whole renovation together.

At first glance, a post, planter, and a bench seem like separate objects, but by bringing these objects together carefully, they can become a unified whole, working to transform one of your home’s most-ignored spaces into a place you’ll love spending time. The devil, of course, is in the details, and getting different materials to work together can be a real challenge. By keeping certain elements consistent, like the stain and the hardware you use on the wood, you can turn disparate pieces into a unified whole that increases your home’s curb appeal and value.

Laredo Sunset by OZCO Building Products is a line of decorative hardware that provides a beautiful complementary look to wood on a front porch or in any home project. This complete line of hot-dipped galvanized and powder-coated steel hardware not only holds strong no matter the wear and tear, it also brings the unique, rustic look of wrought iron to your home. It is thoroughly engineered for outdoor use, but looks great when used indoors, too. If you’re thinking about a front porch renovation, consider the Laredo Sunset or Ironwood line of ornamental hardware to tie your home’s look–and structure–together.

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Comments (2)

  • DSR Reply

    Will this work for a brick veneer house?

    April 1, 2018 at 9:13 pm
    • OZCObp Reply

      You can’t attach anything directly to the brick veneer. Fasteners must penetrate into the wall studs.

      April 2, 2018 at 7:53 am

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