Before electric fans and air conditioning, porches were an absolute home necessity. Screened sleeping porches would provide a cool and airy space during the middle of summer, while broad, columned verandas would shade people as they had a refreshing drink and shared some gossip.
While no longer essential for those trying to beat the summer heat, porches are still the perfect welcoming to a home’s interior, providing occupants with a versatile space that’s especially great when entertaining guests.
It was Andrew Jackson Downing, a well-known American landscape gardener, who first highlighted the importance of a porch. He declared it as the “transitional space between the private world of the family and the public realm of the street”. Since then it has become a significant piece in both architectural and literature history, with many classic novels being centred on the comings and goings of porch life.
The reality is, the porch is much more than simply a place to enjoy the outdoors. Well-decorated, well-planned front porches can boost your property’s curb appeal and extend your practical living space. A back porch deserves just as much attention too, as they add charm, character, and a functional aspect to your garden area.
15 styling ideas for your porch
1. Add bold colour
Bright hues and bold tones can help draw attention to a particular feature of a porch, whether it’s architectural detail or a centrepiece item of furniture. A porch boasting oranges, blues and yellows creates a vibrant space you can’t help but smile in as you sit back, relax, and watch the sun go down.
2. Make it inviting
Making your porch look as inviting as possible with extra pillows, overstuffed cushions and task lighting. This will make your porch the perfect place to relax with a good book, or have a cup of tea with friends.
3. Add an overhead focal point
A dramatic ceiling fan with an inbuilt light is both functional and an attractive focal point. The fan will move air around to help make warm days more comfortable, while the light means you’ll be able to use your porch no matter the time of day. Choose a sculptural version to boost visual interest.
4. Create zones
Even the smallest of porches can be divided up into different zones, making multiple use of the space. Corners work well to create small dining areas, while a sofa-and-chair combo can be pushed or angled with backs against a wall or railing.
5. Add a trellis
To extend your porch and block out intense sun rays, add a pretty pergola or trellis. Not only will it make your space more comfortable, a trellis or pergola is the perfect support for blooms too.
6. Don’t forget the floor
There are hundreds of options when it comes to outdoor flooring for your porch, including natural stone flooring and porcelain pavers. You could also consider adding a rug, which will serve to bring both comfort and colour into the space. Just make sure you choose a rug that can withstand the elements.
7. Make it arty
Most porches have an abundance of wall space, so why not use it to hang artwork, photographs or a narrow sculpture? The porch is also a great place to display your favourite quotes or quirky items.
8. Include flowers
Your porch is a space that mixes the outdoors with the indoors, therefore it’s important to add greenery as well as furniture. Flowers and plants help support the transition between your garden and your house, and can compliment your colour scheme.
9. Double-duty storage
Storage is a must if you’re wanting to stash away cushions, throw rugs, toys, and other bits and bobs, but it shouldn’t replace seating; benches with hidden storage underneath offer the best of both worlds.
10. Change with the seasons
Use fabric to change your porch to suit the seasons. Add slipcovered cushions and pillows with the latest patterns and decorative motifs, and change them over as the seasons come and go.
11. Add privacy
While a porch allows you to comfortably enjoy being outside, there’s no harm in sometimes closing it off to the world. Windows, curtains and/or awnings can be great for adding privacy to your porch, or shielding a not so pleasant view. Just be sure to choose materials that will hold up to fading.
12. Add a fireplace
Add warmth and ambience to your outdoor space by adding a fireplace. While porches are synonymous with whiling away the spring and summer hours, a porch fireplace will make your space the perfect place to hang out all year round.
13. Play with a colour wheel
A colour wheel offers excellent guidance when choosing a colour scheme for your porch. A monochromatic scheme varies the shade of a single colour and can offer sophisticated style and class to a porch. A complementary colour scheme blends hues that are directly across from one another, while an analogous style harmonises colours that are next to each other.
14. Continue your interior outside
Creating the same feel on your porch as you have in your interior will help define your porch’s character. While it’s important not to make your porch a direct replica of your living room, incorporating similar elements or colour can help tie your living spaces in together.
15. Be eclectic
The porch is an area you can afford to have some fun with, so play around with variety. Add a mix of different seating (such as a pouf, a sofa, and some chairs), and use different materials such as wood, metal and wicker. You can add some potted plants to help add some greenery to your porch if it feels too industrial, or just simply use the pots, jars or troughs for a more contemporary look without the plants.