62 Breezy Porches and Patios

Coastal Entertaining Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

It's no secret that we Southerners live for our porches. Is there any memory sweeter than those of childhood suppers on screened porches, or drifting the night away on the perfectly-designed porch swing? We pay for our mild winters with our sultry summers, and while modern air-conditioning may have made the deep porches of the past unnecessary, our Southern spirit just can't imagine our homes without our porches. From porches to patios, our outdoor spaces are an extension of our home that can be multi-functional based on our needs, whether to entertain or for a private escape (or both!). Once you land on the porch or patio's purpose, it's time to build on your outdoor space with some personal style. Take a look at some of our favorite porch designs; maybe you'll find some ideas for your own perfect perch.

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Bring the Indoors Out With Plush Furnishings

porch club makeover, looking down porch
Laurey W.Glenn

Furnishings with an interior influence like the rug, sofa, and lamps look great in an outdoor room too. Colorful blooming containers in varying sizes create a garden setting. With plush furnishings, you can elevate the traditional farmhouse porch into a vibrant place to relax with a cold beverage, watching the sun go down on a warm afternoon. Here, shades of coral adorn pillows, which play well with the bustling, flower-filled containers. All of the flower displays are housed in neutral containers, which blend seamlessly into the porch setting. The neutral hues, with a bit of subtle, visual interest added by gray and tan bands at the top, ensure that the containers are always prepared for an evolving color scheme.

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Mix Modern Touches With Southern Classics

Classic Charleston Porch
Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

On this porch, or piazza, classic white wicker furniture is dressed with zesty, bold pillows in a fun pattern. Together, the classic white wicker and the modern India-inspired motif are marked by striking color, natural textures and materials, and classic Southern design with a modern, upbeat edge. The elegant white, barrel-style garden stools are multi-purpose. In this porch vignette, they are positioned in front of the sofa, creating extra seating or a perfect place to rest a book, lamp, or drink. The plants on this porch are subtle, with a red flowering planter that complements the hues included in the sofa pillows and a classic fern in an earthy golden pot.

Tour the Charleston Single House

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Invite Nature With Organic Textures and Tones

Nature-Inspired Porch
Photo by Nancy Nolan

The stone fireplace creates a focal point, adds a heat source, and visually links the porch with the rock columns inside. The fireplace is practical and stunning. Flanked by container-columns that hold chopped wood, it is a year-round focal point for the room, and in winter, it becomes a practical feature, ensuring that no one will need to go outside to chop wood in the cold weather. The light-wood furniture is arranged in a "U" formation to create an optimal seating arrangement for the space. The cushions are covered in a lovely, soothing, ocean-toned fabric, which complements the light wood of the furniture and the earthy, light sandstone hues of the fireplace.

Tour the Nature-Inspired Lakehouse

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Mix Eclectic Prints for Modern Cottage Charm

Modern Cottage Screened Porch
PHoto: Erica George Dines

Just off the kitchen, this Athens, Georgia, screened porch connects the interior to the patio for seamless entertaining. An enormous, dazzling wall of windows brings the outdoors inside for the sensation of al fresco living and dining. This porch is a master class in print and pattern mixing. The bench cushions are upholstered in a sea-inspired print, which, while a pattern, serves as a grounding, neutral base for the panoply of patterns represented in the porch's throw pillows. The cream base ties it all together, providing a soothing and connective backdrop for the pillow hues—assorted peaches, greens, blues, navies, and grays. A distressed table and chairs add to the ambiance.

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Combine Rustic and Cozy Pieces for Relaxed Style

Texas Farmhouse Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

The ideal place to watch Texas sunrises and sunsets, this porch makes the most of its surroundings. A traditional white wooden porch swing is made cozier with blue-and-white cotton pillows from HomeGoods. Below, a warm, tan-toned rug with a subtle, neutral pattern grounds the space. A rustic bench serves as a side table, which is styled with a functioning lantern—perfect for adding ambience to starry, midsummer nights—and a simple, fuschia flower arrangement which adds a pop of color to the blue, white, and tan color scheme. A basket underneath the bench is a nice place to tuck away extra pillows and a few cozy blankets for crisp nights when the Texas weather turns slightly cooler.

