Porch decor ideas are probably not the first place you start when doing up youur home. But they are the first thing you'll see when you come back to it. And with glorious sunny days almost here, it's time to give them a refresh. Getting your stopp right means a place to relax, to catch up on the day, to welcome friends and neigbors with a glass of iced tea. A place to sit, watching the sun rise or set, is what summer is all about.
When it comes to front porch, garden or backyard ideas, there's plenty you can do to make these exterior spaces the heart of your home. After all, the outdoors contribute heavily to your mental health. It's important to give them all the love and transform them into socializing spaces where you and your loved ones can spend time in.
'A fabulous porch starts with laying out how you envision using the space and creating “rooms” with their own functionality and purpose,' say the interior designers Kate Anne and Ryan Gross, founders of Kate Anne Designs.
If you don't have a traditional porch, you can always design an extension to enjoy the great outdoors. You can speak to a contractor to extend the roof beyond the exterior walls while keeping the clean lines of the house intact. If that sounds too cumbersome, you could add vertical wooden slats in a semi-circle around your front door (you want to be sure you have all the permissions to do so), and create a small nook for a porch design.
Of course, a porch doesn't always need to be at the front of the house. Utilize your backyard deck as a seating spot, borrowing any of these ideas, and treat it like a back porch.
Front porch decor ideas
1. Stick to a limited palette
You want your porch to feel like it's in keeping with the house. A palette of natural wood browns, beiges, and cool blues tends to work best, taking its lead from the main property. However, you know we like to mix things up, and a pop of brightness as the front door color can be matched to the shade of your furniture.
'Most buildings have neutral exterior paint colors (with grey and black being popular against red or yellow brick) so it’s a good opportunity to add personality through the non-permanent parts of the porch, like the furniture, lighting, accessories,' says Gloria Apostolou, principal, Post Architecture Inc (opens in new tab). 'You could add a colorful set of chairs, or patterned cushions to create that playfulness. I would just caution not to use too many colors as an accent, to keep the mood modern and sophisticated.'
Another way to bring in just a few sprinkles of color is through flowers. So the next time you are cutting blooms or bringing home a market bouquet, why not reserve a few for the porch? Set them in vases and keep them in unexpected corners.
2. Keep the interior sightlines in mind
'Limit your palette of materials and planting. Connect the design to the architecture and interiors. This can help the transition from interior to exterior feel more connected and seamless. This applies to form, space, and material,' says Matt Baran, founder of Baran Studio Architecture.
'When designing a porch, one of my main concerns is the sightline from the interior,' says Kirsten Blazek, founder of A1000XBetter (opens in new tab). 'If you can see the porch from the inside of the house you must pay attention to how it will look from the interior as well as the exterior. I always want to make sure it is a seamless transition visually. I like to make sure I am selecting items that can withstand the elements but are just as nice to look at as the pieces inside the house.'
A streamlined design can make a porch appear larger. If you have direct sightlines from the inside to the outside, you could add symmetry by choosing similar pillows from the inside to be arranged outside, on the porch. Flank the front steps with potted plants identical to the ones used inside, for a balanced look. This way, you can nod to the latest garden trends both outside and in your home as well.
3. Use cleanable fabrics
Picking the right outdoor fabric can be a daunting process – which ones will last, which ones won't catch dust, and so on.
If you use your porch often and you anticipate that it will eventually become a high-traffic area, choose upholstery that will survive with heavy use. Select fabric with a higher rub count; ideally one that can withstand 50,000 double rubs.
'Upholstered furniture is the most comfortable and inviting but even the most cleanable fabrics will show dirt and will need to be covered or stored in rain and snow,' says Jennifer Morris, principal of JMorris Design (opens in new tab). 'Make sure the cushions are meant for outdoor so you don’t get mildew. Look for furniture that is easy to take care of.'
Also, ensure that the textile’s color-fastness is strong. This is a measure of how much sun the fabric can handle. Most solution-dyed fabrics hold up well to the sun. If you have a front yard or backyard pool, you want to make sure the fabrics you choose (that will be near the waterbody) can handle chlorine and are waterproof. Usually, acrylic fabric, olefin, polyester, and Textilene do well outdoors.
4. Accessorize furniture the way you would indoors
Ideally, porch decor ideas require a few chairs and a small table – enough garden furniture to make your time outside comfortable. Choose pieces that are comfortable and weather-resistant. Then it's down to the dressing. Candles on sticks, patterned cushions and rugs all add to the feeling of hospitality.
