Add Style to Your Home and Boost Curb Appeal With a Small Portico

Draw attention to your front door with a stylish portico that mirrors your home's architecture.

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Porticos are small porches defined and protected by a column-supported roof. The simple frameworks run the gamut including streamlined modern portals, classic colonial structures, and ornately detailed Victorian affairs. Porticos offer homeowners (and doorbell-ringing guests!) benefits aplenty. A portico adds dimension to a flat facade, highlights a home's entry point, and improves a home's overall curb appeal. The roofed porch provides a pleasing connection between indoors and out and shelters incoming visitors from inclement weather. Some porticos boast roofs supported by brackets installed on a home's exterior rather than by columns set into a porch deck; others, like those on brick bungalows or stucco-clad French chateaus, are integrated into a home's architecture, often appearing as inset entry alcoves. Since there are as many portico designs as there are architectural styles, consider the following strategies when adding or updating a portico to make sure it enhances your home's innate beauty.

Portico Designs: Do Your Homework

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Identify your home's style by perusing shelter, remodeling, and architecture publications and websites to find homes similar to yours. Knowing your home's architectural style will make it easier to determine the type of portico and decorative details that will flatter your residence. Rip or print out images featuring porticos that appeal to your eye and match your home. Whenever possible, porticos should duplicate your home's roof's pitch and eave and fascia details and showcase materials, such as brick or stone, that appear on your home's exterior. Share the images with a building professional and determine which option (or collection of details) suits your home and budget. If you're happy with the existing steps and stoop, the project can be as simple as setting columns and framing a roof. But, if you're installing a whole new portico, you'll also need to allocate funds for relandscaping adjacent areas. Simple porticos can be erected by do-it-yourselfers with expert carpentry skills, but porticos with stacked stone or brick steps might require the help of a mason. Before building or updating, take your plans to your local building inspector's office to get proper permits; if possible, ask inspectors to review your plans before submitting them for permits. This allows you to adjust the plan per their recommendations, which in turn ensures the project and subsequent inspections will go smoothly.

Create Balance

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Whether you're adding a portico or just reviving an existing structure, make every decorative detail and functional form count. Choose columns, posts, and pillars that harmonize with your home's architectural style and that are proportionate to your home's facade; too-wide columns can cause an entry to appear ungainly; too-thin supports create a slapdash look. Design your portico to properly frame your entry door while leaving upper-level windows unblocked. Massive doors framed with elegant sidelights call for broad and deep porticos featuring multiple columns, substantial molding details, and flat roofs featuring style-apt railings that create a balcony-like profile. Consider fashioning a style-apt foundation by building a porch deck and steps from bricks, stacked stone, or durable cedar or redwood planks. Upgrade existing concrete stoops and steps with easily applied outdoor tiles and slate, brick, or stone veneers that take their cue from your home's color palette and stonework.

Captivate with Details

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Beef up an old or a new portico's presence by incorporating period-apt millwork, such as dentil or fluted molding, fish-scale or beaded-board siding, exposed or open-tail rafters, and embellishments such as friezes, spandrels, gingerbread, and brackets. Give your portico singular character by capping it with a roofing material that differs from the main roof; use copper, aluminum, or steel roofing, clay or cement tiles, or cedar shakes to define the portico. Paint the portico's millwork in a color contrasting with your home to make the structure stand out. Set out colorfully planted containers that frame the steps and mark your home's entry. A portico should always capture attention and draw foot traffic to your front door.

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