Growing up in Kansas as the oldest of seven children, Genise Vernon spent countless hours on her family's front porch. The porch was a place for relaxation, time with family and to socialize with friends from school.
After living in her Lake Oswego home for a few years she missed the camaraderie of a front porch. Her two children - ages 6 and 7 - often play in the front yard of their dead-end street and Vernon wanted a cozy place to watch them.
'We wanted to stay with the style of the house - the inside is traditional - and we're from the mid-west and porches are big in the mid-west,' said Vernon. 'You get used to them.'
And as her children grew up she knew she wanted them to have the same experiences on a front porch as she did as a child.
In the summer of 2002 the family teamed up with James Haldors, a Lake Oswego builder, to add character to their 3,000-square-foot, box-shaped home.
Before, the home entryway lacked pizzazz. The front yard sloped, had little grass and was unused. A cement and pebbled pathway connected the garage on the right side of the home to the front door.
An all-American front porch was designed for the facade with classic columns, places to sit and plenty of room. Overhead can lights spotlight the area for evening gatherings. Wood stairs lead to the oversized porch and replaced the cement walkway.
'I wanted it big enough so I could have chairs out here and still have room for people to walk around,' said Vernon.
She also didn't want railings.
'(We) wanted to sit out here. It's so much nicer to not look at the top of a railing; every time you sit that's what you look at,' said Vernon. 'I didn't want to feel enclosed.'
Instead, Vernon said she wanted to look at her kids play in the safety of their neighborhood. Dark wicker chairs from Pier 1 Imports, rugs and hanging flower baskets create stylish sitting areas. Bright striped pillows give a modern twist to the traditional furniture pieces.
At the far end of the porch sits a bench swing that once belonged to Vernon's grandmother. The swing was painted from its turquoise-green color to a chocolate brown to match the wicker furniture.
The once overlooked entryway now seems show stopping and sophisticated.
'You hardly find front porches anymore - ones you can really use. It seems like a lot of them are just for aesthetic purposes,' said Vernon. '(I use mine) a lot in the early evening when the sun goes back behind the house, with a cool breeze. And sometimes (the neighbors) come over for a glass of wine.'