Saturday, August 24, 2013

Creating an Inviting Porch

I have to admit it, I have a passion for porches and ok verandas are pretty wonderful too.

Porches can be charming, comfy and even romantic.  Just think of all those first kisses and proposals that have taken place on porches.  What is more romantic than sitting on a porch swing holding hands with your sweetheart? Does any one remember the gliding loveseats?

But there is something about a porch that to me is just an inviting place to spend some time.  Whether chatting with friends, playing with your kids, reading a book, sipping lemonade or maybe taking a nap there is just something about a porch that makes you want to be there.

 A classic Victorian house with a grand veranda, and upstairs porches too!
So I thought since I am doing a series on outdoor living, that a post on porches is vital!

What makes a porch take on such an ambiance?  And, just what constitutes a porch?  I would say that a porch must be a covered area on the exterior of a home.  Mostly I think of them being  on the front of a house but many are on the side or back, hence "the back porch".

This rustic back porch is welcoming with it's stone fireplace.  What a nice addition to any porch.
How lovely to enjoy the ocean breeze on this screened porch.  The eclectic mix of furniture gives a different sense of style to this space.
Some porches are screened and some have railings around them.  Most also have posts, columns or pillars.  It doesn't really matter how big they are but I am going to say that a big porch could also be called a veranda.  Some verandas wrap around the house on at least two sides.
This porch has a roof, columns and a railing, an a pair of chairs awaiting visitors.

 A porch is also different that a patio.  Here in Florida most houses have patios.  They are also usually on the back of a house. They can be open or screened or have a roof. But they simply are not porches!  They don't seem to have the charm of a porch, not that they can't be wonderful all on their own.

If you are lucky to have a porch, how can you decorate it to maximize it's charm?  What can you do to make it inviting?  Here are some ideas.

Comfortable seating is a must.  Look at the beautiful painted floor.  I love how the porch flows through the French doors into the house.

 Some of my favorite things to find on a porch are porch swings, and rockers. When I would visit my grandparents' farm in Mississippi we would sit in our rockers for hours on the porch. We would sip sweet tea, share family stories or shuck corn or snap beans for the evening supper.  It was a time I will always treasure.  Maybe that is where my passion for porches began.

Porches were made for rockers.  I get the feeling this one is by a lake.

A traditional porch swing piled with pillows and a throw welcomes everyone.

A white swing on a white porch with a dark green cushions and bright red geramiums is the perfect place to relax on a summer's day.

Wicker sofas and chairs with pretty cushions are a common element found on porches everywhere.  Side tables and dining tables look great and make a porch even more functional and inviting. If it is protected from the weather natural wicker is great but today there are many beautiful options in outdoor wicker too. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

Natural wicker looks so pretty with blue and white. Notice the high gloss blue ceiling. It creates a feeling of sky and light.

Wicker mixed with wood accent pieces give a warm feeling to this porch along with the plants, pillows and mirror on the wall.
 Wrought iron and wrought aluminum are other popular materials for both seating and occasional pieces.  There is such a fantastic choice of durable outdoor fabrics available, like Sunbrella.  It makes it more fun to decorate your porch with cushions and pillows.

The dark wood floor really sets off the white cushions on the wrought iron chairs. Plants soften the look and tie the inside with the outside too.
So, now you have the basics but what could you add to give your porch more warmth and personality?  How about an area rug? There are many choices in outdoor rugs that it make it easy to add a rug to define a conversation area and give your porch an indoor feeling. 

The accessories on this porch give lots of personality.  It probably tells you a lot about the style of the people who live there too.

Another way to warm up any porch is with lighting.  Lamps, lanterns, chandeliers and candles are always effective.  For the most part you would want to use a material that would be weather resistant but there are many possibilities.  I have even seen some creative "candleliers" made just for candles.

A stylish flush mounted ceiling fixture provides light for this porch. Here is a new take on the traditional porch swing as well.  Drapery panels add an indoor feeling which allow for privacy and sunlight control.  A ceiling fan is a great addition to a porch to help out when the breeze dies down on a hot summer day.
I love the look of drapery panels hanging on a porch.  Whether tied back or blowing in the breeze, there is a feeling of romance and elegance that happens when you add hanging fabric to an outdoor living space.

Plants and flowers are natural accessories for a porch.  Ferns on plant stands always whisper "Palm Beach" or Vintage Victorian.  Flowering plants add color. Herbs add fragrance.  Palms or small trees can fill in empty spaces or provide privacy.  Plants help to tie your porch in with the rest of your garden or yard.  Hanging plants are wonderful too. And don't forget when space is tight or you are faced with a big blank wall you can hang plants there too!

Colorful pillows, a throw, table runner and little lanterns make this porch a very happy place to relax.
What more could you do to put the finishing touches on your porch?  Outdoor art,  pottery and baskets, handmade sculpture or crafts, a trellis on the wall and even mirrors provide provide ways to add personality.

This porch is elegant but not too formal.
Instead of drapery panels here we see a louvered screen.  Lattice or trellis works well too.

For me the piece de resistance for a porch is a beautiful hammock. It would beckon me to stretch out, relax and be lazy.  Swinging softly in a hammock creates the most delightful gentle breeze.

Want to take a longer nap?  Why not actually sleep out on you porch?  A sleeping porch is a wonderful idea for feeling like you are camping with the comforts of home.

I call this rustic elegance.  When you juxtapose those two elements you create a delightful play of the soft and luxurious against the texture of  old and worn . 

A sleeping porch can also be for the whole family.   These drapery panels not only give privacy but when closed make this a very cozy place to sleep, protected from a chilly night breeze or unexpected rain storm.

Here are a few more porches I would like to share:

A pair of Adirondack chairs with plump pillows, bouquet of fresh flowers, a palm and drapery panels are  perfect on this porch.

This porch is may be screened or glass enclosed.  The lighting and draperies really add to the ambience in this space.

Porches provide a fabulous place to decorate for any holiday.

Rock your troubles away.

Swing in the ocean air, but watch out for the other guy!

Porches are for dining with friends and family.  These comfy chairs will allow everyone to linger and relax.

Who says a porch or porch swing has to be traditional?  This contemporary swing is so unique. It makes me think of how creative you can be, even when designing a porch swing.

When you enclose a porch with glass it truly becomes an outdoor room.

I hope you have enjoyed spending time on my imaginary porch with me.  How would you like to decorate your porch?  What makes your porch an inviting place to spend some time?             

 As always I invite you to share your ideas, inspirations and thoughts in the comment box below.  You can also email me at

                      (Photo credits go to Pinterest, House Beautiful and Google Images.)

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