When it comes to the most desirable outdoor feature in a newly built house, the front porch will be high on a buyer's list. Those asked chose front porches over patios and even over decks, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington, D.C., trade group. Titled "The New Home in 2015," the report examines how the housing slump will affect what people want in a house in terms of "size, design, features and materials."
But there are plenty of existing homes on the market with front porches, which can serve as midway points between private and public spaces as well as welcoming retreats. Here are some examples, just in time for the lazy summer lounging ahead.
JoAnne Moran, a retired college communications teacher who has taught at Nassau Community College and New York Institute of Technology, raised four children in her 1895 Northport house. Moran, who's lived there more than 40 years, says that while the interior of the home features rounded walls, turrets and original stained glass that is rumored to be Tiffany (though that's unconfirmed), there is one feature that most defines the property for her.
"The porch is the house for me," she says. "It's architecturally perfect, according to my son, who studied historical preservation in college. He says all the wainscoting on the roof, and the balustrades, are original. I've had chamber music concerts here, and the group who played said the curve of the porch was the perfect place to play music."
Moran has hosted four weddings and countless fundraisers here over the years, and says the 12-foot-wide porch, which wraps around three sides of the home, had plenty of room for a 150-person sit-down dinner at her son's wedding.
Originally believed to have been owned by oyster baron Stanley Lowndes, the 15-room home feature custom-built radiators, pocket doors, two staircases -- the one in the foyer is almost 3 feet wide -- and a cut-glass entry door. The house also slopes down to 100 feet of private beachfront, complete with its own boathouse and dock.
Moran still loves to entertain and likes to occupy her porch with company rather than furniture. "A porch doesn't have to be filled, but my aim was to always make people feel comfortable and make people feel relaxed," she says. "I think it's important to share a porch like this. It's lovely to have flowers around, and groupings of seatings. It's a real joy. And, of course, no one has ever walked on this porch without saying, 'Look at this view.' "
Asking price. $1,850,000
Other details. Six bedrooms, 4½ baths, three fireplaces, three stoves, full basement, beach rights, harbor view
Listing agents. Doreen Williamson and Barbara Hinton, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 631-754-4800
ROOM TO GROW
Built in 1908, this Rockville Centre house has an eat-in kitchen and formal dining room, plus a den. But you'll want to spend almost all your time lounging on the wraparound porch.
Owner Rob Pellizzi, a marketing consultant who lives here with his wife, Linda, and two children, Gregory, 22, and Michelle, 20, says that fixing up the home's porch was a labor of love. When the family bought the house in 1999, the front area was screened in and needed to be completely redone. "We ripped out the entire front of the house and built the porch from scratch, leaving the columns, but designing the railings and the stained-glass windows and the transom," he says. "In fact, my wife made the porch's stained glass windows by hand."
The couple also redid the porch floors out of fir and mahogany. Then they used a polyurethane coating with a mahogany wood stain and a special marine finish, normally used to coat and seal boats, to protect the wood from the environment. "It's not easy to keep up these floors," says Pellizzi. "But after we had them all refinished, we wanted to take care of them, like you would take care of a floor. We put a new coat of the marine finish on every couple of years."
When it came to the ceiling, Pellizzi was just as careful about the details. "The ceiling of a porch is traditionally blue, and the floor is traditionally gray, and we ignored all that," he says. "We stained the ceiling instead of painting it, so it's darker in contrast to all the white that's around it, and it's a walnut stain, and it's really different. We like the wood grain." The family also installed dome lights in the ceiling, so the light at night spreads out sideways and filters into the home through the stained-glass windows.
The view from the porch had to be as beautiful as the porch itself, so Pellizzi took care with his plantings. "We've landscaped so the view from the front porch is all trees, and you don't see the houses or the telephone poles when you're sitting on the porch. You just have this great, lush environment. From the porch, the view is great."
Of course, having a porch is about relaxing, not working. The family spends as much time as possible taking advantage of it. "It was always our dream to live in a house with a wraparound porch," says Pellizzi. "Now, the porch is one of our favorite locations for breakfast."
Asking price. $965,000
Other details. Five bedrooms, 2½ baths, finished basement, about 3,200 square feet, 75-by-175-foot lot
Listing agent. Deborah Gerbore, Coach Realtors, 516-322-1374
Erik Mahler, owner of Mahler Realty, bought this Baldwin home for the front porch. In fact, that's been a feature of every home he's owned. "When I bought my first house, I had to buy one with a porch," he says. "It's a great place to relax and to see your neighbors and watch the kids play."
When Mahler renovated this property, he wanted to make sure the interiors were given the respect they deserved. He had all the floors refinished and then restored the chestnut trim throughout the home to its original luster. The bathrooms and master bedroom were all redone, and the kitchen was opened up.
Even with all the exquisite interior work, the front porch remains one of the home's most unusual features. "This porch has a carport," says Mahler. "That makes it unique." It's an old-fashioned convenience that adds to the charm of the whole property, which occupies a full acre.
Mahler, who currently rents out this property, lives in another house with a front porch. "It's outdoor space but still enclosed, and I love sitting there and watching the world go by," he says.
Asking price. $539,000
Other details. Six bedrooms, two full baths, two half-baths, two fireplaces, full basement, five-car garage with a loft, one-acre lot
Listing agent. Erik Mahler, Mahler Realty, 516-223-3111