16 Creative Updates for Porches

home exterior
Porches are much more than spots to enjoy the outdoors. Well-decorated, well-planned porches can boost curb appeal, exhibit a homeowner's style, and extend practical living space. Here are 16 ideas to inspire your own porch designs.

Add Bold Color

Bright hues or bold tones can help to draw attention to a particular feature of a porch, whether it's an architectural detail or a centerpiece furniture item. And paint is an inexpensive way to update based on your whims or design needs.

Divide Your Porch into Zones

Even the smallest of porches can benefit from space planning. A corner offers a good spot for a round dining table, while a walkway benefits from a sofa-and-chair combo, pushed or angled with backs against a wall or railing.

Screen the Sun

A pretty pergola or trellis can extend the use of a porch by blocking intense sun rays. Here, the structure offers a support for blooms, too.

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Make It Comfy

Extra pillows, overstuffed cushions, task lights: All these elements help to maximize enjoyment and use of a porch. Don't forget to place a table close by as a surface to hold glasses and books.

Add an Overhead Focal Point

Lights and ceiling fans do double duty in a porch: They add much-needed function by moving air and improving illumination into dusk and nighttime hours, and both can serve as focal points for overhead spaces. Use a sculptural version to boost the visual interest even more.

Dress Up the Floor

There are thousands of options for outdoor rugs that withstand the elements and add color and comfort. Use a large one to delineate a living space, or smaller versions to transition between zones on the porch. If you’re unsure of a rug, try painting the floor in a pattern or accent color.

Utilize Extra Amenities

The key to maximizing the use of a porch is to include the amenities that fit within your budget and lifestyle. For some, those may be as simple as a table and chairs for outdoor meals. Others may find that items such as a fireplace boost enjoyment and use of a porch.

Hang Artwork

Most porches have a large expanse of wall space that often goes undecorated. Artwork  -- a single painting, a cluster of photographs, a narrow sculpture -- can be a great way to add color and visual interest to a porch; used deftly it can also do double duty and shield a view.

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Freshen Furniture with Paint

A can of paint and a paintbrush are about all it takes to change the look of dated furniture. To brighten a porch, consider glossy white; for furniture that fades into the background, use gunmetal gray or matte black.

Tip: Although your porch furniture may not be directly exposed to the elements, it's best to use exterior paint to protect it against weather and UV rays. 

Include Flowers

Window boxes on railings, containers on the floor, hanging baskets from ceiling supports: Flowers and plants do more than offer pretty blooms. They’re a great way to soften the edges of a porch and gently transition between landscape and house. Try flowers in complementary colors to your home’s exterior color scheme, or those that are in the same style as the plantings in the rest of your yard.

Hide a Porch Base with Plants

A low hedge or flowerbed just outside the porch at its boundary can help to hide an otherwise uninteresting part of the structure. Those can also soften the space between house and landscape, and add color and plant interest, too.

Accent Your Home's Architecture

Well-done porches feel perfectly in-step with the rest of a home's architecture. Try to pick up on details -- moldings and trim, floor choices -- the can be integrated outside and inside. Storage also helps to corral everything like outdoor toys, extra throws, and pillows. Double-duty storage -- benches with baskets, for example -- can be a great addition to a space-challenged outdoor area.

Personalize the Porch

As with any other living space, a porch is an expression of a homeowner's individuality. Use clever accents, colors, and furniture to express your style. If you have space, shelves are a convenient addition to porches that can also dress up wall spaces and display treasured collections or artwork. Use them in a narrow niche, or mix and match lengths for even more flexible design space.

Use Fabric to Add Pattern

A cost-conscious solution, fabric offers a trend-forward way to add a punch of the latest decorative motif. Try slipcovered pillows (bonus: Swap the covers when the season or styles change) in a mix of motifs or a bold throw.

Shield the View

Window treatments don't have to be relegated to inside a house. Long sheers help to block the sun or a less-than-perfect view. Choose a fabric that's easy to wash and will hold up to fading (hint: White is always a good choice).

Create a Clear Path

An uninterrupted pathway to your home's entrance makes for good porch planning. Here, a small seating nook offers a wonderful way to engage with the front yard life of the porch.

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