NEW YORK – Aug. 14, 2014 – The porch is making a triumphant return decades after it began fading from the U.S. architectural landscape. The Census Bureau reports that 63 percent of new single-family homes completed last year had porches – an increase from 42 percent two decades earlier.

"The wealthier we feel, and the more feature-rich we desire our homes to be, the more likely they are to have a porch," says Ed Hudson, marketing research director of the National Association of Home Builders' Home Innovation Research Labs.

The return of the porch also indicates a desire for social connection, says Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture. Stern made porches the hallmark of homes in Celebration, Fla., the master-planned community he helped design for the Walt Disney Company in the late 1990s. His contention is that a porch "friendlies up the house."

In the luxury-housing niche, meanwhile, porches are being designed as fully functional outdoor rooms that feature everything from built-in speakers to solar and wind-activated awnings. Cage-like screens have been replaced by fine mesh made of bronze or vinyl-coated aluminum.

Some homeowners are also installing radiant-heat panels in porch floors and ceilings to make them habitable even in the colder months. Even "decks" are being re-christened as "porches," particularly in high-end home design.

Source: Wall Street Journal (07/25/14) P. M1; Gamerman, Amy

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