When a porch is well decorated, it becomes more than just a feature of your floor plan. Porches that combine function with aesthetics can extend your living space, reconnect you with nature, provide a memorable place for entertaining, improve curb appeal, help sell a home, and show off your own personal style. Here are 12 inspirations for turning your porch into an inviting safe haven!
1: Provide an Outdoor Dining Space
A simple picnic table can work for casual spaces or for kid friendly dining. A painted flea market find is perfect for adding character with a tighter budget. Dining tables are as eclectic as their owners and can be as formal or as casual as you’d like. I find that when we have guests over during the spring and fall, our guests tend to naturally gravitate towards the backyard. Having a designated place to sit and eat is ideal for outdoor entertaining since we always serve food and drinks anyway. You might also consider adding lanterns near your dining area since they provide light and ambiance after the sun goes down. Chandeliers centered over the table can also help make this space the focal point of your porch.
2: Don’t Forget Blank Wall Space
Wall space is often left blank on porches, and this is such a wasted opportunity for color, texture, or architectural interest! If you don’t want to drill holes into your brick or vinyl siding, you can hang a piece instead from the ceiling or wooden beam. In Charleston South Carolina and other coastal areas, drilling a mooring cleat to an upper wooden beam provides both function and nautical style. Ideas for hanging pieces include canvased artwork, antique windows, metal work (here, we see pieces that resemble our popular ironwork gates in Downtown Charleston), vintage signs, mirrors, painted shutters, wooden paddles or oars, shelves, or reclaimed wooden boards that have been painted with a design.
3: Finish the Ceiling with Beadboard or Shiplap
Details matter when making your porch more inviting, so imagine the impact of adding detail to such a large space as a ceiling. If you’re a regular reader our Keadle Group blog, you know how much we love to update a home with shiplap. Pressed tin ceiling tiles can also achieve the rich, textured look we’re going for here.
And while we’re talking about ceilings…painting your porch ceiling white (or the classic light blue like we see on Charleston homes) will make the space feel larger and more open. This trick is particularly helpful if you don’t have high or cathedral style ceilings.
4: Install a Swing
Swings can be especially fun for kids and grandkids, but I find that guests of all ages enjoy swinging. Painting your swing a bold red, yellow, or turquoise can help tie in with a color theme while also protecting wood from the elements. If you think your porch is too small for one of these, look for a single person swing. You can find these in wood or rope hammock styles.
5: Add a Pop of Color
Outdoor decorating trends are increasingly incorporating bright colors into outdoor living and entertaining. Use colors to create a theme such as all blues, red and white stripe, a blue nautical motif, orange and white geometric, or yellow and green floral.
Bold paint colors can help to cover older pieces, making them look new again. It also can help protect against future rust for metal furniture. Lastly, bold colors are helpful for hiding the inevitable pollen and yard dust that accumulates after cutting the grass in your backyard. White furniture tends to show every speck of dirt it seems, so colors such as red, blue, and green tend to require less maintenance long term.
6: Add Vertical Architecture to Your Outdoor Space
Adding a pergola directly off your porch will extend your outdoor living space and make for an easier transition from indoors to your yard. The additional shade will help keep your porch cooler, and your contractor should be able to discuss screening options based on the exterior of your home.
7: Overstuffed Cushions and Extra Pillows are Absolutely Necessary
Homeowners often shy away from using fabrics outside, but cushions and pillows make outdoor furniture so much more comfortable. If you want your porch to feel like a true extension of your home, it’s important to pay as much attention to this space as you would any other room of your house. Pillows and overstuffed cushions help make your porch feel like an inviting place – the type of space where guests would want to read a book, enjoy a morning coffee, or unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day. Pillows and cushions have come a long way in the past few years, and you’ll be surprised at how comfortable and weatherproof the materials are.
8: A Rug is Inviting for Bare Feet
A large outdoor rug will help define your outdoor living space, which is ideal for bringing together a large set of furniture. (Be sure to arrange the front legs of your sofas or chairs on the rug in order to make the space seem bigger.) If you’re working with a smaller space, a smaller rug helps for transitional areas such as the space between a swing and a door. Adding an outdoor rug a great opportunity to tie in with your color theme or, for example, to contrast navy and red anchor themed cushions with a teal chevron rug.
9: Draw the Curtains or Roll Down the Roman Shades for Guests
Whether you’re trying to block the sun’s rays or create privacy on your porch, curtains offer good function in addition to aesthetics. White can be hard to keep clean, especially during pollen season, so this is a great opportunity to add color or tie in with a theme such as stripes, paisley, or nautical. Window treatments can also help make your porch feel like an extension of your home.
10: And of Course Flowers and Plants
Whether it’s a window box on a front porch or a potted plant on the back, these green touches can help to transition from inside to out. Talk with your local garden center about what type of plants thrive in the level of shade your porch offers. Flowers such as impatiens, begonias, and hydrangeas can add color or even be incorporated to match the pinks or blues of your furniture/cushions. Or, a simple evergreen bush can add texture and life to your outdoor space year round.
11: A Fan is a Must in the South
Unless you have a beach home or harbor front home in Downtown Charleston with constant, naturally occurring breezes, you’ll want the function of a ceiling fan on your porch. Instead of opting for the plain white version (which will need to be wiped clean at least annually to keep it looking white), why not opt for a more decorative fan with lantern style lighting? Would you install a plain white fan in your living room?! A good rule for decorating outdoor spaces is to give as much attention and detail to your home’s exterior space as its interior.
12: Add a Lamp to Your Side Table
Lamps are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners try to turn their porch into an outdoor den. Not only do they add an element of height to a space that can seem otherwise low-lying with short furniture, but lamps also extend the enjoyment of your outdoor space. Whether you’re entertaining or reading a good book, the added light is convenient for twilight hours.