The porch is making a triumphant return decades after it began fading from the U.S. architectural landscape. The Census Bureau reports that 63 percent of new single-family homes completed last year had porches — an increase from 42 percent two decades earlier. Ed Hudson, marketing research director of the National Association of Home Builders’ Home Innovation Research Labs, reasons, “The wealthier we feel, and the more feature-rich we desire our homes to be, the more likely they are to have a porch.” The return of the porch indicates a desire for social connection, adds Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture. Stern made porches the hallmark of homes in Celebration, Fla., the master-planned community he helped design for the Walt Disney Company in the late 1990s. His contention is that a porch “friendlies up the house.” In the luxury-housing niche, meanwhile, porches are being designed as fully functional outdoor rooms that feature everything from built-in speakers to solar and wind-activated awnings. Cage-like screens have been replaced by fine mesh made of bronze or vinyl-coated aluminum. Some homeowners are even installing radiant-heat panels in porch floors and ceilings to make them habitable even in the colder months. Even “decks” are being re-christened as “porches,” particularly in high-end home design. | Read More