Back in the day, many homes were built with large sweeping front porches. You could sit on a comfortable chair or porch swing and wave or chat to your neighbors as they passed by. You could keep an eye on the comings and goings of the kids as they ran from yard to yard. You could catch up with the mailman as he made his rounds and appreciate the sounds of ordinary life around you. But then, almost imperceptibly over the last couple decades life began to change. Building lots got smaller as we packed more and more people closer together, we spent more time online or driving from place to place as our schedules got busier and busier, there were ever increasing demands on us and our time and so we retreated inside the home or in the backyard where we could get away from it all. The sense of neighborly interconnectedness faded.
Recently however, thanks to a growing sense of isolation due in part to our more digital lifestyle, people are trying to create more opportunities for actual physical interactions within their neighborhoods. There has been an explosion of little lending libraries, food pantries, tool exchanges and community gardens. People are even ripping out front lawns and adding intimate patio spaces in order to reclaim that sense of community.
What follows are a few of my favorite front patio projects, each one a unique reflection of our clients’ different tastes and personalities, each one created from a desire to engage and be a part of the neighborhood around them.
A seating area is cozied up by the front door. An awning allows for contemplating in just about any weather.
Tea For Two
Not a lot of space is need for a bistro table and two chairs. This front garden provides a spot to sit and contemplate the myriad of fruits and vegetables growing and what perhaps, to grow for next year’s harvest.
A Quiet Cul-de-sac
On top of a little hill sits a rustic spot to watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood with enough seating for an impromptu get-together.
Some colorful furniture on a gravel patio creates a nice location to bask in the sun and say hi to those on their daily stroll.
It doesn’t take much to create a spot for family, friends, or neighbors to gather. A few feet of flat space to place a couple of chairs and a table to set a beverage is really all you need. Of course, it helps to have some beautiful plants, some interesting features such as boulders or garden art, and comfy furniture to make it all feel like an inviting place to hang out. And then of course once you have created this gathering space you need to have a willingness to engage with those around you. It doesn’t take much, a nod of the head, a wave, a smile. The simplest of gestures can sometimes lead to a conversation, where you might discover a shared passion, and who knows, a new friendship with your next-door neighbor may blossom. And what could be better than living in a community of friends.