How to Create a Welcoming Porch or Patio How to Create a Welcoming Porch or Patio

 Say what you will about Southerners, but always acknowledge this: they know how to create a welcoming, comfortable porch. From Charleston to New Orleans, the warm weather and genial nature of the South makes porch-sitting a valued activity, and years of practice have taught Southerners how to create great atmosphere and ambiance on their porches.

Here are some tips you can follow to make a welcoming porch at your own home, no matter where in the country you live!

Furniture Selection on Your Porch

The foundation of any great porch is the patio furniture. It should be comfortable first, of course! But there are some other things you should keep in mind about the furniture you select for your porch.

 Usually, a porch's first purpose is to serve as a relaxing seating area. Your furniture should be selected and arranged with that in mind. Substantial chairs, side tables and a center table can create a great space for friends to congregate. In the South, conversation is king -- make sure the arrangement of your furniture on the porch will facilitate interaction of your guests and not prohibit it.

Likewise, furniture should be selected for utility. If your porch is not covered, your furniture should be able to withstand outdoor weather, or it should be the kind of furniture that will age and become distressed prettily as it is exposed to the elements. It should also be durable furniture -- the kind you can sit a drink on without a coaster. Since a porch is supposed to be a place to relax, you don't want it to feel too formal. Having durable furniture will help you achieve that atmosphere.

Another consideration for your porch's furniture is its mobility. Depending on the weather, time of day, number of guests or amount of activity on the porch, you might want to shift your furniture around to accommodate everyone. Selecting furniture that is comfortable, casual but also easy to move makes for an adaptive porch layout.

Decor on the Porch

 The porch, being a mix of the comfort of the indoors and the beauty of the outdoors, should have a decor that incorporates your home design and your outdoor space.

You can start by bringing the indoors outside to the porch. Carry over the style of your home to the decor of your porch, adapting it to fit the informal nature. Just because your porch is technically outside doesn't mean you can't treat it like another, more casual, room of the house. You want your porch to flow with your home. Visitors shouldn't feel like they've stepped into another house entirely when they step out on the porch. If you have a Cape Cod-styled home, you shouldn't have a country-western barn theme on your patio. Take a piece of china or fabric from indoors and base your outdoor decor around it, making sure the transition is a natural one.

Similarly, your porch -- even if it is covered or screened in -- shouldn't feel totally like an indoor space. It's there to allow you to take advantage of good weather and your surroundings. You should make sure your porch decor reflects your yard or garden by bringing some flora onto the porch. Whether it's cut flowers, a planted pot, or planters on your railings, bring some natural beauty into your porch space.

Lighting is an important feature that often gets overlooked on the porch. During the day and evening, you'll have natural light, but as it gets darker, you'll need additional lighting. While many homeowners just use the preexisting outdoor lighting of their home to supply light to the porch, this is generally unflattering light and doesn't enhance the porch experience or the features of the home. Planning a lighting scheme on the porch to enhance the ambiance is much more effective. You can create a cozy, relaxing or even romantic atmosphere by selecting appropriate outdoor lighting.

 Enhancing the Natural Atmosphere of your Porch

The environment of your porch is probably already a peaceful one -- but adding a few features can really set the tone for your porch experience.

Sound might not be the first sense you think of when you are designing a porch, but it's one you should consider. A quiet wind chime or a water feature can enrich your time on the porch. Wiring your porch for your stereo is also an option. Whether it's music or running water that fits your mood and style, make sure it doesn't overwhelm the sights, drown out conversation or otherwise detract from your relaxing porch space.

While in the South you can usually bank on mild temperatures perfect for porch time, it's not the same in other parts of the country. Temperature is a large part of a porch experience, and if it's too hot or too cold, your porch may go unused. Luckily, there are easy fixes for this problem. Overhead fans can be installed on warm, covered porches to circulate the air and cool the space. Chimineas, small outdoor heaters or simply blankets can be used to make the porch perfect even on a cool night. Plus, all of these features can be matched to the design of the home and porch, so they add to the decor and aren't an imposition on it.

And remember, the person who is going to be using your porch the most is you. So reserve a corner for yourself -- a chair and an occasional table are all you need. You can create a perfect nook for reading or drinking a cup of coffee in the morning that will relax you everyday, even when you aren't entertaining friends on your porch.

Chicago Renovation and Development is a remodeling and construction company, led by Chicago remodeling contractor Brad Ashman. Serving the North side of Chicago, the company's experienced and meticulous work will protect you from the unexpected during any home remodeling project. See more design ideas and project photos at the company's website.

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