The lost art of porch sitting...

By
Real Estate Agent with Real Estate One

This article originally was written for my July-August Newsletter, which I print and send out to abourt 350 past customers and people whom I’ve met one way or another in my real estate career. Although lots of people like to read blogs on-line many of my Newsletter readers tell me they prefer to have a paper newsletter that they can put on the nightstand and read a little at a time.

My house We are fortunate to live in a house with porches. I have a big, wrap-around porch on the front of the house and a smaller “sun porch” on the back side. My historic home was built in 1885, but the porches were likely added later. There was a time when sitting out on your front porch and watching people go by was considered a nice pastime, especially on lazy summer afternoons.

As a society, we’ve sort of lost touch with that pastime it seems. Perhaps the pace of our lives has become such that we don’t feel that we have time for such an indulgence; but I suspect that air conditioning is mainly to blame. People move inside, close up the house and turn on the air when it gets too warm. I’ll admit that I do, too. Big front porches sort of fell out of favor as a design feature sometime in the 60’s. There have been a few "retro-look" developments that brought back the front porch in an attempt to recreate the look and feel of old neighborhoods. There's one in Novi that I drive past occasionally and another down in Plymouth that I've shewed houses in.

On those days in the Spring and Fall (and on occasion in the summer) when it’s not too hot, it’s still great to be able to go out to the front porch (which is screened-in to keep the bugs away) and just sit there and read or watch the world go by. I’ll admit also that I installed an overhead fan on my porch, so I can create a breeze when none exists.

Our porch is big enough to entertain on, with room for both of our children and all of the grandchildren when they come tomy front porch visit. We have to drag a few chairs out for those occasions, but everybody has a place to sit and the grandkids still have lots of room to play. There’s even an old fashion porch swing on which we keep a large stuffed teddy bear.

On the south side of the front porch we’ve put a nice little table where the grandkids can sit and color or maybe have a snack. In the corner by the front door is our little menagerie—two giraffes, a camel, a hippo and an elephant. The grandkids love those, too.

So, if you happen to be strolling by my house and see me out there, wave and say hi. I might even invite you up to “sit a spell”; maybe even have a beer; just don’t feed the animals.

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 Norm Werner

Real Estate One

 

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Rainmaker
266,704
Jay Beckingham
Premier Nationwide Lending - Port St Lucie, FL
"I love first time homebuyers"

the front porch, truly an American treasure.

 we were fairly close to the sidewalk which sported 3 large maples, so we could talk with those passing on the sidewalk. we had a swing for 3, usually one adult and 2 littler ones, and on those quiet, brisk mornings, a cup of coffee, and those semi silent evenings a good cigar.

thanks, for stirring the memories.

Jul 23, 2012 05:45 AM #16
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Amanda and Jared Christiansen, YOUR Fort Wayne Realtors
Century 21 Bradley (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Century 21 Bradley.

I'd love to come sit on your porch.  Where is the plug in so I can charge my Ipad?  Just kidding.  :)  We have a patio out front with two bird feeders and plenty of flowers and plants.  It's nice to sit out there and chat with our neighbors. Very nice post. 

Jul 23, 2012 05:56 AM #17
Rainmaker
447,867
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Norm, I live in a neighbourhood where it still isn't uncommon to see people out sitting on their front porches. I have met a lot of my neighbours by walking to the corner store and saying hello. I guess that's one of the benefits of living in a smaller town.

Jul 23, 2012 06:01 AM #18
Rainmaker
524,671
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

I just love porches.  If I had only one (you have 2), I'd make it my office.  Tranquility of hearing birds etc. can really make the imagination flow when you're trying to write for 350 people. 

Jul 23, 2012 06:13 AM #19
Rainmaker
107,967
Tinker Hulsey
Century 21 Wright-Pace Real Estate - Jonesboro, AR
Century 21 Wright-Pace Real Estate

Norm,

It is so nice to stop and smell the roses.....something I don't think we do as much as we should. I'm a southern girl, so front prches have always been my favorite.  Good Post!!

          Tinker

Jul 23, 2012 06:27 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,348,623
Richie Alan Naggar Author PEARLS SERIES of books
People first then business! Ran Right Realty Riverside, Ca - Riverside, CA
on LIFE and LOVE plus Real Estate too!

This remains one of my favorite subjects....the value from sitting, greeting, relaxing, and just absorbing the front porch aura and dynamics cannot be calculated...it must be lived to appreciate....I got a beauty back porch with shade, BBQ and views that pay off every day in gold...thank you

Jul 23, 2012 06:39 AM #21
Rainmaker
242,438
Norm Werner
Real Estate One - Milford, MI
Helping the first time and every time

Thanks all for your comments. I love to sit out on my porch. I've got WiFi that reaches out there and there is a plug where you could charge your iPad; however, I have a tendency to put the iPad and iPhone aside (as much as that can be done in real estate) and just enjoy the peace and quite and the people and cars that come by. For those who commented that you, too, have a porch to sit on, you know what I mean.