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Update Wicker With Bright, Modern Details

Surround Your Seating Area with Beautiful Blooms
Laurey W. Glenn

Wicker has officially transcended its stereotype. We've heard rumors that wicker can be seen as old-fashioned and fussy, but we think that, styled with bright, modern details, there's nothing prettier, more delicate, and porch-perfect. These small-scale white wicker seating pieces were purchased at Pier 1 Imports. Their size and style ensures that the furniture will not overpower this small back porch. This condensed vignette doesn't trade scale for style though. Beige-and-white striped cushions were made to fit the chairs and sofa, and the effect is one of a polished, inviting outdoor space. Clusters of bright flowers in vases and porch corners filled with low-to-the-ground green plants in woven baskets complete the scene.

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Pick Furniture Pieces to Scale

An Editor's Escape

At only 130 square feet, Southern Living Editor Sid Evans' porch is too small for a dining table or sofa, but it's the idea place for conversation and a cocktail. The solution: a stunning coffee table made from four slices of a maple tree, a set of four casual leather-wrapped rattan chairs, and a bright cobalt rug to cover an unattractive brick floor. Two fiddle-leaf figs frame the space, which are ideal plants for a small space with great light. Two small, simple potted plants are set atop the cross-sections of maple, as well as a few favorite books. Not pictured: a simple stocked bar with all the fixings for a classic Old Fashioned.

See More Small Porch Ideas

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Complement Elegant Surroundings With Understated Styling

Coastal Entertaining Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

With surroundings as elegant as these—oaks dripping with moss and stately columns—less is more in terms of porch styling. A zinc-topped cypress tree-trunk table blends seamlessly into the landscape, as do the weathered urns and pots the designer found at Atlanta's Scott Antique Markets. Topped with an arrangement of gorgeous, vibrant hydrangeas, the flowers provide one pop of color, and one is all this porch needs. The rest—white and beige and green—create the most sophisticated Southern scene. For evening lounging, the chandelier is lowered on a rustic rope; when its candles are lit, the magical scenario is complete.

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Go Nautical With Classic Details

Classic Nautical Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A front porch gets the nautical treatment, without looking cliché, with blue-and-white patterned pillows and a striped rug. Carved teak furniture and a rope-woven side table—in honey-warm tones—complement the sea-inspired blue textiles and home's deep-green exterior. White details—upholstery, coffee table, lampshade, ceiling, and trim—add brightness and contrast.

Tour This Classic Nautical Porch

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Balance Transitional Style With a Rustic Surround

Front Porch Outdoor Dining
Photos by Jean Allsopp

Substantial, sturdy outdoor furniture sets the scene for front porch dining. Transitional styling—simple lines and natural teak—make this lovely dining set at home anywhere, including the primitive exterior of this cottage. It complements the tree trunk columns without exactly matching the woods of the cottage's exterior. This adds additional visual interest and intensifies the rustic theme of the setting. With a porch long and wide enough for different furniture moments, here we have one side of the porch ideal for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner for six, and a casual seating area on the other side of the porch, perfect for mid-day lounging or after-dinner drinks.

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Blend Color and Textures for Casual Elegance

Refined Rustic Back Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Decorator Cindy Smith of Circa Interiors, in Charlotte, North Carolina, used purple accents in addition to wood, metal, and stone to create a refined, rustic back porch design. Vibrant violet creates a beautiful counterpoint to the cream upholstery of the sofa and four chairs. The symmetry of the furniture arrangement sits easily and elegantly underneath the sweeping arched columns of the porch's upper architecture. Ornate, medieval-inspired sconces frame the brick porch. Small touches, like this, add visual interest to the smooth blend of colors and textures in this sophisticated but comfortable porch escape. Just plush enough, the pillows and cushions create some contrast to the hardness of the brick porch, furniture edges, tables, and clean-lined columns.

