05 February 2011

Get Inspired: A Perfect Porch

The town my family and I call home most of the week is graced with all manner of charming houses. A walk down almost any of its tree-lined streets bears witness to a mid-to-late-19th-century heyday: here a Victorian mansion with a whimsical tower, there a Greek Revival cottage dignified by a temple-like façade. After dropping our daughter off at school one morning, my husband and I walked past a particularly delightful residence extensively renovated by an owner with a romantic streak.

Clad partially in shingles, partially in clapboard, and painted a pleasing shade of biscuit, the house has been made memorable by the addition of an L-shape double-porch that stretches across the street façade and around one side of the building. But instead of deploying balustrades of turned-wood spindles or fancy gingerbread that would have been common around here a century and a half ago, the owners and their architect came up with captivating railing treatment: wood pales rounded at the top, pierced with a single hole, and then set closely together in a manner that provides privacy but without being standoffish.

My husband, who lived in Turkey as a teenager, says it reminds him of yalis, the lacy wood Ottoman houses built along the Bosphorus. To me the overall impression is of a summer house in Eastern Europe, say a dacha located an easy carriage drive away from the bustle of Budapest, the sort of house where white linen is worn when the temperature rises and whose female inhabitants protect their complexions with lace parasols.