Jul 23, 2012 07:46 AM #22
Rainer
136,154
Brent & Deb Wells
RE/MAX Four Corners - Prosper, TX
Your Collin County Realtors

Hi Norm, 

Loved this post. We have porches as well and do sit out on them and read. I felt your pain when you mentioned not sitting outside when its too hot. What do you guys consider too hot? We had 100 days of over 100 degrees down here. I was NOT using my porch at that time. Thats just a tad bit too much heat...

-Brent

Jul 23, 2012 07:53 AM #23
Rainmaker
295,582
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

You're post makes me wish for the good old days of porch sitting.  Sounds very relaxing.

Jul 23, 2012 07:56 AM #24
Rainmaker
313,960
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Norm, we had porches at my dad's house, not screened in though. And yes it is a lost art of not knowing your neighbors.

Jul 23, 2012 08:12 AM #25
Rainer
204,570
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h
I'd love to sit a spell with you on that great porch. I've never had a home with a porch but I've always liked the idea.
Jul 23, 2012 08:14 AM #26
Rainmaker
343,471
Dawn Maloney
RE/MAX Haven - Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist - Hudson, OH
330-990-4236 Hudson Stow Cuyahoga Falls Silver Lak

You have definitely taken sitting on the porch to the new millenium...I'm going to take a cue from you on that. Heading outdoors now. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jul 23, 2012 09:40 AM #27
Rainmaker
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Gene Mundt, Chicago-area Mortgage Lender - www.genemundt.com
NMLS #216987 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 37 yrs experience

Norm:  Funny and rather ironic that you write this piece today.  My wife and I were having this conversation just over the weekend.  Both of us remember using our porches as kids alot ... and I mean ALOT.  The newer homes in our area lack porches so many times.  But our subdivision still gets the job done ... they just sit in their garage openings.  The new version of porch sitting???

Gene

Jul 23, 2012 09:44 AM #28
Rainer
81,703
Iris Stuart
none - Santa Rosa, CA

Norm, you've brought up a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I've never lived in a house with a great porch.  We had a stoop, and we spent plenty of summer evenings sitting there, chatting with neighbors as they passed by and enjoying the neighborhood.  But 5 years ago we moved into my late mother-in-law's home to help care for her.  Her home was build in 1914 and has this wonderful, huge, front porch.  I've spent a lot of time on the front porch and its one of the things I will miss about this home when we sell it.  I've been giving thought to how I can add a porch to the front of my home in Santa Rosa when we return as I've come to appreciate the experience of porch sitting so much.

Jul 23, 2012 10:26 AM #29
Rainmaker
576,053
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(808) 226-1095 or (831) 626-4000
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Norm: There are several variations of the porch, like a LANAI which is often screened in because of those pesky bugs. My earlier memories had one of those, actually on a slab, and we had one of those acorn fireplaces in the center with a seating area around. Spent many great evenings there. Currently I have a big deck complete with BBQ, but not covered or screened, for using during the day. When the bugs come out, I go in.

Jul 23, 2012 10:52 AM #30
Rainmaker
295,454
Bud & Beth McKinney
RE/MAX UNITED - Cary, NC
Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United

Porch-sitting. It really is a lost art. Nice to be reminded that every so often, we should get out and just enjoy the outdoors. Thanks for sharing.

Jul 23, 2012 12:22 PM #31
Rainmaker
242,438
Norm Werner
Real Estate One - Milford, MI
Helping the first time and every time

I suppose the porch is somewhat metaphoric. The point is, whether you have a porch, a patio, a deck , a lanai or a garage to sit on or in, get out and sit a spell. And sit without the iPhone pressed to your ear or the iPad in your lap. No texting allowed. Just sit and watch the world go by. There is great, refreshing power in just doing nothing for a while and possibly having the opportunity to connect with a neighbor or a passer-by.

 

Jul 23, 2012 01:13 PM #32
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John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com - Albuquerque, NM
AlbuquerqueHomes.com, Albuquerque Homes Realty

Norm... Ah the memories of my Grandparents front porch. Many good times there. Wife Debbie says she misses her southern porch more than anything else.  She enjoyed a 14 x 62 front porch for 30 years.  Now that's a real porch!  In the southwest we don't really have porches we have courtyards with a small covered area at the front door.

Jul 23, 2012 09:04 PM #33
Rainmaker
567,278
Gary Frimann
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
California Broker and REALTOR

Ah, the porch...  I think kids in the neighborhood were better behaved when everyone had a front posrch.  Just a thought...

Jul 24, 2012 10:17 AM #34
Rainmaker
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Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Hallmark Realtors - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Good morning, Norm - I just had the same thought this morning as I sat at the computer to drink my coffee. My porch is lovely - and I've been ignoring it. Until right now :) See ya!

Jul 28, 2012 05:31 AM #35
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