A Summery Sun Porch A Summery Sun Porch

Ah, summer. In the Northeast, summer is the time for slowing down and enjoying the cooling breezes that come through the leafy trees, chatting with friends and family or settling into the good books you never seem to find time for in the hectic fall, winter, and spring.

This porch provides a respite from the heat of the day, being surrounded by rhododendron bushes and shaded by towering maple trees.

Analyzing this porch design with the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design - function, mood and harmony - is pure pleasure, because the room is such a delightful place to visit.

Looking first at the mood of this room, the decor of the porch is definitely summertime casual, with a bit of a Victorian note to it. This is in keeping with the rest of the house, which is a Victorian in the seaside town of Newburyport.

The wicker furniture lets the visitor know this is a place where relaxation dominates. The room is lovely without being overly fussy, and it's elegant without being too formal.

One way this decorator has kept the mood casual is by using funky antiques. The stack of three ancient suitcases to serve as a side table gives the room a whimsical look.

In terms of the function of this room, the primary function of this porch design is to provide a comfortable, cool spot for relaxing. The furniture is the kind you just sink into and don't want to leave, and the double coffee tables can also work as ottomans.

The loveseat and chairs are arranged in a perfect semi-circle, conducive to conversation. The tables provide a spot for setting the pitcher of lemonade and the plate of sugar cookies, or could even serve as tables for a picnic on the porch.

One clever design move here was to use two wicker tables for the center of the room. This gives the room versatility, because the tables can be separated and moved to best serve the needs of the moment.

Finally, the decor of this porch doesn't just harmonize - it sings! The small-paned windows, the white wicker, and the lattice-covered ceiling all play with the same patterns. The floral cushions and floral details, such as the basket of flowers on the wall, emphasize the feeling of being in the outdoors which in turn is produced by the bushes surrounding the room.

The fresh plants with blooming flowers really bring the outdoors in, literally. This outdoors/indoors motif is continued with the stone statue of a cat curiously watching the activities of the room, and the woven decorative branches on one wall. The antique weathervane sounds again the Victorian note.

All in all, this porch is the sort of inviting room where a visitor just wants to sit for awhile and listen to the summertime birds in the garden.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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