Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution from Houzz, a leading platform for home remodeling and design.
Make the front porch stairs part of the entry experience, not solely a means to the front door. Here are six ideas to consider when elevating a home’s entryway steps.
1. Lead to the door
The curved shape of these front porch stairs leads guests from the paved driveway to the front door. When designing the steps, Juana Gómez, principal at Lawrence and Gómez Architects, considered the scale and use.
The tall roof over the entry, the wide door and the large light fixtures required stairs that fit the grand scale, Gómez says. She decided on 7-foot-wide stairs that fill the space between the columns and stone piers, and added a wrought iron handrail to repeat the curve of the stairs.
“They are suitable for everyday access, and also leave space for sitting and talking to the neighbors,” she says.
These statement stairs were created from one pouring of colored and stamped concrete. She chose these materials because they were durable and because they complemented the patterns in the stone and the color of the stained wood.
2. Find balance
Staircase size and materials help this coastal Delaware home find balance. Matthew Adler, designer at Echelon Custom Homes, decided to use a wide staircase in the middle of the home to balance out the garages and porch.
For the steps, he picked Fiberon treads and PVC risers because they are durable in an ocean environment and require little maintenance.
“The stairs also needed to tie in with the porches and decks on both sides of the front of the house to give it uniformity,” Adler says.
3. Connect with the landscape
These small steps act as a subtle transition from landscape to homescape, says Peter Budnik, design associate at Wade Weissmann Architecture.
“A handshake is often our first experience of a person; the front few steps are often our first tactile experience of a house,” he says. “And just as a handshake is often the basis of our judgments about a person for years to come, the front steps create a lasting impression that’s remembered on some level throughout the rest of the house.”
To start the story of this home, Budnik used landscape paving to bring the natural surrounds right to the front door. The connection between landscape and house continues with the railing that flares out from the home, welcoming residents and visitors alike. The materials that compose this space, local flagstone pavers and painted iron, integrate the landscape and the architecture, picking up tones from the home’s stone base.
4. Maintain style
Two sets of steps help connect this Boston home to its lush front lawn. To keep with the low-slung gambrel-style roof shapes, the design team chose this step configuration, rather than one tall staircase, says Joanne Powell, associate at Jan Gleysteen Architects. It allows the home to sit up on the elevated plane while providing easy access to the street-level lawn.
The designers continued the connection from landscape to home by using fieldstone in both the risers and wall along the driveway, and bluestone for the stoops, walkway and patio.
5. Focus on a material
The owner of this home wanted to maintain its natural look by using real wood for the stairs and deck, says Michael Squier, project manager at Gable Building. To meet the owner’s wishes, the design features cambara wood, which is similar to mahogany, with PVC risers to create this small staircase.
People like this hardwood decking “for its hardness, rich color, tight grain and knot-free appearance,” he says. “It naturally resists rot and does not splinter, especially if treated with a good penetrating oil.”
The design team paired the cambara with PVC trim because it ree says, making it a perfect wood substitute in areas exposed to water and sun that sit close to the ground.sists sunlight, holds paint well and is easy to work with, Squier says. The PVC also wards off rot and insects, he says, making it a perfect wood substitute in areas exposed to water and sun that sit close to the ground.
6. Be practical
This rustic cottage calls Minnesota home, which means that snow blankets its front porch steps many times per year. Because of this, Samantha Grose, lead designer at JP&CO and Optima Homes, says the design team opted to use smooth concrete for the steps. This makes shoveling the uncovered steps easier.
The team also paired the practical steps with a design that maximizes curb appeal. The designers did this through considering the staircase’s scale, Grose says.
“Often front porches and stairs are undersized, making them look and feel like a last-minute addition to the home,” she says. “You want [the] steps to have some presence.”