Community-focused front porches - Sarah Susanka, Susanka Studios

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Sarah Susanka's Not So Big Showhouse project places the primary living spaces adjacent to the front porch to facilitate movement outside.

July 24, 2012

Note: The plans and photos shown here are of the Not So Big Showhouse at SchoolStreet in Libertyville, Ill., a bungalow-inspired New Urban community of 26 single-family homes being built on a previously foreclosed property. For more, visit



After the tough economic times we’ve been through recently, home buyers have come to value a sense of community and engagement with their neighbors. Many people love the notion of having a comfortable front porch, where they can hang out in the evenings and on weekends and connect with friends and neighbors strolling by, just as it was with communities a century ago.

But no matter how beautiful that porch might be, if it’s separated from the everyday living spaces within the house by a formal living room, dining room, or front parlor, it’s not likely to get much use (out of sight, out of mind).




To facilitate movement outside, the homes at SchoolStreet place the primary living spaces — in this case, the kitchen and eating areas — adjacent to the front porch. By giving every house its own comfortably proportioned front porch accessed from primary living spaces, placing the front porch close to the street, and keeping the width of the street to a minimum so that the two sides feel like part of one environment, the opportunity for those neighborly connections rises dramatically.

Private space is also important, of course, but having the option to move out toward the street to enjoy the neighborhood and each other is an asset that’s hard to put a price on.


Sarah Susanka, FAIA

Susanka Studios



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