Tour This Refined, Rustic Back Porch

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Go Cozy and Homey With Up-cycled Materials

Natural Woodland Porch
Photos by Jean Allsopp

Outdoor furniture rests comfortably on this small back porch, just big enough for two chairs nestled against a verdant forest landscape. This durable design blends with indoor decor, such as the Tiffany lamp and rag rugs made from recycled blue jeans. Quilts are at the ready for chilly evenings. Bedroom windows open onto this serene space to catch the sound of Whisper Creek. The integrated limb and branch touches in this porch design bring nature into the structure of the home, and the wooden furniture intensifies this effect. It's cozy and homey, without too much effort. And, as you can see, it's a lovely place to hang your hat.

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Spotlight Nature With Understated Furniture

Entertaining Porch
Photos by Jean Allsopp

Deck out your screened porch for dining. Overlooking the woods and lake, dinner music is the chirping of birds and the splash of fish. The tin roof and vaulted ceiling overhead make light rain the most delightful weather—a tinny tinkling becomes the partner to the chatter of dinner guests. Add seasonal sparkle with a string of your favorite lights. The owners of this porch strung a few strands of spherical copper lights. The rose gold hue of these lights sparkles with a gorgeous evening glow and casts a rosy filter over the entire porch. The understated furniture, painted with a pretty garden green accent, is supremely inviting day or night.

Tour This Nature-Inspired Home

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Add Character Mixing Vintage With Traditional

Georgia Brick Porch
Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

An extra-large bed swing invites lounging on this porch. Vintage items salvaged from almost anywhere—antiques stores, hand-me-downs, and side-of-the-road treasures add immense character to the space, giving this porch an effect that is equal parts lived-in and stylish. This porch seems traditional upon first glace, but its special touches take this space from okay to extraordinary. A shiny, green garden stool brightens up the space, as does an eclectic planter. The clean mix of beiges and browns works well with the authentically distressed table. A woven ottoman moves around the space, creates additional seating, and serves as a perfect place to rest a book or beverage.

Tour the Senoia, Georgia, Idea House

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Create a Moody Glow With Assorted Candles

Candle-Lit Porch
Laurey W. Glenn

For year-round lounging, this enclosed sitting area boasts candle chandeliers and a fireplace. Filling the fireplace with candles instead of firewood is a great idea for adding light and charm in warm summer months. This candle-fireplace effect looks especially nice with a cluster of assorted candle sizes, all in the same hue. The candle chandelier pops and glows against the backdrop of this porch's pretty brick design. Brick is a durable base for any design, and the owner of this porch accented the dusty red brick hue with bright pops of marigold, which look lovely and romantic underneath the glow of candlelight.

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Try Bold and Cheery With Formal Spaces

Appalachian Round Porch

An unusual feature, a bar-inspired drink ledge, winds around this circular porch and gives you a practical (and stylish) place to rest a cup of cocoa, tea, your favorite brew, or an icy cocktail. The style of this porch takes relaxing to new heights, literally. Hanging candle lanterns can be lit during evening outdoor entertaining, and this porch's lofty rafters—formed in a deep wood compass design—pop against the cream roof and columns. This design feature gives the porch an airy, cathedral like quality, which is then made modern with help from the bold, dark wicker furniture and cheerful coral-toned color and pattern mixture below.

