How to Design a Covered Back Porch and Extend Your Living Space

A covered back porch offers a host of benefits, from shelter to increased design opportunities. Use these insights for inspiration.

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Unlike their open counterparts, covered back porches offer even more opportunities for enjoying your outdoor space—and because they offer protection from the elements, you can flex your design muscles quite a bit more. Try these inspiring tips for bringing style and design to your porch.

Stretch the seasons.

Covered back porches can protect you from rainfall and sunlight, but if they're open, they don't do much to discourage bugs or keep out the cold weather. You may want to consider screens, as well as windows to help push the seasonal boundaries. And if you do include windows and screens, consider roll-down shades, or light draperies, to block the sun at key times of the day. Although they add cost, radiant heat in the floor and insulation in the ceiling may also protect you from temperature extremes.


Warm up in front of a fireplace.

It may seem indulgent, but a fireplace can serve multiple functions for a porch. It's a natural focal point, a spot for family and friends to gather, and it can extend the season, providing warmth in cooler mornings and evenings

Dress up your light fixtures.

There are outdoor lighting options for nearly every style and size of porch—and with protection, you may be able to use a fixture that's rated UL for damp locations. Depending on the type of walls you have, fixtures that are rated for interior use only may also be an option.


Meld the rooflines.

One of the easiest ways to make your porch feel in step with the scale of your home is to consider the rooflines of the two. It's best to repeat or complement the roofing material and the pitch, as well as the placement.

Extend the space.

Most covered back porches simply extend along a single side of a home. But interesting function and design options may come into play if you extend around a corner for an L-shape space. That expansion may provide room for both a living area and a dining room.

Offer multiple entrances.

A porch that's accessible from several spots inside the home will increase its usability. Consider entrances off living and kitchen areas, or, for an L-shape porch, into a bedroom.


Consider your flooring.

Although a covered back porch offers some protection from the elements, it's still important to consider how well the flooring material will work and look. Exposure to moisture may turn some materials slick underfoot, while others, including concrete, are fairly easy to maintain. Wood may involve more upkeep, but it adds unusual beauty.

Mix and match built-in storage.

There are always seasonal items that rotate in and out of use—outdoor cushions, grilling supplies, dishware. Consider storage as both a design element and a necessity. Ideas include benches with hinged lids, as well as bookcases that surround a fireplace.

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