Before TV and A/C, homeowners spent a lot of time on their front porch. Today, the front porch has seen a revival and more people are using them as outdoor rooms not just for relaxing but dining and entertaining as well. A front porch does not have to be a big space nor does it require a big budget to be usable. All it takes is some practical styling techniques to make it a warm and welcoming space for family, guest and pets.
Before decorating, the first thing you should do is make sure your porch is in the best possible condition. Invest a little time scrubbing it down using something like TSP (Trisodium Phosphate compound) that is formulated for heavy duty cleaning. TSP will remove deposits of greasy grime, dirt and mildew. You can get it at your hardware store but remember to always test a small area first. Don’t forget to wash the windows. If it’s not time to call in a window-washer, to do your whole house, check out my Quirky Tip below to easily get them sparkling clean.
Next you should examine all aspects of your porch to make sure everything is in good condition and working order. Peeling paint and door mats are obvious ones but items often overlooked are wood rot on columns, light fixtures, your door’s hardware and your doorbell. Most of these items are inexpensive to fix or replace and it will go a long way in giving your porch a polished look which you can now start to decorate.
Upholstery & Furniture
If you are starting from scratch and purchasing furniture consider you
your decision. For maximum flexibility it is best to upholster in solid colors and accessorize with patterns and color. Blue is the natural choice for a nautical setting. For a country setting consider more rustic finishings such as wood and metal. For a pop of color go with brighter shades and for a more relaxed and serene setting choose more subdued tones. Always appropriate are shades of green and bright colors to reflect the color of flowers, such as purple or red. Comfy swings are always a hit and if you have the space consider one the size of a twin bed with a lot of pillows for lounging.
The great thing about pillows is that you can change the look and feel of your space for relatively little expense. If you have classic white wicker and want to create a modern upbeat look, add pillows in striking colors. For a more nature inspired look, mirror your outdoor environment with earthy tones for tree-lined settings and blue and white for sea-side and beach settings. But remember, there are no rules. Decorate with pillows to reflect whatever mood you want to create.
If your porch is too small for a dining table or sofa, you can still create a functional sitting area. Just define it with a rug, use neutral colors, upright chairs and an end table and/or a cocktail table to hold ice teas and cocktails. Hanging plants can also save space. Classic rocking chairs are always charming to look at and a relaxing place to sit.
Speaking of plants, no porch is complete without colorful blooming flowers. Using containers in varying sizes can create a garden-like setting. Consider plants that repel mosquitos such as lavender which is also low maintenance. If you like to cook, consider growing an herb garden on your porch, specifically basil that also repels mosquitos. If it is pretty and wow you want then remember the … first the thrill, then the spill, and and lastly the fill!
Have you noticed that many porch ceilings are painted blue? ‘Haint Blue’ has been popular in the South for centuries and has an interesting backstory. While some believe it wards off evil spirits, others believe it helps banish mosquitos. From a decorators standpoint, blue is perfect for an outdoor space as it emulates the sky and has a very calming effect overall.
Add candles for warmth and citronella to repel bugs. Consider ceiling fans to add a cool breeze and finally for maximum coziness add throws but remember to bring them inside when it rains or buy a throw that is made of sunbrella or crypton yarns!
Your front porch is part of the first impression of your home and is a big factor in overall curb appeal. Done right, it can make your home feel warm and welcoming and be one of the most used spaces of your home during the warm summer months.