A carport is a covered structure, either freestanding or attached to your home, meant to offer some protection to your vehicle from the elements. Because carports are just a frame with support columns and a roof, they’re much more open than garages and can easily take away from your home’s curb appeal if not designed and utilized correctly.
“Carports are kind of becoming a cool thing, especially on mid-century houses,” says Allison Vaccaro, co-founder of brick&batten, a virtual home exterior design service. “In some instances, we think having a carport is almost cooler than having a garage. We’ve even added new carports to some of our recent home designs.”
— Match your carport to the architectural style of your home.
— Be smart about what materials you use.
— Light up your space.
— Add some greenery.
— Keep your space clean.
— Options for enclosing your carport.
Match Your Carport to the Architectural Style of Your Home
You can choose any style of carport, but Vaccaro recommends designing your carport around the architectural style of your home. “Stylistically, we follow the architecture of the house when designing a carport — it can be traditional with lots of heavy trim and molding, or modern and sleek, maybe with a butterfly roof,” she says.
Your carport, whether it’s attached or detached, should be an extension of your home. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it must exactly match. Your carport can be used to either complement the finishes in the home or contrast with it.
Be Smart About What Materials You Use
Wind, rain, snow, cold, heat and sun all affect the condition of your home and can have a big impact on your home’s structure. Weather conditions in your area determine materials that are best suited to that particular environment.
“The architecture of the house and the climate determines what materials we recommend using,” says Vaccaro. “We often use wood in a carport, but we’re also starting to do a lot of iron on our more contemporary designs.”
No matter where you live or the architecture of your home, there are a variety of material choices to fit your personal style. Wood is one of the most sought-after and popular materials to use in a carport. Wood is durable and can last for years even in some of the worst weather conditions.
The materials used to build your carport are a big factor in how much you end up paying. For example, homeowners can expect to pay between $15 and $30 per square foot to have a wood carport installed while materials for a metal carport generally cost between $10 and $30 per square foot.
Light Up Your Space
Adequate carport lighting ensures you won’t run into objects with your car or trip while walking, but it can also enhance its overall visual appeal. “We love to use drop lighting, even in the carport,” explains Vaccaro. “It dresses things up.”
Drop lighting is a single fixture that hangs from the ceiling, usually from a chain, cord or metal rod. Drop lighting can be hung individually or in linear arrangements with multiple pendants and come in a variety of designs to fit your style.
Vaccaro says that lighting can also be used on the column supports for the carport awning, particularly where you enter the space.
Uplighting is another option, which consists of singular light sources at the base of architectural details or points of interest. “Uplighting can be dramatic and a great way to light up the space,” she adds.
Lighting is also an essential part of an effective home security system. Bright lights around the exterior of the home may help deter would-be burglars. “Exterior lighting is smart for security and visibility — plus it’s another chance for homeowners to coordinate with the home’s inherent architecture or to express their personal style,” states Vaccaro.
Lighting comes at various price points. For a pendant light and its installation, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $120 for a basic light to $395 for one of better quality. If you plan to install motion sensor security lights, the price ranges between $350 and $500.
Add Some Greenery
“In addition to making smart materials choices for the columns, interior surfaces, exterior lighting, any doors off of the carport and paint colors, our designers often recommend using planters in or just outside of carports to bring in some natural greenery,” Vaccaro advises.
Because carports offer bright, indirect sunlight, a wide variety of plants should be able to thrive in containers around the carport. Large pots with small trees or shrubs may even be placed in front of the carport pillars. You can also add some natural landscaping around the carport to bring the space to life.
Keep Your Carport Clean
Unlike a garage, there’s no door to hide your personal belongings. “Carports are wide open for the world to see. “Be sure to take into account that everyone can see inside your carport — it’s going to kill your curb appeal if you’re storing things in your carport, so put it all away,” she says.
Vaccaro and her team typically suggest storage solutions within or off to the side of the carport so that their clients aren’t tempted to turn the space into a place to put their stuff.
Options for Enclosing Your Carport
When it comes to enclosing your carport, almost anything can be done. “One element we love to work into the design of carports is privacy screens,” she explains. “They provide visual interest, plus they have the functional use of blocking the view of your car (or) stuff from the street.”
You can also permanently enclose your carport and transform it into a garage. “Making it happen is a matter of framing out the new garage itself, then adding in the motor and all of the stuff that goes into making the garage door functional,” Vaccaro says. “Of course, it’s fun to pick out a new garage door, and it’s something we’re happy to help our clients with.”
Carport conversions are pricey, however. To convert your carport into a garage, prices start at $18,000 and go up from there.
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