Among all architectural elements columns are possibly the most sensitive to lighting, because their unique shapes are only revealed when just the right combination of light and shade is achieved. In this example, an additional effect is created by the shadows of the beams falling on the columns.
It may appear that the railing is missing from this porch. The point is however, that when designing porch columns you have to achieve a balance between creating privacy and being able to enjoy the view from the porch. Do you have a nice view or are you willing to sacrifice it in order to have a stunning facade?
In the design below, the same type of columns used on the porch is also used inside the house, tying the two elements together. It is absolutely essential, however, that the columns inside are also independently relevant to the space that they occupy. They must perform a certain function and they should not be crowding the room.
Architectural columns that we use today are generally inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. It is often forgotten that in those days columns (as well as statues) were not usually left white. Instead, they were often painted. The design that you see below follows that particular tradition. Adding some color to the columns can help keeping a certain style of the house that you chose, without making a leap to the neo-classical look that is almost inevitably created by columns.
Porch columns have to work well with the entire design of the house. Notice how in this design the columns are well balanced by the external woodwork and the elaborate front entrance door.
In this design, there is very little space to work with, but the columns define the area so well that the small porch is transformed into a grand entrance.
You can notice that the columns in this design are quite simple looking, but they create a backdrop for some very elaborate railings.
Again, lighting is essential. Porch lights should be installed with full awareness of the columns. This way the columns will look very pronounced and "3d" even at night, in the absence of natural light.