In the past, a home’s front porch served as the main outdoor gathering place for social visits and family relaxation. As a matter of fact, the history of our changing culture can be seen through the various architectural forms and purposes of the front porch. Why was the front porch so significant to family life during colonial times? A University of Virginia thesis on The Cultural Significance of the American Front Porch supposes that the front porch was the family’s connection to their land, and to nature – in a country where the wilderness was still yet to be tamed:
In essence, the porch served as a vital transition between the uncontrollable out-of-doors and the cherished interior of the home…In many ways, the front porch represented the American ideal of family. The porch, in essence, was an outdoor living room, where the family could retire after the activities of a long day.
Today, the front porch of most homes serve a very different purpose. It is the welcoming area for visitors and it is often used to denote a specific style statement of the home’s architecture – or a reflection of the family’s personal style. Front porches are also used to synchronize the home’s landscaping with the home’s exterior, adding a distinct curb appeal for passersby. Today, outdoor family gatherings have moved to the privacy of the home’s backyard where lounging, entertaining, and outdoor cooking will take center stage.
Porch Column Styles to Distinguish the Front Entrance
Through the years, architectural design preferences have transitioned from traditional to contemporary and modern home styles – and often homes have been left with a front entrance that is lackluster in appearance. Before reaching a home’s front door, most homes will simply feature a few stairs, a common landing area, and the porch roof overhang. Today’s homeowners are looking to turn the stark, drab front porch area into a decorative feature that compliments the home’s architectural style or enhances the home’s curb appeal.
Porch columns provide an immediate and drastic improvement that can transform the front entrance into a personal or historic style statement. For a historic perspective on porch columns, consider The 5 Orders of Architectural Columns. From the Doric Style of Ancient Greece to Ionic Style Columns like those that grace the front entrance to our nation’s Capital, to the sleek and Neoclassical Tuscan Style Columns – homeowners will discover that porch columns have been used to add significance and distinction to the front entrance of both historic and modern structures.
When considering a porch column idea, begin by choosing the desired style for each of the three parts of an architectural column. The capital (or cap) is the top portion, followed by the long, slender shaft, and finally the base portion of the column. Some homeowners prefer a simple base with a more ornate cap, and others may prefer a matching base and cap design style. Consider some of the following historical and modern cap and base selections that are available:
- Modern Composite
- Roman Doric
- Greek Ionic
- Roman Corinthian
Homeowners also have a wide variety of architectural column materials to choose from, including:
- Fiberglass – highly durable, lightweight, water and rot resistant
- Polymer Stone – the appearance and texture of cast stone, yet 50% lighter weight
- PVC Columns – customizable, lightweight and maintenance free
- Aluminum – for load bearing applications and attractive powder coat paint finish
- Wood Columns – provides architectural and historical relevance to period homes
When planning your new porch renovation project, consider the shape and size of the architectural columns that would best compliment your size of your front porch. Craftsman style porches are suitable for thick columns of polymer stone or wood, while a Victorian porch would be better suited with thinner posts that are spaced closer together. Complete your front porch makeover with new balustrades in materials that are low maintenance and have a longer lifecycle over wood, such as polyurethane, cast fiberglass, and polymer stone.
Porch Column Ideas
A Hampton Style Front Entrance
Today you will find a wide range of elegant and sophisticated homes occupying the coastal area of Hampton, New York. But traditional Hampton style homes feature a Georgian style that is bold and dramatic – with breezy and spacious porch areas in the front and coastal side of the home. Stunning architectural details such as slate tile gabled roofs, higher indoor ceilings, plenty of well spaced windows with wood trim, and a covered front entryway with massive pillars leading to the home’s front entrance door are common.
But homeowners with a traditional styled homes can attain the look of the Hampton Style by adding prestige Aluminum Porch Columns with elaborate scrolls and flourishes that are available in six different styles to emulate a Hampton decor. Choose from column finishes such as Gloss White to Clay to Bronze and Black Tex, and create a distinctly elegant look with a choice of intricately detailed Roman or Greek Capitals.
Aluminum porch columns are load bearing to handle the porch ceiling and roof systems that are common on Hampton Style homes. Seven powder coat paint finishes offer plenty of flexibility for contrasting or coordinating porch columns decorating ideas. Often a Hampton’s Porch serves double duty for leisurely entertaining as the coastal area offers exquisite ocean views from multiple vantage points of the home.
The Stately Georgian Manor Home
Larger homes with spacious front landscapes are the perfect backdrop to create a stately manor home, reminiscent of English royalty architecture. Today, these homes will have many updated and modern features, but still reflect traditional high-end amenities such as sweeping staircases, a great hall, lofty ceilings, walled gardens, and classically decorated rooms. Historically, this architectural style translated to Early America aristocracy and was popular in Southern colonies and New England during the 1700s.
Residential styles such as the Georgian Colonial which feature a large square, symmetrical shape with a center front door panel area would be perfect for positioning Round or Square Tapered Fiberglass Columns on each side of the entrance way – with the clean lines of Tuscan Cap and Base.
