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A Coast-to-Coast Look at Quintessential American Porches
The book Perfect Porches was released on March 2, 2010 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House.
This beautiful book, authored by Paula S. Wallace, a fellow porch lover, is a quintessential look at forty American porches.
We are very excited to be telling you about this wonderful book for porch lovers, chock full of porch ideas and stunning porch designs.
If you are a porch lover, you will want this book.
Book cover shown here is reprinted from the book Perfect Porches by Paula S. Wallace.
Copyright (c) 2010 by Paula S. Wallace. Photographs copyright (c) 2010 by Chia Chong and Adam Kuehl.
Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
How Does One Create a Perfectly Wonderful Porch?
The author, Paula Wallace, says,
"If you want to learn how to design your perfect porch, then go look at three dozen other porches!
You fill the treasure chest of your mind with design ideas that commingle and coalesce into something entirely new and surprising.
"I discovered quite a few new ideas while writing the book.
I especially enjoyed seeing how homeowners used fabric and light in surprising ways.
At one home in California, the owner had taken cantina lights and treated the rafters with a gauze, translucent fabric –
which created the most enchanting lighting effects..."
Order your copy now.
It's a really nice gift for a porch-loving friend or family member, too. (Amazon affiliate link for which we may receive a commission)
Q: Take us back to the moment and the view that inspired this book.
Where were you and what did you see before you when the concept for Perfect Porches captivated you?
A: That's an easy one!
The view was from my front porch in Atlanta, at 2201 Montrose Avenue.
It was the home of my childhood, and how happy it was.
It was our stage and our playground, our library and outdoor family room.
On rainy days, my sister Pam and I would turn tables upside down and build our own cozy rooms.
We were Laura and Mary Ingalls, out on the prairie.
That's what our porch was: a portal, into the world, into stories, into the imagination.
And of course, it was about family...
I remember my grandmother's porch, too, in Collins, Mississippi.
We spent summers there.
Actually, there were two porches, front and back.
These were very different spaces in form and function.
The front porch, of course, was for company and visiting.
The back porch was for work – shelling peas, snapping beans and cutting watermelon.
Grandmother's back porch wasn't all work, though.
Sometimes, in the evenings, the front porch turned thespian.
My Aunt Bess never married, and she lived on the farm with my grandmother.
After supper, we would all retire to the porch for our amateur theatricals.
Aunt Bess would help Pam and I hang sheets, and she would operate the spotlight – which, in this case, was a flashlight...
With memories like those, it was only a matter of time before I took on a book project about porches.
In my previous book...
Right: The author's home in Savannah, GA:
Guests gravitate to this second-story aerie, the perfect spot for conversation or an apres-dinner drink.
It's protected from the elements by translucent corrugated roofing above the shuttered ceiling.
Plants, glass vases, paintings and a thick-cushioned Lloyd-Flanders sofa create an appealing and inviting space.
Q: Does the Savannah College of Art and Design teach interior design students how to approach outdoor spaces?
Are they much different from indoor spaces?
A: Absolutely, on both counts.
We're in the midst of the Great Porch Renaissance, and clients want interior designers and architects to create intentional outdoor spaces -
not just for homes, but in any and every kind of structure they might be designing: hospitals, corporate offices, retail spaces.
SCAD probably has more porches, per capita, than any other university in the country...
And of course, sustainable design is integrated throughout the curriculum in the SCAD School of Building Arts.
This includes not only learning to design with sustainable materials, but also creating energy-efficient homes.
And a well-designed porch can reduce energy use in remarkable ways -
keeping direct sunlight off exterior walls and drawing residents outside, which means less television, less air-conditioning, less energy consumption...
A really terrific little chest, armoire, or bench can be the perfect place to tuck things away, depending on the porch's style.
You have to ask more questions when designing a porch.
How can we design the porch to protect residents from afternoon sun?
Is it deep enough to enjoy during a rainstorm? (I think every porch should be deep enough to enjoy in the rain.)
Q: Are your own porches ever truly finished?
A: My porches evolve, transform, and transfigure all the time!
The two porches at our home in the Savannah historic district are a perfect example.
They're both in the book. My husband and I are both designers, so we're revising the porch on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis.
I like to place sofas and chairs at interesting angles to create energy and an artful imbalance.
It seems that people are more willing to join a conversation if there's a point of entry.
I'm always playing with the arrangement of furniture and lighting and décor, like a production designer for a new play...
What, if any, new accessories or design ideas did you discover while making this book that you hope to try in your porch and aerie this spring?
A: You know, the best part of writing a book on interior design is getting to peek inside so many brilliant homes around the country.
They say if you want to learn how to write a novel, then read.
Well, if you want to learn how to design your perfect porch, then go look at three dozen other porches!
You fill the treasure chest of your mind with design ideas that comingle and coalesce into something entirely new and surprising.
I discovered quite a few new ideas while writing the book.
I especially enjoyed seeing how homeowners used fabric and light in surprising ways.
At one home in California, the owner had taken cantina lights and treated the rafters with a gauzy, translucent fabric – which created the most enchanting lighting effects.
The book features a number of porches that use curtains and shutters to shade the sunlight and to create more privacy (especially for city porches that are close to the sidewalk).
And, of course, when it comes to fabric for porch furniture, the Sunbrella company has been a gift from above!
Before Sunbrella, porch furniture was beautiful, but either too fragile, too uncomfortable, or both...
Q: What makes Savannah an ideal home base for this book, and what does Savannah as a city have to teach the rest of the world about porches?
A: Savannah has it all.
Within twenty minutes of the city, you can find every species of American porch:
urban porches, beach porches, rural porches, marsh porches, river porches, grand porches, cottage porches, everything.
There aren't many bad views in the Low Country.
Everywhere you cast an eye, there's something to capture the imagination [in Savannah], whether you are nature-watching or people-watching.
Savannah also has the temperate weather that makes us one of the porch capitals of the world.
Our springs and falls are long and lovely, providing the perfect environment for porch living.
Our great big rainstorms are a spectacle to behold from the front porch.
I must say, though, that I miss the fireflies we had in Atlanta.
That was its own kind of show, silently sparkling in the summer air...
Savannah can always teach the world something about hospitality and entertaining, whether on a porch, courtyard, lawn, or lagoon.
There's a reason they call us the Hostess City of the South...
Entertaining is not something we only do at dinner parties in Savannah.
It's a way of life...
We invite people in. We sit. We visit. We have lemonade, a julep, or our all-season favorite, minted ice tea.
All great porch design starts with people.
The colors, the décor, the art, everything should reflect the porchers’ values, ideals, and spirit...
About the Author, Paula Wallace
Paula S. Wallace is President and co-founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), one of the largest art and design colleges in the United States.
Ms. Wallace co-authored A House in the South as well as a series of seven children's books in the "World" series.
Take a moment and watch our video of "Perfect Porches".