Every time we walk into any home, there is one feature of the house that attracts our attention; there is one characteristic that makes us instantly gravitate to that part of the home. It’s either a quaint corner where one can sit to read a book or a tiny little window to peek out and watch the world outside, a rocking chair by the window, a traditional swing in the living area, a kitchen garden, a balcony or a verandah.
“Every time I enter a home, the first thing I see myself gravitating to is a verandah. To me, it’s my comfort zone; it’s a place I find solace in, a place of relaxation.”
If a home doesn’t have a verandah, a feeling of uneasiness sets in. Of the many homes that I have visited, I have realised that the way a verandah is designed makes a lot of difference to the home.
THE ESSENCE OF A VACATION HOME
Why do we design a vacation home? The reasons are crystal clear. Every vacation home is designed with the specific intention of escaping from the urban spaces. Our urban spaces, our closets, and our rooms are small. Space in cities like Mumbai is sparse; it is as small as it can get. Moreover, we have restricted access to open outdoor space. So, when someone plans to own a vacation home, the outdoors is what they look out for.
Designing a vacation home is not about creating fancy RCC constructions; no one wants those two-floor constructions. Our urban life has already fallen prey to the concrete jungles. Everyone wants open spaces, open courtyards, and verandahs become the most essential spaces in this reference.
THE POWER OF A VERANDAH
The concept of verandahs, balconies or sit-outs is universal, observed everywhere, from extravagant palaces to village cottages. Besides bringing openness to the home, a verandah also provides a connection between the inside and the outside. Everyone loves verandahs because they create a more homely feel, make the home exquisite and cosy and most importantly, enhance the look of any home.
ADDING AN AESTHETIC TOUCH TO THE VERANDAH
In every holiday home, the width and length of the verandah are important. What is even more important is the framing of the verandah, the framing of the view from the verandah. The first thing one needs in a verandah is visual framing of what you see from that space. When someone sits in the verandah and looks out and sees the full sky, they tend to feel uneasy. However, the moment a sloping roof is added to the verandah, in such a way that it cuts off a large part of the view, it gets one to focus their attention on a limited area and frames the view in front of them.
This feeling of uneasiness is similar to the one someone experiences while lying down on a bed in a large bedroom with a tall ceiling. However, when a poster bed is added to the same room, it helps frame the view, and even in a spectacularly large bedroom with tall ceilings, one starts feeling comfortable and cosy.
The verandah, too, needs to be designed in such a way that when one sits comfortably in the verandah at a distance, they get a framed view of the open sky or open space ahead.
“A cinemascope view or a wide-angle is what one should get to see. That is precisely what the verandah should be known for — spectacular views well framed by a sloping roof.”
LOVE THY VERANDAH
Depending on the style of a home, whether contemporary or classic, modern or nostalgic, adding just the right style of verandah can turn around the way home appears. Some of the homes treat the verandahs with special love and care. Adding a special flooring, using unique pieces of outdoor furniture like a swing or a couch, a coffee table, or a simple bean bag, and some potted plants can get this quaint space to take your heart away.
VERANDAHS IN OUR URBAN SPACES
Despite our building rules allowing us to have semi-covered spaces, which are not a part of the FSI norms, verandahs seem to be vanishing from urban setups. In cities, people prefer living indoors due to pollution and noise issues, rising temperatures, and security concerns. However, I often wonder what’s stopping us from creating as many verandahs as possible, with FSI norms supporting the same. Our number one focus area while designing the house, whether in urban spaces or holiday homes, should be verandahs and semi-covered spaces. A well-designed verandah or semi-covered spaces gives a new dimension to any concrete structure and contributes to making a house a home. Time to go ahead and explore this unique section of your house.