'Be thoughtful about the porch and its relationship to a yard, street, or neighborhood,' says Jennifer Morris of JMorris Design. 'Place the furniture to face the exteriors, ready to engage in conversations. This furniture is the first thing your guests see as they enter the home so make sure you choose inviting pieces. Stage the place with planters, lighting fixtures, and even sculptures.'
5. Go for mood lighting on your porch
'In terms of lighting, you are typically not going to be doing anything at night that requires intense lighting, so keep it moody and low level,' say Alice Arterberry and Barrett Cooke, founders of design studio Arterberry Cooke (opens in new tab). 'We love low voltage landscape lighting to help set the scene and create the perfect outdoor ambiance.' s
We recommend a layered approach to porch lighing. An overhead light and some low intensity portable floor lamps will illuminate the space perfectly. Always use yellow lights for the outdoors as the harsh white can ruin the laid-back mood of the porch.
And because staring into a black abyss is never fun, remember to add a little garden lighting to the area beyond where you're sitting.
6. Add extra bulbs and lanterns
The most classic (and traditional) way to light up your porch is through lanterns. These give the space a vacation home vibe, a feeling of fiesta. Ideally, a suspended lantern looks good if you have a double-height ceiling so it can cast a warm glow over the surroundings.
If your porch overlooks your planting, consider adding spike lights on the shrubs or string lights on trees. These tiny sparkles will add a decorative touch to the exteriors.
'Fluff the space with lots of pots, possibly adding in some hurricane candles or lanterns and of course throw pillows and blankets for a cozy and comfortable vibe,' say Kate Anne and Ryan Gross, co-founders of Kate Anne Designs (opens in new tab).
7. Design an inviting porch decor with plants
Whether you have the luxury of a garden or not, plants are a big part of porch design. Dot the area with eye-catching barrels, tall urns, concrete planters, or hanging pots to give the space a refreshing look.
Add trees in pots, pansies, petunias, hydrangeas or coir plants here. Geraniums particularly look nice when planted in an old porcelain bowl and placed on a wooden chair. Also, consider bringing in old barrels and galvanized cans found at thrift shops to add to the organic scene.
8. Convert the porch into an outdoor dining space
When the weather is pleasant, there's nothing better than eating al fresco. Place a table big enough outside to fit the family and set leisurely meals on it. To decorate the scenery, add plump cushions on chairs, place a nature-inspired fabric on the table, and line the place with lanterns and string lights.
If you want to extend your alfresco experience, consider designing a garden bar to keep your family and friends hydrated during soirees.
How can I make my porch nice?
Gardens, pools, terraces, small patios, or porch designs add to the happiness of a home. Humans are inherently attracted to the outdoors, and these break-out spaces help us connect with nature. Making the front porch a stylish and functional space is pretty easy, with just a few elements and a little bit of restraint.
Ensure you have lightweight, weather-resistant furniture (like a wooden rocking chair, a wicker stool, a light sofa, etc) to make this space cozy for conversations and long stupors. Don't overcrowd this area; it will kill the vibe of the porch. Throw in some cushions, and even bring in a throw to add layering to the overall scheme.
If your interiors and exteriors are within the same sightlines, make sure your porch decor isn't starkly different from the interiors. Perhaps continue the same color scheme from the indoors to the outdoors, to create symmetry. You could even repeat the same planters that you've inside, and place them along with the porch steps.
Go for layered lighting. Choose one large pendant to hang above the seating area, and layer the rest of the space with lanterns, string lights, candles, or spotlights. Even garden lights that throw illumination up to the porch work beautifully. Display vintage curios, thrift shop finds to complete the scene.
How do you decorate a front porch on a budget?
You may want to relook at your front porch decor and possibly give this area a fresh look, but you have to consider your budget. If the renovation is breaking your bank, consider budget ideas that will give your porch an extraordinary look.
By simply painting your furniture or porch walls, you can transform this area. Spruce up your existing wicker and metal pieces with spray paint. On the walls, you could paint stripes and checkboard patterns for a refreshing, fun look. Similarly, a simple swing can go a long way in not only making your porch comfortable but also adding whimsy. Ensure the support beams in the ceiling are secure with the proper hardware.
Choose string lights or bulbs and hang them at strategic corners to brighten up the space. A rug can bring in pattern and color to the outdoors, and add a layering effect to the decor. Find an indoor carpet that suits your style and lay it on the porch.
Another quick way to decorate the porch is by bringing in greenery – choose containers and hanging baskets full of flowers and plants. Set them along with the steps or create a vignette. For low-maintenance varieties, go with ferns, ivy, and other high-texture greenery.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
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