Farmhouse Porches and Japanese Engawa Verandas
Updated: Feb 26, 2019
Farmhouse porches and Japanese engawa verandas have many similar characteristics. Both stem from a common cultural trait of enjoying life outside but still doing it from a place of safety. Here we will discuss some of the similarities that both the traditional Japanese architecture of the engawa verandas and farmhouse porches have.
The farmhouse porch can sometimes wrap across the whole front or around to the back of the house. If the houses sat on a hillside then this makes for the perfect viewing spot. The porch provides an opportunity to start the morning with a coffee or tea outside, relax after a long days work, or entertain friends and family. Some porches may be screened in, which may be a necessity if you are in a wooded area with mosquitoes, but most of the time these porches are left open. When I sit on our front porch I often feel like I am more able to embrace the slower pace lifestyle, even though I may have my laptop or cell phone with me.
Porch Fences and Railings
Some farmhouses have a lower fence wrapped around as well, but that is not a necessity. Often these porches are only a step or two above ground and have some type of landscaping along the edges. However, you should check with your local building code to see if it is still mandatory that you have some type of fence.
Porch Ceiling and Floors
Porch ceilings and floors are often overlooked. Doing both in a natural wood look may be the best option if the house color is a solid color. Alternatively, having a lighter color painted ceiling can really brighten the mood. Many houses have a cement or concrete porch, in this case you might want to add some color to the floor to get rid of the common gray porch look.
Porch furniture comes in a wide variety of styles and it’s your job to find the most comfortable modern and rustic blend. If your porch has a very contemporary lock then you might want some more rustic raw wood type of furniture. If you have more of a classic looking porch then you may want to go with furniture that has more sleep curves and lines or something with a few bright colors pop. The addition of color can also always be done with the pillows, which also allows you to change the colors with the seasons.
Depending on how much space you have on your porch you may want to include sofas, chairs, coffee tables, and possibly full dining tables. You may also want to consider a traditional swing or glider. Having a fan on the porch, even though it’s outside, can you be a great way to circulate the air on a hot summer day.
Farmhouse Porch Lighting
Although the lighting theme of your house may already be decided your porch can have its own unique wall-mounted lighting. If it fits, an Asian style might add just a touch of flair to a contemporary rustic farmhouse porch.
At nighttime because of the overhang on the porch, the front door and the front wall is often quite dark. Recessed lighting close to the wall, especially if it’s a wall with texture, will brighten the spot but create a nice look with the shadows it creates as well.
Japanese Porches, Engawa
Similar to farmhouse porches, Japanese engawa verandas also usually wrap around a corner or even more of the house. Often there is no railing and only a step where you are supposed to take your shoes or slippers off if coming up. In Japanese houses you traditionally take your shoes off at the entranceway to keep it clean. You may have slippers for inside but they are for inside use only. Even though the engawa is so open there is still a clear separation of the raw outside world and the inside living area.
Japanese porches are often situated so that you get a perfect view of the Japanese garden of distant view when sitting down. Gardens are sometimes strategically made to be enjoyed from a particular angle of level and sometimes create a specific “picture-frame” type of view.
The Japanese porch often surrounds rooms that have shoji sliding doors that can open up quite a bit to really extend the view from within the house. This brings a constant underlying feeling of the presence of nature. You feel the temperature, wind blowing, views of the current weather, which all keep nature on the mind and show you how connected and affected by nature we are.
In colder times or if a storm is predicted to be coming amados can be added in or pull out more solid doors to seal the whole veranda if necessary.
Kure-en is the gravel drainage path often along the front of the engawa. Japanese roofs are sloped outward and overhang so the rain drains off the roof. A deeper trench is dug, pitched, and filled with gravel to control the water flow.
The Future of Japanese Porches and Farmhouse Porches
Modern architecture has changed the way many homes have been built in Japan, up until recently. From the 80’s and 90’s there was a big push to westernize the look of Japanese homes because they thought it was more modern and worldly. However, recently you are starting to see more Japanese homes being built with a more hybrid Japanese/Western model. They are bringing back the open concept and Japanese porch with modern Japanese gardens and pruned trees to view.
Here is an article on an interesting design trend called Japandi, which is the blending of Japanese and Scandinavian and nordic design styles.
Farmhouse porches are also making a comeback on modern rustic house designs aiming to create an in-between space from the interior ad the outside nature. If you are interested in Modern Farmhouse Styles then check out this article.