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Throw in a Few Luxuries

Charleston-Style Piazza
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This South Carolina-inspired piazza has definite pizzazz. This porch is filled with comfy wicker furniture in traditional Charleston green, recognizable by its deep forest, almost black, color. Durable, all-weather materials, such as resin for the frames and outdoor fabric for the cushions keep the space low maintenance and perfect for all seasons. A few luxuries add comfort; plush, pretty pillows and throws can be quickly pulled inside when the weather turns. Iron-base tables with honed marble tops are the perfect sidekicks because they combine simple lines with elegant materials. It's an ideal place to lounge and wait for a soft Carolina breeze.

See More of This Charleston Piazza

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Mix and Match Casual Elements

Bungalow Porch
Photo: Tria Giovan

An extra-long porch swing anchors this porch space and, at 7-feet long, invites stretching out for long afternoon naps. It's twice as nice to fill this swing with friends and family too. The swing is hung in the space by thick ropes instead of the typical silver chain links, which gives the entire area a more natural, cohesive look. A brightly patterned outdoor rug pops against neutral tones. A mixed and matched collection of furniture styles and colors add to the vibe, which exudes a sense of "natural meets eclectic." Nothing in this space feels overdone, thanks to the casual mix of colors, which lend a comfortable, collected feel to this bungalow porch.

Tour This Vintage Style Bungalow

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Invite Nature in With Shades of Green

Cozy Side Porch
Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Inspired by Charleston side porches (called piazzas), this outdoor-friendly furniture arrangement provides a great place to socialize with neighbors or to take in the fresh air while reading a book. Shades of green are soothing and evoke nature. Light green accents open up the space, creating a spacious, airy feeling in this small area. Far from feeling cramped, this porch is cozy; it invites nature in and, with copious plants and greenery, creates a space as beautiful as it is soothing. A neutral rug provides a versatile base and allows for playful color in the sofa, chair, and panel fabric above.

Tour the Senoia, Georgia, Idea House

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Extend the Interior With French Doors

Dining Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

French doors open directly from the kitchen to a front porch dining area that acts as an extension of this home's interior. It's an inviting place for a morning paper and evening entertaining alike. This area is awash with morning light. Its simple table and chairs, plus drapes in a hue somewhere between cornflower and seafoam, create a lovely, soothing outdoor oasis. There's space for everyone on this dining porch, even the family dog, who has plenty of options for settling down in a warm slant of light across the carpet—this space is set aglow at all hours of the day.

Tour This Coastal Retreat

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Add a Multi-Purpose Shelf

Entertaining Patio
Photos by Jean Allsopp

We like to make the most of every space. This pretty patio is adjacent to a small storage outbuilding that can easily be transformed into a bar or buffet for patio parties. With the addition of one simple shelf, the area takes on a brand new lease on entertaining and outdoor life. During the day, it's a rest for garden gloves and pretty plants, at night, it can be a bar, a garnish station, or a place for bottles and glasses. There is no end to the potential of a shelf, especially a substantial one strategically placed (and seamlessly integrated) on the outer wall of a shed as cute as this one.

Tour the Habersham Idea House

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Uplift Outdoor Dining With Bright Accents

Entertaining Porch
Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

A patterned accent rug adds visual interest to this entertaining porch finished with brick pavers and stuccoed walls. A grill is set in a custom cabinet. A retractable awning keeps it all in the shade, which is always a welcome design feature during sunny Southern summers. The bright, patterned rug infuses the space with infectious energy and a casual, stylish Mediterranean vibe. It's incredibly easy to recreate this effect in your own porch, with a simple set of bistro chairs, a small table, and fuchsia flowers, you can create your own entertaining oasis. Add a grill in anticipation of breezy nights making burger dinners and grilled kebabs.

Tour the Senoia, Georgia, Idea House

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Color Block With Rose Gold

Garden Patio
Photography Ralph Anderson / Styling Rose Nguyen

An outdoor fireplace, decorated with items that the homeowner acquired in his travels through the Southwest, dominates this sunken garden patio. A tropical mix of coral and golden pillows add a color blocking effect to the wicker rocking chairs and complement the Southwestern decor. The owner has created a transportive place to curl up thanks to the abundance of greenery and a flickering outdoor fire. A hammered copper plate acts as subtle decoration and shines a rose gold glow when glimmering pillar candles glint across the dips and peaks of its rugged texture. The sunken garden feels like a fusion of influences and colors, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of travel.

