Step Outdoors and Design a Porch That You’ll Love to Use

Porches are enviable design features for a home, but decorating one comes with its challenges.

If your porch is a little underutilized, here are some ideas on how to get the most out of it.

A good first step to designing any outdoor space is to research outdoor-friendly furniture materials. Wrought iron, teak, and resin wicker are all common in outdoor decorating. It’s also important that your outdoor furnishings blend with your interiors and complement the paint colors on the outside of your home.

“An easy way to add color to porches is to decorate with vases, potted plants, and pillows.”

This front porch features faux bois benches by Currey & Company. An outdoor area, such as this one in Kessler Park, should have a variety of comfortable seating options. PHOTOS: NATHAN SCHRODER

Make sure to buy comfortable seating for you and your guests, or else you’ll rarely use it. Your largest piece of furniture should face outwards, while the rest of your seating in a conversation group should face towards it.

Good lighting is also crucial, especially if you like to enjoy your porch as the sun is setting or in the evenings. Look into pendants, sconces, string lights, or lanterns, and remember that bulbs with a warm color are preferable here to bright white. 

An easy way to add color to porches is to decorate with vases, potted plants, and pillows. If privacy is a concern, you may need to add a screen lattice with climbing plants, a tall potted plant, or a shrub. 

If your porch is shadowy, brighten things up by painting the door a lighter color than the rest of the home, then add a new doorknocker. The door should ideally be the focal point of the porch, so flank it with symmetrical plants or furniture on either side. If your door is on the right or left instead, lead a visitor’s eye to your door with a lineup of potted plants.

Swapping accessories out with the seasons adds a lot of charm to your porch. Include throw blankets on the outdoor furniture so you can enjoy the cooler months outside, too. A ceiling fan is also a smart investment for making your porch comfortable in hot summers.

If you still have trouble getting your outdoor space to harmonize with the rest of your home, consider hiring a designer. Despite being called ‘interior designers,’ many of us consult with our clients about their outdoor areas too. A professional will know the best way to take advantage of your space and create a porch you’ll enjoy in all seasons.

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Margaret Chambers

Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at chambersinteriors.com/blog

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