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Home Renovation

Design A Stylish Porch For Entertaining

Watching the sunset with a drink in hand is reason enough to have a front or back porch. But a well-appointed porch gives your home extra space for entertaining – and extends our outdoor season on the North Shore well into the fall. Whether your porch is petite or grand, the right furnishings and accessories can turn it into a gathering spot. We've collected some of our favorite porch design ideas to inspire you.

Create An Outdoor Living Room:

Front porch decor greets your guests with a statement of your style. Classic planters and attractive light fixtures create a warm welcome. Furniture with deep cushions makes your porch as comfortable as the living room inside. Even a small porch may have room for a pair of chairs. Include as much seating as possible in your porch design, and you'll expand your living space to accommodate large groups.

Design Ideas For A Small Or Narrow Porch:

If your porch is small, or less than eight feet deep, you may think porch rockers or a bench are the only option. But comfortable chairs with cushions are often less than 30" deep. You can easily fit a pair, or even a row of chairs against a wall. Put a small drinks table between, and your guests can linger for hours.

 

Image Courtesy of Copper Lighting World

 

Tuck a small bench across the end of a narrow porch and instantly create a cozy seating nook:

 

Image Courtesy of Pottery Barn

 

You can even use the bench trick to create a small dining area – just add a small round table in front of the bench, and bring out folding bistro chairs when you're ready to eat.

On a porch that’s narrow but long, create separate seating and dining areas. A dining nook or bistro set at one end can seat 2-4 people. Place shallow furniture against the house, facing outwards, for more seating. Vintage wicker sofas and chairs are perfectly scaled for narrow porches, but you can find modern designs around 30" deep. Measure your porch before shopping so you'll know what will fit.

Small stackable chairs are perfect for entertaining on a narrow porch. Pair them with small tables, or add them to a dining area. These striped chairs from Frontgate are stylish and comfortable:

Striped Stacking Cafe’ Chairs, Frontgate

 

Design Ideas For A Large Porch:

Large porches usually have space for different seating and dining areas. A porch that’s eight feet or wider has room for a dining table and chairs. A long, narrow table can be the ideal solution for large dinner parties. Or, set it up as a serving area for drinks and appetizers.

An outdoor buffet is handy for storing table decor, candles, and serving pieces. To have room for a buffet alongside your dining table, your porch should be ten feet wide. A buffet is also the perfect spot for a vignette of elegant accessories and potted plants. This buffet is made from weather-resistant teak and granite. When you're not throwing parties, it's durable enough to hold plants and flowers:

 

Teak Buffet from Country Casual

 

With an outdoor sofa, loveseat and cocktail tables, a porch becomes a second living room. Look for durable frames in teak, aluminum or resin, with comfortable cushions in Sunbrella or Outdura fabrics that will last for years. Today's outdoor styles even include sectional furniture, so it's easy to find pieces that fit your space perfectly:

 

Chatham Sectional, Pottery Barn

 

Smaller pieces make it easy to rearrange the furniture for different events. Loveseats are very space-efficient (most people won’t sit three-to-a-sofa anyway) and they’re easy to move around. Combine a pair of loveseats with several chairs to create a more versatile seating area - like designer Suzanne Kasler has done on this stylish porch:

 

Design by Suzanne Kasler for Ballard Designs

 

Use area rugs to define different seating areas – they'll also add texture, color and a sense of warmth. A cheerful stripe adds casual flair, while a Persian-inspired rug provides a touch of elegance:

 

Outdoor Persian-inspired rug, Eyely

 

Design Your North Shore Porch For Fall: 

The nicest porches here in Marblehead, Swampscott, and Lynn take advantage of our beautiful Fall weather. If you have room, add an outdoor fireplace so you can enjoy being outside well into the Fall. Enclosing one end of the porch (or adding outdoor curtains) offers some protection from cold breezes.

Even without a fireplace, you can create a warm and cozy glow with candles and lanterns. Look for LED lanterns for long-lasting, safe outdoor lighting.

 

LED Outdoor lantern, Eyely

 

Quilts and blankets are a great way to add a pop of Fall color to the porch, and they'll keep you warm. Sunbrella makes outdoor throws that are warm and washable, so you can leave them outside. Add a covered basket or storage trunk to keep extra quilts and pillows handy.

