Create a Porch Retreat

Sitting on a porch enjoying your morning coffee or a pleasant summer evening with family and friends are the things of dreams. You can bring your dreams to life with the right plan to create an ideal porch retreat. There are several furnishings and elements you’ll need to select to complete your porch design.

Divide Porch into Zones

If you have a medium to large porch, divide it into two or three zones. This will make it easier to lay out furniture and accessories. Three possible zones include:

  • Swing Zone
  • Conversation Zone
  • Dining Zone

Swing Time

A porch needs a swing if you want to indulge in nostalgic ambiance. Shop around for just the right style. There are many swing designs to choose, such as:

  • Simple basic wood slat design may be a great fit.
  • Wicker designs bring a touch of the South.
  • Hand-carved one-of-a-kin beauties for a design statement.
  • Wrought iron may be more your style.
  • Convert a twin sized bed for a DIY project
  • A sculpted trellis design can be painted a stunning color.

 Be imaginative and add personal touches to your swing with a stencil pattern or a favorite paint color.

Place Swing on One End of Porch

Most swings are placed on one end of the porch. The best direction is north since it will receive the least amount of sunlight, which is important during hot summer months. 

You can also add a couple of chairs or rockers opposite the swing for a fun conversation zone. Make sure you leave enough clearance space behind and in front of the swing and learn the art of slow easy swinging.  

Accessorize Your Swing 

There are many ways to accessorize your swing and zone. Accessorize your swing the same way you would a couch or loveseat.

  • Add colorful decorative pillows.
  • Drape a throw or quilted coverlet over the back or arm for chilly nights.
  • Place an upholstered tufted thick cushion with matching/blending pillows.
  • Colorful ribbon streamer cascading down the chains or ropes entwined in the links can be threaded with small bells, or faux flowers.
  • Surround with lush hanging plants and floor plants and flowers.

Cozy conversation Zone

Set a pair of chairs side by side for a cozy zone conducive to intimate conversations. This can be a few feet away from the swing, on the opposite end of the porch or by the entrance door. Much depends on the length and width of your porch.

  • Wicker chairs with thick cushions and lumbar pillows are ideal for a Southern flair.
  • A pair of rocking chairs in matching colors or different finishes may be more your style.
  • Retro metal chairs or rockers add a fun touch.

Add Plants, Flowers and Art

You can accessorize this zone with plants and flowers. Add a few art objects, too.

  • Display a local pottery vase filled with spring flowers.
  • If country is your theme, set a butter churn by one of the chairs and hang an old sign or replica by the other chair.
  • Add a nice round outdoor rug to define this space.
  • Don’t forget an occasional or outdoor end table set between the two chairs. Add an outdoor table lamp and your conversations can go into the night.
  • To dress up your design, cover the table with an appropriately small tablecloth or ruffled fabric draped over the table.

Dining Zone

If your entrance door isn’t centered in your porch, but offset, then you can use the larger part of the porch for a dining area. This may very likely become your favorite spot for meals during the warmer months.

Set the Table

Use a round table since it will take up less space than a square or rectangle table. Most average sized porches can accommodate a four-chair table, but some may only allow you to set a two-chair table. Be sure you select furniture that is comfortable for sitting at lengths of time to encourage the porch being used. You can always push a square table against a wall or railing and seat three. 

  • Add a rug. To create design interest you may prefer a square or rectangle rug, although you could use a round one large enough for all chairs to set neatly on the rug.
  • A tablecloth can add a lot to the appeal of this space.
  • Don’t forget a flower centerpiece.
  • Decorate the surrounding area with hanging baskets, floor planters/pots and various decorative objects, such as a gazing globe or art for the side of your home.

Other Ways to Decorate Your Porch

The heat of the day can often detract from using a porch if the sunlight peeps onto the porch. Privacy can also be another issue you’ll need to address.

  • Rollup shade may be a solution so your porch is comfortable to use all day.
  • Curtains that can be drawn and opened as needed to make your porch more usable.
  • A lattice wall can provide shade and privacy.
  • Ceiling fans are a must for any summertime porch use.
  • Strings of lights offer a romantic and subtle lighting solution.
  • Candle lanterns can be placed on railings, tables and floors for ambient lighting.
  • A patio heater will help you extend your porch use beyond spring and summer.

Great Ideas for Porch Designs

These are just a few of the many ways you can decorate your porch to become an outdoor living space for family and friends. Look around your home, garage or storage unit/shed to rediscover long-forgotten treasures you may want to use in your porch design.

photos via flickr cc: Bob Doran, Sonja Lovas,  sanddyss, Sessums, Meg LessardEmily Allen  and Ashley Bilodeau 

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Author: Sally Painter

"Everyone can have a beautiful home decor. It just takes a little creativity," says author and freelance writer Sally Painter. This former commercial and residential designer is also a Feng Shui practitioner and believes that, "Everything you choose to put in your home should resonate with you emotionally. If it doesn't - get rid of it!"

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