<p>A small front porch can live just as big and beautifully as expansive decks and patios. Here's how to turn compact outdoor square footage to your -- and your home's -- advantage.</p>
Outdoor spaces equal livable square footage. For dwellers with small front porches, sized-down outdoor furniture can help a space from feeling overwhelmed. Look for round accent-size tables (no angles mean better traffic flow), comfy chairs without arms (reduced visual bulk), and sectional sofas (to pull apart as needed).
It's easy to divide a large front porch by purpose -- eating, relaxing, cooking, to name a few. Luckily, small front porches can utilize the same principle. Dedicate the space in front of a door, for example, to moving people into and out of the house. Have a few square feet in a corner? Tuck in two comfortable chairs and put down a petite area rug for a relaxing conversation nook.
Too-big trees, shrubs, and other plants can overpower a small front porch. Pay careful attention to plant labels at the nursery or home improvement store and opt for dwarf or midsize options. Those scaled-down plants add restrained structure and beauty to a small front porch.
Your small porch might lead to lots of other outside spaces, such as a driveway, another outdoor space, and a backyard. Joining those other spots increases the sense of cohesion and creates a feeling that your small front porch is bigger than its actual footprint.
A smaller front porch means anything you choose has to be beautiful AND work hard. Use artwork, for example, to hide an unsightly wall; a small table might offer personality-driven color as well as a practical spot for glasses and plates during meals. Use soft window treatments to create intimacy and block the unsightly views.
Too much stuff -- knickknacks, furniture that's sardined in corners -- can easily distract from the livability of a small space. Get rid of anything that's dated, worn out, or ill-used. Then, include only those things that have both purpose and charm.
Blurring the lines between small front porch and yard helps a pint-size space feel bigger. Use appropriate sizes of containers or hanging baskets to help; plant trailing flowers in hues that tie together your color scheme and blend the hardscape with softscape.
If your small porch is primed for paint, your color combos can create a sense of visual expansiveness that belie a space's limited dimensions. Pastel colors, of course, are a natural fit, but a balance of light and dark hues -- say, navy walls with a white ceiling and floor -- can create coziness that doesn't feel suffocating.