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Evoke Serenity With a Blue Ceiling

Gracious Side Porch
Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Lined with handsome box columns and accessible to the indoors through pairs of French doors, this side porch functions much like an interior room, complete with comfortable seating and durable outdoor rugs. This gracious extension of living space contains a teak dining table for informal meals. A very modern, relaxing décor choice, the owner of this home painted the ceiling of the porch a gorgeous sky blue, evoking the serenity of a cloudless day and giving a brush of visual interest at a high elevation, drawing the eye up and intensifying the airiness as well as the sense of height in the space.

Tour the Senoia, Georgia, Idea House

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Continue a Historic Porch Tradition

Historic Blue Porch
Southern Living

Porch ceilings across the South are often painted blue, a tradition that began with Gullah culture. The color evokes the water and was said to keep evil spirits away from the home. The traditional ceiling color is a soft greenish blue hue known as "Haint Blue" across the region. A fan keeps this lovely area cool on warm days, and curtains add privacy to the space.

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Make Porch Doors a Focal Point

Jazzed-Up Porch Doors
Photography Van Chaplin, Laurey W. Glenn, John O'Hagan

These solid-panel shutters add color to the porch and offer extra protection for two pairs of French doors. The shutters fold back flush against the wall when opened. Few colors are able to transcend the traditional-modern divide so seamlessly, but this bright, bold green is a perfect example of an exterior paint color that is just as versatile as it is statement-making. With a color like this on your shutters, you only need simple wicker furniture and wooden accents to create a bold and beautiful tableau.

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Contrast Bold and Subtle Patterns

Luxurious Porch
Photo: Courtesy Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

Durable accessories and furnishings give this porch a cozy living room feel. Patterned pillows and a faux zebra-skin rug are paired with natural colors and textures for a striking effect. A subtle mix of color and pattern in the sofa cushions elevates the space and enhances the elegant decor choices.

Tour This Savannah, Georgia, Porch

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Use Interesting Greenery Against Clean Lines

Modern Patio
Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

This two-level modern patio extends the family's living space to include an outdoor dining room. Modern planters mirror the clean lines of the house, and the variety of plants and natural shapes adds visual interest to the horizontal design. The multi-level porch setup also extends the livable area further into the yard.

Tour This Modern Nashville Home

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Make It Welcoming With a Few Details

Outdoor Dining Porch
Photos by Jean Allsopp

Designed for entertaining, this back porch offers indoor comforts and outdoor style. A teak dining table and casual seating encourage leisure time and easy conversation, while a few plants and pops of yellow add life to the space and make it more welcoming. Simplicity wins in this weather-proof, guest-proof, and kid-proof extension of the home.

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Create Indoor Comfort Outdoors

Outdoor Living Porch
Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

This space mirrors both the function and the layout of an interior living room. An outdoor sofa and club chairs are arranged around a central hearth, which makes visiting with friends just as comfortable as sitting indoors. No need to fear pattern when upholstering your furniture—a bright green and white swirl brightens up this space.

Tour the Dahlonega, Georgia, Idea House

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Fill a Seating Vignette With Potted Plants

Covered Personal Patio
Photography Van Chaplin

Evocative of an individual secret garden, this flower-filled space is a natural oasis. A portable cabana provides a place for reading and visiting on this patio while remaining shaded from the sun's rays. Even after plenty of seasons spent in the garden, the cobalt-blue powder-coated chairs will keep their color, making them a sturdy addition.

