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A good front porch greets your guests, while a great one welcomes them. View three of our favorite Northern Michigan porches to learn how you can turn your front stoop into the most loved room in the house.

Featured in the April 2021 issue of Northern Home & Cottage.

Big Style, Small Cottage on Walloon Lake

Image by Todd Zawistowski.

When architect Greg Presley turned a small fishing cabin on Walloon Lake into his family’s summer cottage, he knew he’d need to think big when adding on a porch since the home itself is only 800 square feet. Planning to use the porch as the main living area during the summer, Presley designed the porch to be 14 feet deep—deep enough, he says, for chairs to be turned for face-to-face conversation. He also put a roof over the porch so that it could be used even in inclement weather. Another important feature, he says, is the downdraft fan that cools on still, hot days and disperses mosquitoes in the evening. Add comfortable furniture, like this sturdy wicker, to Presley’s list of must-haves for a livable porch.

Functional certainly, but how did Presley make the porch so darn appealing? By going bold and even a bit whimsical with the design elements beginning with the classical 30-inch-tall Greek Revival architrave above the columns. Add to that the white and French country blue trim-work and black-and-white striped furniture cushions, and this porch is a head-turner. Last, but by no means least, is the American flag mounted on one column. Besides its patriotic factor, Presley tells us he especially loves the flag for its red stripes. “Red is the most seasonally seen color,” he explains. “It’s a prominent color that makes a bold statement.”

Home Resources

Paint | Benjamin Moore Cloud White; Benjamin Moore Sunrise
Furniture | Lane
Address Number | Joie de Vie Antiques, Harbor Springs

Rustic Kicked Up in Frankfort

Design | Chuck Beale, Durango Homes
Location | Frankfort

“Porches depend on the style of the house and they need to be functional as well as having curb appeal,” says Chuck Beale, owner of Durango Homes based in Frankfort. To that end, the porch Beale designed on this home in his Sleeping Bear Woods development, just north of Frankfort, is 8 feet wide, effectively creating an outdoor room for this diminutive 1,250-square-foot home. Keeping the elements rustic to match the rest of the cabin-style home, Beale used hand-hewn timbers for the posts and the gable. Small it may be, but the home’s interior sports upscale touches, including granite countertops, custom cabinetry and hardwood floors, so Beale added lux touches to the porch as well, including a rusted steel roof (that looks like copper) and Epay wood decking. The exterior is painted subdued, organic colors both to match the home’s interior but also to blend into its wooded setting. The final touch on a great porch, says Beale, is an inviting path to it—thus the stone pavers and steps and lovely woodsy landscaping.

Image by Todd Zawistowski.

Serene Sophisticate in Harbor Springs

Design | Kelly Konoske, Cottage Company
Location | Harbor Springs

“A good front porch should welcome guests in and give them a snapshot or preview of what to expect when entering the home,” says designer Kelly Konoske. Additionally, she says, the porch should have an inviting ambiance created by elements like flower boxes and plants. “Any greenery that brings the landscape onto the porch is a must.”

The porch Kelly designed for this Harbor Springs’ home does all of the above. Windows with black mullions that contrast with the porch’s white walls, ceiling and millwork details echo the chic modern look of the home’s interior—as does the modern aluminum porch furniture outfitted with linen cushions. Pots of easy-to-grow succulents (they don’t need direct light!) add flourish to the teak coffee table.

The glass-paneled railing system lets in the view, while the space beneath the bottom rail allows easy sweeping of the AZEK synthetic floor that looks like wood but holds up to wet, sandy feet much better. Meanwhile, the classic coastal-style columns with their clean, flat panels frame the view of Little Traverse Bay across the street.

Image by Cottage Company.

Home Resources

Flooring | AZEK Coastline
Paint | Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
Furniture | RH Balmain teak coffee table; RH Balmain aluminum swivel lounge chair with nickel linen cushions; RH Balmain aluminum sofa with nickel linen cushions
Rug | Jaipur Living, Style: Rebecca
Green Pillow Fabrics | Thibaut Bayside
Pillows & Candle Hurricanes | HomeGoods

Find this article and more in the April 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.