For many households the front porch is a place for family and friends to pass the time, a tranquil open-air alternative to stuffy, confining indoor rooms. In essence both an indoor and outdoor living room, the front porch a place to relax, kick back and reflect on the day, play games, talk to neighbors, or simply sip an ice-cold beer and watch the world go by.
Once upon a time, the front porch represented the ideal of the American Dream like no other architectural feature, only surpassed by the white picket fence. The middle ground between the public and private, a common area shared between the purity of the home and the community outside, the front porch united the neighborhood and community.
These days, the traditional porch is making a comeback, but this time with a modern twist. Less confined by rules and architectural conformity, the porch is now a fun and inviting celebration of community, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here are 10 tips how you can spruce up your porch to make it the pride of the neighborhood:
Lighting dictates what mood you want to set on your porch. Many people are using ornate lighting fixtures made for outdoor use. Built-ins help backlight a front porch, giving it that magical glow. Or why not use some globe string or paper lanterns for a touch of charm? Need a little more light to brighten up the space? Invest in a standing floor lamp or full on hanging outdoor chandelier. There are so many great designs available nowadays you are spoilt for choice.
Candles are also a great lighting feature. To ensure safety, use hurricane lights - housed in a glass container in many great designs, where you can light a candle and forget about it without worry.
What do you want to feel under your feet when you walk out for your morning coffee, greet friends for a dinner party or have a moonlit dance? Reclaimed timber floors, polished concrete, low-maintenance synthetic wood, tiles, or area rugs are all suitable options for your porch floor. Just remember that this area is more than likely to be a high traffic and ideally will be waterproof, so take that into consideration when making a decision.
How can you possible expect to socialize, entertaining and really relax without some great music playing? Sure, you can buy a stereo or outdoor iPod dock, but these days, homeowners are turning to the classier and higher quality option of hidden, wireless speakers outdoors. Don’t forget that wing chimes, hanging seashells, and decorative bottles can make comforting melodies on your front porch.
Bricks, natural stone, concrete blocks, white-washed clap boards, bamboo, antique wood, copper, glass tiles – there really are no rules when it comes to using interesting and imaginative building materials on your front porch. You can even add faux pillars, a decorative railing, or other building elements to make your porch look more traditional. Experiment with bright colors and even stripes and other patterns to find something that fits your personality.
5. Staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter
Nowadays it’s easy to create exactly the type of temperature you want on your porch. Whether you want to use your front porch during the chilly, rainy winter or need a cool outdoor space to escape the intense summer sun, you now have the choice of fans, misters, portable AC units, shade barriers, and indoor-outdoor heaters that will make your porch so comfortable, you’ll never want to go inside.
Try a theme when designing your porch and see where your imagination takes you. You can recreate an Oceanside beach house with a nautical theme using blue and white striped cushions thrown over a crisp white sofa, Adirondack wooden chairs, and seashells and pots of high grasses to finish the look. Or dedicate your porch to your favorite vacation spots around the world by collecting artwork, trinkets, furniture, fabrics and throws from your travels.
7. Spruce it up for the holidays
When it comes to celebrating holidays, we love to go all out! Halloween is just around the corner so turn your porch into the spookiest space ever, decorated with pumpkins, lights, cobwebs and fake spiders to creep out those little trick-o-treaters. Or cover your front porch in twinkling lights and scenes that would make Santa proud around Christmas time, and of course use plenty of red, white, and blue for the 4th of July!
8. Think of your porch as an outdoor room
When looking at the interior finishes for your porch, think of it in the same way as you might approach a room in your house. Of course you’ll consider flooring, lighting, color, pattern, scale and texture, but also don’t be afraid to take it a step further with mirrors, framed photos, book shelves, water features, a dining table and chairs, curtains, and other amenities that you might see indoors. There are some really cool creations that use synthetic materials, all-weather fabrics, and furniture designed for indoor/outdoor use these days, so don’t feel limited.
Figuring out what kind of seating you want is one of the biggest decisions in designing your porch. Hammocks and swinging chairs really make a porch fun and relaxing, or you can use an outdoor sofa, benches, comfy deck chairs, or even the good old-fashion rocking chair.
10. Plants and nature
Soften the look of your porch and inject some natural color with plants and flowers. Make sure you choose the right plants for your porch however based on if the amount of sunlight, protection, and water they’ll receive. You can also use hanging plants or easily design an area for creeper vines to grow, and adding a birdfeeder will give it just the right touch of natural beauty.