Tour the Blue-Accented Garden

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Make a Match-Ready Patio

Game Inspired Patio
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Larger-than-life chess pieces await visitors' opening moves on this playful patio. To recreate this effect, you could paint the chessboard design on the patio pavers themselves, or you could construct and paint your own oversized, mobile chess set. A garden arch opens up to the backyard and allows for easy movement between the game area and the grassy yard.

Tour the Lakeside Garden

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Weather-Proof Entertaining Areas

Patio Living Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This pergola provides great protection from sun and rain thanks to a retractable canopy of outdoor fabric. Comfy seating is centered around a fireplace and creates an outdoor living area designed for parties and entertaining. Plus, there's plenty of room to add a grill, pizza oven, or any other outdoor feature that further increases the functionality and fun of the space.

Tour the Covington, Louisiana, Idea House

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Define the Outdoors With an Arbor

Arbor Covered Patio

This small space, tucked on the side of the house, packs a big design punch. Four 6- by 6-foot posts across the front of the arbor give the structure a substantial feel and creates a border, making the space feel like a cohesive, contained area without diminishing its openness and airiness. Two lattice panels, which support Armand clematis vines (Clematis armandii), provide a sense of enclosure, and with just a few cascading, winding tendrils, they evoke the sensation of a romantic, untamed garden in a few square feet.

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Treat Landscaping Like Decor

Dining Patio
Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Leslie Byars Simpson

Classic blue hydrangea blooms take center stage around this neutral-toned patio dining space. This botanical oasis couldn't be more inviting for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and drinks taken al fresco. It's spacious and cozy all at the same time, with visual depth and design features inspired by nature. Clusters of plants and flowers add pretty nooks and countless garden vignettes that the eye can't get enough of when scanning this sanctuary. From a screened porch to an ivy-adorned wall to a tree growing, canopy-like over the space, it is an outdoor paradise, a garden escape in your backyard, tucked unassumingly in your neighborhood.

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Combine Natural Materials for a Structured Space

Planed Patio Perfection
Outdoor rooms change over time. The homeowners built this arbor the first year they were in the home. When the wisteria covered the top, they realized it was a great room. The garden's structured design plays off of the free-form look of the wisteria.

Some things get better with age. The homeowners built this arbor the first year they were in the home. Once the wisteria covered the top, they realized it was a great outdoor room. A hedgerow, flower beds, and hanging basket only add to the garden's charm.

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Add Polish With Upholstered Pieces

Polished Outdoor Room

Thoughtfully chosen fabrics for the upholstered outdoor furniture give this porch polished appeal. Touches of burnt orange play off of the undertones in wood details. The burnt orange adds warmth and mixes well with the pops of leafy green in this beige-toned space. A large, metallic-framed mirror adds a bold focal point. The fireplace is framed by simple pillar candles and, in lieu of a fire, another tropical, leafy plant resides in the firebox, beneath the simple, warm wood mantle. A large central ottoman serves a trio of purposes—it can be used as an ottoman, as additional seating, or as a place to rest a book.

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Make Functional Window Treatments a Design Feature

Porch With Privacy
Photography Van Chaplin, Laurey W. Glenn, John O'Hagan

These shutters not only add interest and texture to this house, but they also offer privacy and protection from the elements. They can close off the porch or be opened to let in the Gulf breeze. Bold, red paint makes the shutters a dramatic, exterior focal point along with the porch swing and Adirondack chairs in the same hue.

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Personalize Adirondack Chairs

Pretty Back Porch
Photos by Jean Allsopp

You don't need immense square footage to make a lovely porch space. This covered porch is just large enough for a pair of chairs for easy conversation. Pretty, white outdoor draperies frame the space and offer shade, privacy, and protection from the elements. Adirondack chairs with cutouts of the South Carolina flag's logo―a palm tree and crescent moon―give this Low country cottage an even greater sense of place.

Tour the Habersham Idea House

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Punch Up the Color Scheme

Private Porch

Louvered shutters add a little privacy to this porch space and fresh apple green accents punch up the color scheme. Painted brick—here, in white—offers another way to customize your home, brighten it up, and add some modern flair. Dark, weatherproof living room seating anchors the room and provides deep contrast against the light background.

