Whether you use your porch for dining, sleeping, or just enjoying the breeze, follow these decorating tips for tailoring your outdoor room to its function.
Entice your family away from the television or computer by outfitting your porch with all the accoutrements and comforts of the living room (except the TV and computer).
- Define seating areas with a rug. Depending on the space's exposure to weather, use a real rug or natural fiber matting, such as sisal, coir, or jute. If you use natural fiber, pick a mat that won't prick bare feet. Or, paint a rug design directly onto the porch floor.
- Use indoor furniture for protected outdoor areas. Often, an extra coat of paint or varnish is all that's needed to make these pieces weather-hardy.
- Arrange comfortable seating into cozy conversational groups; face some seats toward the house.
- Use enough coffee tables and end tables so that every seated person has a place to rest a drink. Also consider using table alternatives, such as benches, crates, or trunks.
- Plump up hard seats with cushions and throw pillows.
- Use fabric to visually soften the space. In addition to cushions and seats, use fabric to cover tables, create a privacy screen, or make porch curtains. Durable fabrics for a covered porch include sheeting, ticking, and toweling.
- Consider using synthetic, weather-resistant fabrics on exposed porch areas. Woven vinyl-coated polyester is waterproof and resists fading. Acrylics (available at tent, awning, and fabric stores) sew up easily into soft furnishings and curtains. They dry quickly, don't mildew, and look and feel like indoor fabrics. Also look for laminated-cotton yard goods at the fabric store.
- Accessorize. It's these little personal touches that really make a room inviting. Hang birdcages, pictures, mirrors, and collectibles on your exterior walls. For tabletops, think of using lamps, framed photographs, watering cans, toleware, birdhouses, and garden statuary.
- Use texture in your scheme. Rough-hewn texture is a trademark of a casual room. Find it in the form of wicker, bamboo, and twig furniture; weathered wood, metal, and terra-cotta pieces; and woven baskets.
- Remember to use cut flowers and plants. Place them at varying heights, and employ them as privacy screens where needed. Add window boxes or vine-covered trellises to create a colorful focal point.
Continued on page 2: Porch Dining