New front porch/steps

socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24June 15, 2014

My front steps/porch will be removed during foundation replacement so I have the opportunity to change the design when they are rebuilt. I want to use the same materials (cement with iron railing) to avoid trouble with the city historic review board, but a lighter color of cement (pinkish is typical in this neighborhood for the older Spanish style houses). All of the existing plants near the foundation and porch will be removed during the foundation repair.

The current porch/walkway design fits with the house and nicely defines the rear edge of one flowerbed (between driveway and porch/side back of house) but wastes space that I'd rather use for more plants. The porch is large (94 by 140 inches) and a big bare space. It gets too hot for potted plants, especially since it is painted dark red and holds the heat well into the evening. I never sit out there. To me, the only purpose for this porch is to have someplace to stand once you reach the top of the steps. Another problem is that the current design of the walkway makes the bed between the house and the steps/walkway fairly narrow.

Steps straight from the door to the driveway would maximize gardening space but I don't think it would look good because that would leave a strange garden "inlet" to their left (looking from the driveway). I want to be sure that the new position of the railing doesn't intersect the window that faces the street. I want to be sure the mailman can reach the mail slot (to the right of the front door).

I'd appreciate ideas, or criticism of my idea. I'll attach more photos and drawings of the existing layout and my idea in the following posts.

p.s. If anyone can think of a way to put an awning or something similar over the front door without it looking like it was just stuck onto the house that would be marvelous!

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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Another view

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 7:58PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

View from street

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 7:59PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Lot plan. The 8 little squares between the steps and the driveway are 12x12 pavers (there are actually 10 of them, not 8)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:01PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

My idea for a curved porch. The current rectangular porch is shown by the dotted line.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:03PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Your narrowed redesign with the curve leaves a narrow, awkward space at the wall, and isn't a good design detail from a usage or construction standpoint. I think the existing layout works well with the house design, and if sun and heat are the issues, would you consider adding an arbor over the area to create shade? The arbor could use members sized to relate to your extended roof rafters, Spanish Colonial style, perhaps with Saltillo tile pavers to replace the colored concrete. Otherwise, there are plants in larger sized containers that would be perfectly happy with the heat. Succulents such as Crassulas, Cotyledons, Echeverias, Kalanchoes, or heat loving plants like Plumeria, Euphorbia tirucallii 'Sticks on Fire', Pelargonium peltatum, etc.

Alternatively, if you added a new narrow tree between the driveway and porch to give some shade, such as Callistemon viminalis 'Slim Jim' or Tristania laurina, Agonis flexuosa 'After Dark' or Acacia subporosa, it would help shade your entry.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:24AM
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I'd do an awning that matches your roof shape & materials.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:41AM
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It looks like there is a shallow enough pitch to the roof that you could extend the main roof over the porch, keeping the same pitch. It would be nice to have a small tree providing shade for the roof, making the porch a little more hospitable.

The plan that you show of shrinking the porch and relocating the steps is only something you would want to do if you are hellbent on making your house worth less. It is neither a good idea nor would it look good. All that is needed is greatly improved landscaping. With all of the plantings being so short, it gives your house that mobile home and RV park look. It would be good to cover the mulch with groundcovers and get things looking green or colorful.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:10AM
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