We've all seen those forlorn back porches, the ones with a few leftover plastic chairs and a mishmash approach to layout and finishes. But porches with a "wow" factor -- those that function well and offer lovely arrangements of fixtures and accents -- are spaces that make homeowners and guests want to relax and stay awhile. Fortunately, creating this sort of space isn't that hard. Here are seven design ideas for back porches.
- Rely on the color wheel for guidance. Color vexes many people, but it's simpler than it might seem: Use a color wheel as a guiding design idea for a back porch. A monochromatic scheme simply varies the shade of a single color -- white to gray to black, for example. A complementary color scheme blends hues that are directly across from one another (think yellow and purple) while analogous finds harmony with colors that are next to one another -- green and blue. Choose what you like and use it as a design base for your back porch.
- Define zones. To increase the use of your backyard porch, introduce a simple design idea: zones. You may have one area set up with a dining table and chairs for mealtime, and another with a few seating choices for relaxing. A shift in furniture or the introduction of a rug or other visual item, such as a screen, can be a great way to shift from one zone to another.
- Include pattern. Pattern offers a great way to introduce visual relief for a back porch. For example, vintage elements are a good option for introducing country-inspired design in a back porch, while a patterned tile floor can supply a complementary color to the overall scheme.
- Continue interior design choices outside. Key decorative elements not only define a porch's style and character, they also help to tie your back porch to the rest of the home. For example, millwork and design motifs, such as trim, help to continue items from the main structure.
- Make it comfortable. Rugs underfoot can offer texture; drapes can shield strong sunlight. All those extras -- storage, pillows, throws, lighting, artwork, tables, fans -- that make good design choices inside are good design choices for a back porch.
- Add a focal point. Most of your inside spaces probably achieve order by using one large element -- a sofa, a bookshelf, a piece of art -- as a focal point. This allows the eye to move around and through a room. The same design idea is true for a back porch: Include one central, organizing element and additional pieces as design support.
- Mix up seating and materials. Different types of seating -- a pouf, a sofa, a few chairs -- accommodate multiple guests and allow for maximum flexibility. In addition, a mix of materials such as wood, metal, and wicker can offer welcome visual variety in a back porch. The options needn't be expensive -- simple covered seat cushions, for example -- but all materials should be able to withstand the elements.