 

Sunbrella Outdoor Throw

 

No matter what size or shape porch you’re working with, our design tips will help make it comfortable and inviting. A porch that's as well-appointed as your interiors will beckon your guests outside to enjoy the fresh sea air.

Do you love the charm of a classic porch? Sagan Harborside Realty has been matching porch-lovers to amazing homes with porches for years. Give us a call at 781-593-6111 to find your dream home on the North Shore of Boston.

 

 

New Construction or a Renovated Home, Which Is Best For You?

Choosing between a newly-built home or a renovated home? Don’t just make lists of pros and cons. Sometimes, the heart wants what it wants – and you just fall in love with a house. Or a village, or a beach. Depending on where you live, one type may have a distinct advantage over the other. We’ve put together a short guide – hopefully, it’ll help your house search head in the right direction.

1. Price

For many years it was typical for new construction to cost more than an older home, but that’s not necessarily true today. With cheaper building materials and efficient production, brand new homes can be built at affordable prices.

Renovated homes sell at premium prices if they’re close to a city center, on the water, or convenient to popular shopping or dining districts. The price of a renovated home will reflect its location and any work that’s been done to restore it. Remember – older homes are expensive to maintain, so any repairs and improvements made by the seller will save you money in the long run.

New homes that are being built as infill in older neighborhoods often command the highest prices – they offer both a great location and new construction features.

2. Location

Location is probably the biggest factor in home-buying decisions. Your brand-new dream house might be miles away from your favorite neighborhood, and you have to prioritize.

Many close-to-the-city neighborhoods are experiencing a renaissance as people move in and fix up older homes. Older neighborhoods are more likely to have mature trees, sidewalks, shops you can walk to, and larger yards. And with shorter commute times, prices are going up.

If you’re looking to buy in a historic area or waterfront property, often the only homes for sale are older, renovated homes.

Source: Rick Harris

If you’re determined to have a brand new house, you’ll have to buy a home in tear-down condition and build new – keeping in mind that this will be an expensive process.

Another source of new construction in older neighborhoods are in-fill projects. Developers buy two or three old homes to tear down and build several homes that are closer together. Lot sizes are usually much smaller than surrounding homes – but they’re ideally located.

3. Floor Plans

New construction homes offer popular features like open-plan kitchens, large master bathrooms, high ceilings, and large closets. If you work with a builder from the beginning, you can choose your interior finishes like countertops, flooring, and cabinetry.

 

Source: The Designory

You’ll often find these features in older homes too, but even a renovated home will have its limits. Master suite additions are common in renovated houses; but not every home can be remodeled to an open plan design. If an open layout is a must-have, it may be easier to find in a new development.

Older homes may not have every modern amenity, but you’ll find traditional features like a formal dining room, a butler’s pantry, a screen porch, or library.

Consider whether these areas can be re-purposed, or opened up to improve the floor plan. If you have your heart set on a certain older neighborhood, look at every listing with an open mind. A quick meeting with an interior designer can help you figure out a home’s potential before you buy.

Source: Big Old Houses

4. Construction:

New homes must meet modern building codes – this includes safer wiring, proper insulation, and ventilation. Some new houses are extremely energy-efficient, but every builder is different. Energy-efficient windows and improved exterior finishes dramatically reduce maintenance. Find out what construction methods are best for your climate, and check with your builder before making a final decision.

Depending on where you live, older homes that have been renovated may or may not be required to meet the newest codes. Upgraded wiring? Finished basement? Ask for specifics and get an inspection before you purchase a renovated home. Heating and cooling systems should definitely be upgraded to modern, high-efficiency equipment.

The upside of buying an older home is superior craftsmanship. Walls may be lathe and plaster; paneling and shelving might be walnut or redwood, and floors typically solid oak. Even mid-century homes are well-built with brick facades and solid wood cabinetry. Exterior features like wood siding and porches add plenty of charm, but they’ll need ongoing maintenance.

So should you buy brand new? Adopt an older home? Think about your desired lifestyle, your family’s needs, and the location that will be the best fit. After that, you just may surprise yourself. 

If you need help choosing, Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty has over 70 highly agents who can guide you through the decision-making process.

 

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bench facing harbor with moored boats

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