The Atlantic Cities blog this month takes a look at a quarterly home design trend survey from the American Institute of Architects.  Apparently in hard economic times, homeowners have different priorities when it comes to what they want from their house:

Most of us can recognize a product of the 1990s McMansion boom when we pull into a subdivision and see one. But these trends suggest that 10 years from now, a keen eye will be able to identify the homes that were built – or renovated – during the recession. Their hallmarks? Infill location, simpler detailing and more durable, low-maintenance exteriors. And porches. People are pretty into porches right now.

“I always interpret it as of one of the obvious manifestations of the New Urbanism movement, where there was more outward emphasis on homes integrated into a larger community, homes where people would interact more with their neighbors, going back to small-town living,” Baker says. “Rather than isolation and security and safety, where everyone had their own privacy, their own big yard with big fences around it, where they were trying not to interact with others.”

The rise of the porch, in other words, may suggest a decline of interest in the heavily fortified privacy that was promised by the McMansion.

The article also explores how demand for amenities inside the home are changing as well.  Apparently towel warmers don’t seem quite as important these days.  It’s well worth the read, here.

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Ashley Trim, assistant editor of Front Porch Republic, grew up in rural Southern California (yes there is such a place) just outside the town limits of Pearblossom in a home designed and built by her father.  She studied Government at Patrick Henry College.  After receiving her BA, Ashley spent a year working in Washington, DC, before moving back to California to pursue her MPP at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.  There, she had the opportunity to work with Professors Gordon Lloyd and Ted McAllister on a variety of research projects with a strong emphasis on government theory and history. She graduated in April of 2009 and spent a year teaching in the public middle school back in her hometown.   In the few hours a day she spent with students, Ashley attempted to awaken interest in exploring foundational principles the system too often ignores.  Currently she is back at Pepperdine as Research Coordinator for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership which seeks to support local-level governments in developing legitimate civic engagement processes for residents of the local community. Ashley’s childhood was shaped by road trips with her parents and siblings. Her father is a self-employed house painter, and her mother was a full-time home educator.  When Ashley was growing up, the family had several opportunities to pack the minivan with painting supplies and school books for months at a time while Dad worked on old houses in various parts of the country.  Such excursions furnished Ashley with an early sensitivity to and appreciation for the divergent and often eccentric communities that make up these United States.


  1. Interesting. It may simply be part of a short term trend. It could also be connected to a rise in gated communities.

  2. Now drive around and observe how many of those porches are being used.

    Now do the same for the balconies in the newly constructed urban mixed use areas.

    perhaps one out of a 1000 is being used during peak hours when use would be most likely to occur. Or at least that is my observations from having done it on a number of occasions.

    Of course not building a balcony is financial suicide even though it will never be used because what people romanticize using is not the same as their actually using it.

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