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The Sophisticated Porch

This veranda offers all the benefits of the outdoors, but with the elegance of a stately living room. Learn how to make your own stylish yet sturdy retreat.

Outdoor living can be beautiful. Just look at this exquisite work designed to withstand a New England hurricane season. Enveloped in blocks of bold red and oyster white, the veranda is truly a design showcase all its own. While sophisticated, this space teaches several basic lessons that apply to any urban or suburban home.

Look beyond plastic or metal for outdoor furniture. These furnishings are a mix of new and antique pieces with lacquered wood finishes that can take a rainy beating. For instance, the pedestal coffee table features an antique base and a brand-new, solid-surfacing top, which is both practical and beautiful.

Think indoors when creating outdoor spaces. A patio doesn't have to revolve around a grill and picnic table; it can be an exterior living room with a host of interior amenities, such as a dining table and chairs, a settee or chaise, and a pair of side chairs for a game of chess.

Don't settle for vinyl or starchy outdoor fabrics. Ultra-stylish, weather-resistant fabrics that can stand up to almost any nor'easter cover everything in this space, from the pillows to the upholstery.

Keep the neighbors out, or at least keep them from peeking. Three panels -- made of a mix of creamy white and buttery yellow awning material that breathes well so it's not claustrophobic -- were added to each side of the veranda to block prying eyes. Other ideas to consider include garden lattices with a vining plant or rolltop canvas shades.

Don't forget the floor. There is virtually no limit to the options for flooring in outdoor spaces today. From traditional wood or painted floors to rubber composite and plastic, you can tailor the floor to your preference and usage. This vinyl sisal carpet has the same sophistication as its interior cousin, yet is as tough as artificial turf for outside.

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