FRP Fiberglass columns that are square will compliment the massive frontal area of these larger homes, without adding significant bulk to the home’s appearance. Choose FRP fiberglass columns that are glass-reinforced with special polymers to create a strong, but lightweight porch column. Since these types of homes have very little roof overhang, fiberglass is perfect because it is water resistant. Therefore, the homeowner never has to worry about rotting wood or pest infestation. Expect fiberglass porch columns to perform exceptionally well for many years.
The Craftsman Style Front Porch
The Craftsman Era, also known as ‘Arts and Crafts Architecture’ spanned an era in American history during the early 19th century. The trend was a deliberate move away from the two popular home styles – the overly-ornate Victorian home and the overly-simplified, mass-produced homes of the Industrial Age. Instead, the Craftsman Era placed workmanship and handcrafted wood products at center stage in furniture making and architectural home styling. According to HGTV:
Most homes in the Craftsman style have porches with thick square or round columns and stone porch supports, with low-pitched roofs. The homes typically have a low roof with wide eaves and triangular brackets and exposed beams.
Worthington Millworks Round Wood Columns are the perfect addition to a Craftsman Style home. The homeowner has the choice of plain or standard fluting options, along with finger jointed Western pine or poplar lumber species. Simple, clean lines are common to Craftsman Era architecture, therefore a column cap and base such as the Attic or Tuscan would be true to the spirit of handcrafted artistry. You will find size diameters of up to 36″ to accommodate both homes and bungalows of this highly desirable architectural home style.
Another type of Craftsman style front porch details will feature square or round columns, often at half-height and set on a pedestal base. Bungalow styles will generally have a stucco or stone cladding around the tapered front porch columns, along with a tapered base. To emulate this traditional home style, consider installing lightweight Polymer Stone Porch Columns. These porch columns weigh 50% less than stone columns and are easy to install. The columns are composed of a durable polyester resin and are nearly indistinguishable from real cast stone.
Updated Country Cottage
What is a Country Cottage front porch without the shaded overhang for retiring in the evening with a cool lemonade or enjoying the sounds of nature with your morning coffee. But cottage homes are not reserved for hideaway retreats only. These small homes are also common on private residential streets and in many pre-suburban communities where small homes were the norm.
Shutters or awnings, full-length or wraparound porches, and dormer windows are common features of country cottage homes. Homeowners can accentuate these distinct exterior features with Affordable PVC Columns with Standard Capital and Base styles that are made in America and are truly maintenance-free.
Increase the curb appeal of these small homes with PVC architectural columns that are square and tapered to add just the right modern touch without taking away from the classic charm that is synonymous with country cottage living. The PVC wrapped columns can be painted to match the home’s architectural detail paint color for a striking effect.
Refreshing Colonial Revival Home
Colonial homes were another housing trend that was focused on moving away from the large and elaborate architectural style of the Victorian homes built in the late 1800s. During the 1960’s, a renewed interest in this style gave way to the Colonial Revival homes which featured simple and refined lines similar to earlier Federal and Georgian homes in American history. But the Neo-Colonial homes would use modern materials such as simulated, rather than real stone.
The Dutch Colonial home with its distinctive gambrel-shaped roof and spacious, columned front porch and entry, will offer homeowners a unique opportunity to renovate with Cast Fiberglass Columns that are lightweight and resistant to water infiltration and rotting. Many styles of fiberglass capital, shaft, and base would be a perfect fit for these porches with overhanging eaves. Consider the Round Tapered Architectural Columns with a Decorative Roman Doric Capital.
Porch Makeovers on a Budget
If you are dreaming of a porch makeover and anticipate sipping lemonade in the cool breeze of summer evenings, installing new or updated porch columns are the easiest and most cost-efficient way to add a stunning effect. The impact that architectural porch columns have on the aesthetics of the entire home are simply gorgeous. With a limited budget, PVC columns can add a dramatic effect. For loading bearing applications, consider Aluminum, and Cast or FRP Fiberglass Porch Columns.
Other great makeover ideas for the front entrance include adding architectural brackets underneath the roof eave. Architectural Brackets are manufactured from high density polyurethane, and will not rot or face damage from rain and insects. For a cohesive appearance, brackets can be added on garages or at the home’s front door entrance. You will find a wide variety of bracket designs from the sleek and clean lines of contemporary brackets to the intricate scrollwork of authentic traditional craftsmen brackets.
New, engineered materials such as FRP fiberglass and polyurethane are presenting new options for homeowners that don’t want to break the bank for exterior home improvement projects. Yet, the benefit is that these materials will last much longer than their heavier and more expensive wood counterparts – while being virtually maintenance-free.
For do-it-yourself home projects, you will find these lightweight products are easy to install and require very few tools. Also consider your home’s interior passageway. We produce full interior Entryway Passage Systems to complete your porch and front entry home remodeling projects.
Contact us to discover how Worthington Millworks exterior and interior architectural products for residential and commercial applications can be applied to budget-friendly renovation projects. All of our products are American-made from high-quality materials and with the same eye on craftsmanship that shaped our nation’s architectural landscape since colonial times. For exacting home installations, we provide computer-aided drawings with detailed specifications of our products, along with detailed installation instructions.