Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Inside Outside USA

We're losing this knack, I'm afraid.

A proper entryway, I mean. This one is from Bristol, Rhode Island. With houses fronting right on the street, the builders would wisely elevate the first story a bit to gain privacy for the lower floor from pedestrian traffic. This also allowed larger plantings under the windowsills, and gave a sort of meaning and use to the stairs required to reach the front door.

That's a pleasant place for someone to wait for a response to the bell, or for the house's inhabitants to pause for a moment, set down a package, and reach for their keys. You're in out of any rain or snow, shaded from the sun; whatever the weather you're protected from it a bit.

There is a feeling of transition, which is an important visual cue for humans. Too many houses have something no more elegant or elaborate than a hatch on a submarine for the entry most used by the occupants. And visitors often are left with no visual cue as to where they should go about looking for a door to call at. A home represents a great deal of the values of the occupants and the society they inhabit. Going in and out of it like you're diving out of a plane is not conducive to a feeling of domesticity.

That's a traditional porch ceiling there, painted robin's egg blue. It's another small detail, the color of a clear sky, to blur the distinction between inside and outside, sheltered and abroad. It's like visually putting your toe in the pool before diving in.

Some one should get some trumpet vines going on the trellis, and make a bower to sit in and shell peas on a late summer afternoon, and wave to your neighbors as they walk by or drive past slowly. You'll know exactly what's on their minds, too: I wish I had a front porch like that.

1 comment:

Internet Ronin said...

You are tempting me to post some pictures of my various houses over on my blog some day to further demonstrate this problem.

My current one has a very nice entry but the prior one definitely seemed like an inconvienient afterthought. (In fact, it probably was.)