Talking Porches & Pergolas

By David Jacknin

The porch pergola wraps this design by The Homestead Partners in dappled sunshine, creating a series of outdoor rooms. Plan 917-12

A pergola is a great addition to a home or outdoor space. Whether attached to your home or freestanding, a pergola helps define a space and add shelter and shade. Pergolas can be used as a family gathering space, poolside pavilion, or as a gateway to your house and can include a bench, a cooking area, or an eating area. They can enclose planter boxes and a garden, or simply form a transition space between inside and outside. Pergolas are especially important in the work of architects Ron Sakal and Sallie Hood, of The Homestead Partners, so I asked them to tell me more.

What is your overall design philosophy?
“We specialize in American regional homes using regional designs and materials but modernized to reflect today’s lifestyles and budgets. Plan 917-12 (shown at the top of the post and here)

is a good example of this. It picks up on regional themes but is more open and modern. We also try to create outdoor living spaces where people can congregate and interact.  This can be seen at the residential scale as well as in our city planning work. Sallie lived in Spain for three years and observed the rich human interaction that comes with a public plaza. Outdoor spaces extend the house and create places for gathering as well as places for seclusion.”  

Many of your designs feature indoor-outdoor spaces. What is your thinking in terms of circulation?  Where do you recommend locating porches and indoor-outdoor spaces?
“We try to create access to indoor/ outdoor spaces from as many rooms as possible.  1st floor, 2nd floor, kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms, if the plan permits we try to include an accessible outdoor living space.  If porch or patio access is not possible we try to at least include a French balcony, a bay window, or corner windows to bring a sense of the outdoors in.”  

How many square feet do you usually allow for an outdoor porch or patio space?
“It depends on the function.  It can be as small as a French balcony or as large as a gathering space for a

small party. Plan 917-8, above, has both. Plan 917-10, below, features a larger outdoor space and includes a

12’6” X 11’7” deck accessible from the second floor living room and bedroom. This would be a good place

for friends and family to gather or to have an outdoor dining room.”

Plan 917-10 is a unique design.  What are the special features of this plan?
“It’s a lot like its little brother, Plan 917-8, but bigger and roomier, with 1 ½ baths, room for a king-size bed, and a 2-car garage. We like the ability to keep two cars at our pied-a-terre. It features generous space for 2 cars, plus work or storage space. The plan includes a lower patio, large upper deck, storage under stairs and a 600-square-foot open plan with high vaulted ceilings and windows on all sides.”  
 
Do you prefer pergolas to a covered porch?
“We like pergolas because they create a sense of enclosure while at the same time allowing light to filter in.  Interior light is a major element of good design. Evenly lit, ambient light makes for the most comfortable interior environments and we try to include windows from as many directions as possible.

Plan 917-13 (above) is a good example. This design includes natural light and views from three sides of every room. For a rainy climate, we like to include fairly shallow covered porches, nearer the house,  to protect an outdoor kitchen, for example, without robbing too much natural light from the interior. But then we add another layer of outdoor space with a pergola.”  

What are some of the other advantages of pergolas?
“Pergolas act as a sundial throughout the day.  As shadows move around the room, the occupant can locate him or herself in time and space.”  

Many of your small house designs are very popular.  What do you think people like about them?
“Cottages, guest houses, pieds-à-terres, studios and offices are very popular now. People appreciate the regional styles, the indoor/ outdoor spaces and the functionality built in to each design that takes advantage of every square foot of living space.”  

Plan 917-11 (shown above) is 192 sq. ft of interior space.  How do you recommend this be used?
“This plan is either a mother-in-law apartment, studio, or perhaps a small rental unit. Build it by itself and it’s a house for just you or pair it with Plan 917-12 (at the top of the post) or 917-13 (in another view, shown below) to create a

home and matching cottage. It features a high volume sloped ceiling, many windows and views from every side. The adjoining pergola shelters the entry and side French doors.”  

If you were to sum up your philosophy in a few words…
“We design every home as a place that we’d like to live in.”   

Tue Apr 25 00:00:00 PDT 2017