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Front porch face-lift capitalizes on small space

Francisca Alonso enlarged the foyer of her McLean home, put in a porch and enhanced the curb appeal, all by adding just a 60-square-foot bump out.

The once traditional colonial now has a craftsman-style facade and a grander entrance. "Now we have a covered porch to enjoy, a larger foyer, and great views of the front yard and landscaping," said Alonso, co-owner of AV Architects and Builders. "Everyone loves it."

Alonso said she, like many of her clients, had family and guests who avoided the front door and entered the house from the side or garage entrance. She wanted the front entrance to become a focal point and "not just a hole in the wall."


Restricted by a front setback requirement that allowed only a 9-foot expansion and second-floor windows, Alonso sought to update the exterior without having it clash with the home's colonial style.

"You don't want the new portion to stick out like it just landed there from Mars," she said. "We chose the materials with that objective in mind."

Although the porch's metal roof differs from the architectural shingles of the rest of the home, the colors match. The stone on the porch is similar in shape, size and color to the existing brick. The finish on the new front door matches the stain on the existing windows.

Also, the stone of the porch flooring ties in with the stone used on the walkway to the driveway. "The pattern used is the Versailles Pattern, and that is what we have in the kitchen and breakfast room in the house," Alonso said. "The indoor and outdoor tiles flow nicely."

Alonso brought in landscape designer David Marciniak, owner of Revolutionary Gardens, to integrate the new exterior with the front yard.

"We wanted the landscape to feel scattered and unorganized, however, orchestrated," Alonso said. "I remember telling Dave that I wanted a garden to seem random and organized at the same time. He understood perfectly what I meant, and that is what he designed."

To create that feeling of thoughtful randomness, Marciniak designed a walkway in a "hop-scotch" pattern with Tennessee Flagstone that is not a curve and not a straight line.

"It's very important to consider the landscape design at the same time as an exterior renovation," Marciniak said. "While I didn't see a need to recommend changes to Francisca's design, the fact that I was brought in before they broke ground meant I could have pointed out opportunities to make the house and the landscape work better together."

A couple of Japanese Maples and a Hinoki cypress tree highlight the front yard garden, with a layered planting scheme that allows the perennials and azaleas to really stand out.

"As you walk from the driveway to the porch, you really experience the colors and shapes of the front walk," Marciniak said. "The flow of the lines of the plantings, and the end result is that you really want to spend time on the beautiful front porch."