Whether you’re setting up house for the first time or you just hope to streamline your setup, this guide to creating a welcoming front porch is a good place to begin. It helps to start with a clean slate, so when the weather permits, consider thoroughly tidying your porch as step one. Dust off cobwebs, sweep the floor and assess your furniture and accessories. When you’re ready to choose what to put back (or buy), consider the 10 elements on this list, and then share your own porch essentials in the Comments.
Even though they’re not on the porch itself, the plants you include in the landscape leading toward your front door can have a big impact on how your porch looks and feels. From the street, colorful plantings draw the eye — and for those sitting on the porch, a screen of plants provides a bit of privacy and a lovely view.
A tired doormat is one of the simplest things to replace — and making this small swap can instantly perk up your porch. For something a little different, try layering a traditional coir doormat atop a larger striped outdoor rug, as shown here.
Unless your porch is truly tiny, aim to include a pair of chairs rather than a single one. Once you have your two chairs, position them together in a conversation group, as shown here. Placing a chair on either side of the front door might look appealing in a photo, but it doesn’t make much sense in real life.
Love the old-fashioned vibe of a porch swing? Consider using one of these icons of relaxation instead of a pair of chairs — if you have the room, try a swing built for two. Two things to remember: Not everyone loves to sway, so test a swing before you buy; and be sure to have your swing safely anchored to ceiling joists. If you’re not sure how to do this yourself, hire a pro to install it for you.
One easy way to choose a color scheme for your porch is by using the color of your front door or trim as a jumping-off point. Repeat the same hue or hues in each of the accents you choose, such as outdoor cushions and pillows, a doormat or an outdoor rug, and flower pots.
Green plants like ferns can give your front porch a lush, healthy feel. And while seasonal blooms have their place (see No. 9), perennials provide a foundation of long-lasting foliage that you can count on throughout the growing season. Choose the size of your pots to suit the size of your porch. A spacious porch like the one shown here can handle a great big potted plant; on a smaller porch, try a tall, narrow pot or a small planter box.
Unless your porch is naturally shaded by a nearby tree or fence, you may want to add a set of outdoor curtains to diffuse the sun’s glare. Just as with indoor curtains, you can pull them open when you don’t need them and close them when you do. If you opt for anything but white, it’s worth choosing a fade-resistant fabric — you would be amazed at how quickly the sun can bleach even the most vibrant colors.
Whether you have room for a lounge setup complete with an outdoor coffee table, or just enough room for a pair of rockers or Adirondack chairs with a side table in between, it’s important to include some type of surface for setting down a drink and a book. For small spaces, a garden stool can do double duty, acting as a table or an extra seat.
Picking out seasonal flowers to adorn a porch is one of life’s great little pleasures. Whether you fill a window box or pot, aim to refresh your planter at least three times each year: in spring, summer and fall. Don’t want the hassle of maintaining a planter? Bring a vase of freshly cut flowers onto the porch to enjoy.
A well-lit porch helps visitors and package deliverers find your place, but also (perhaps more important) creates a warm, welcoming mood that says “home sweet home.” Aim for at least three sources of light to create a warm glow — a pair of sconces near the seating area plus a light above the door should do the trick. Even better: Add a fourth light above the house numbers (as seen here) to make it easier for visitors to find your address at night.
Share: What are your front porch essentials? Please tell us in the Comments.