The summertime is in full swing here in the Bay Area and as I drive over the Golden Gate bridge – watching all the out-of-town tourists shivering in shorts, flip flops and hoodies – I’m reminded that summer comes later – and stays longer – here in this nook of the state.
By the end of July, and into September and October, we finally get to enjoy warmer afternoons and evenings. That means porches and patios should be whipped into shape. If your household doesn’t take advantage of serious porch sittin’ time, you’re missing out.
9 Ideas for Sprucing up Your Front Porch for Summertime
Once you start spending more time on the porch, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve missed. From friendly chats with neighbors and passersby to wildlife observations, there’s a whole world going on out there and it’s easy to miss it when you hole up inside, riveted to screens and gadgets.
Make this the summer you and your partner and/or family commit to spending more time outdoors, being social the old-fashioned way.
Repaint the exterior and/or trim
Once you really spend time on your porch, you may notice the trim and railings are a bit worse for wear. In addition to making a porch look shabby, peeling or chipped paint leaves structural supports more susceptible to moisture damage. Maybe it’s time to branch out and try that exterior paint color you’ve dreamed about.
Hang some bloomin’ pots or baskets
Every year, our neighbor’s son makes her hanging baskets of impatiens for her birthday – and he hangs them on hooks that are pre-tubed with drip irrigation. These vibrant and colorful baskets of bloom thrive from late spring, all the way through to the first frost – and they love a shady environment. The whole neighborhood now looks forward to their annual arrival, and we’ve all copied her style in our own way – using flowers that complement our exterior colors and style. Whether you’re a fan of impatiens, or opt for other floral combinations, hanging baskets of flowers add color, life and a huge dose of cheer to a porch facade. People will stop to ooh and aah.
Throw down a throw rug
The interior of your home isn’t the only place that benefits from throw rugs. An area rug anchors the furniture and adds a homey touch. You’ll appreciate the rug, even more, when you start to use the front porch more often. It’s softer and warmer on your feet on a chillier evening, kids are happier to play on it and your dog and/or cat will enjoy a softer space to lay down.
Add some “real” furniture
I’ll admit that patio, porch and outdoor furniture has come a long way in recent years, but I’m still not completely sold. When it gets down to it, it’s rarely all that comfy. Instead, embrace summertime and scour flea markets, garage sales, craigslist and other used furniture havens and finding high-quality, indoor furniture with good bones. Have the pieces refinished with an outdoor-grade finish and upholstered with stylish, outdoor fabric. Now you have furniture that can weather the outdoor climate and is truly comfortable to sit or lay on.
Hang some art
I love when homeowners hang art on the exterior walls. Both porches and patios benefit from this idea, which can range from canvases to sculpture. You can always bring them in when severe weather commences, but until then you gain a more creative and interesting space in which to relax and socialize.
Install ambient lighting
If you’ve never thought of your porch as an outdoor living space, odds are your porch has standard porch lights, safety illumination for the stairs and flood lights. This is great for safety and they serve as general, nighttime beacons – but they don’t offer much in the way of ambiance after the sun sets. Instead, think about adding sconces with decorative shades or find some table and floor lamps that add style to the mix – dimmers are always a bonus. Now you have light guests will want to talk, hold hands, smooch or read by after the sunlight fades.
Install a ceiling fan or have upright fans at the ready
On a warm summertime day – or when the mosquitoes come out to play – a little air circulation goes a long way. If you have the space and height for it, install a ceiling fan. Otherwise, an upright fan will do the trick.
Add the extra accessories that make all the difference
Accessories make the home, so why wouldn’t the porch be included in that idea? Add accessories for color, a little pizzazz and to continue that “outdoor living room” feel. Accent pillows are a comfortable and colorful addition for furniture as well as to accommodate overflow if someone’s sitting on the floor. Additional priorities would be potted plants, candles (or mock candles for safety’s sake), tchotchkes for end tables and coffee tables and some throw blankets in case you need to take the edge off the chill.
Create an outdoor bar
Here’s a great place to use that tea or serving cart that has been stuffed in a random corner. Wheel it out, dust it off, polish or refinish if necessary and then create a portable porch bar. Since the bar’s on wheels, it can be moved out or in as desired and after-hours porch sitting will be even more lively.
May these tips inspire you to take your porch to a whole new level of existence during the summertime. Inspire the neighbors and make porch sitting the desired evening activity. Need help with some interior or exterior design ideas? Contact me at Kristina Wolf Design and I’ll be glad to lend some professional expertise to the mix.