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Use Elevation to Create Scenic Views

Raised Patio

In this picturesque porch scene, the vaulted pitch of the arbor mimics the lines of the garage roof behind it. The entire seating area is elevated, offering a scenic view of the swimming pool below. A ceiling fan under the arbor assures year-round comfort, even in the swelter of August. It's ideal for pool parties, afternoon lounging, and leisurely dinners.

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Achieve a Custom Look With Reclaimed Materials

Reclaimed Porch Doors
 Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Mix reclaimed materials to achieve a custom look. This homeowner combined cypress siding from an early-1900s Sears Craftsman painted green, wood from a 100-year-old barn, and wrought iron fencing to create the porch's sliding doors. The doors slide on a new track to ensure ease and comfort, but the rollers are antique meat-hook wheels from a meatpacking plant. The mix of age and materials really gives the space a sense of place and a good story to boot.

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Integrate Indoor-Outdoor Design Elements

Screened Porch With Style

Decorate your porch as if it's a room in the house. That's what this family did, choosing pieces that jibe with the rest of the home's furniture to ensure a seamless transition from indoors to out. A stone-and-iron table, rattan wicker chairs, and copper lanterns together create a space that appears to have been slowly collected over time.

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Pair Simplicity With Scenic Spaces

Simple Porch

The best seat in this beach house is an Adirondack chair on the second floor's Gulf-front porch. The horizontal rail, chosen here rather than the conventional vertical pickets, provides a seamless view and a clean, stylish look. Simplicity is the ticket here: When you're at the beach, what more could you need?

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Transform a Small Space With Impactful Design

Small Side Patio
Ralph Anderson

This family makes the most of this slender space on the side of their home, adding transformational landscaping through rows of trees, ferns, and shrubs. The pebbled border adds texture, while a pair of planters and a bench breaks up the space and offers extra seating. It's a small escape, but it makes a big impact.

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Ground a Porch With Local Materials

Stone Porch
 Laurey W. Glenn

Local materials give this cottage porch a true sense of place. The front yard's stepping stones were crafted from local granite, while hand-hewn posts, railings, and brackets were made with regionally harvested locust wood. Local fieldstone covers the porch walls too. All these elements work together to strengthen this cottage's connection to its surroundings.

Tour the Mountain Cottage

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Make a Welcoming, Multi-Purpose Front Porch

Stylish Porch Foyer
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This breezy front porch doubles as the foyer for this coastal-style home. The sofa is flanked by lamps that look like sea-weathered wood washed up by the waves, warm-toned sisal rugs, and throw pillows with wavy and coral-like patterns inspired by the Atlantic Ocean. Palm plants and ferns call to mind sandy beach dunes and when these green shutters are open to the sun, their fronds and leaves wave with the wind.

Tour This South Carolina Coastal Retreat

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Frame a Porch for Unobstructed Views

Sunny Screened Porch
Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll, Scott Martin

The textures and colors of the furniture and flooring in this porch were chosen to complement the Spanish moss-draped live oaks outside. Blue and green striped upholstery and a spilling fern are in sync with the outdoor scene. The roof of this porch, which consists of translucent plastic panels attached to wood framing, mimics the hut's roof and provides natural light and unobstructed views of the area's romantic marshlands.

Tour This Quonset Hut Makeover

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Watch the Sunset With the Right Set Up

Sunset Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This second-story porch is an extension of the master suite and offers a great view of the surrounding land. The upholstery, rug, and container plantings are tied together in apricot, terracotta, rust, moss, and lime green hues. A copper light fixture complements the warm wood accents. The chairs and table for two make a comfortable spot for sipping sweet tea while watching the sunset. Lively plants complete the scene.

Tour the Covington, Louisiana, Idea House

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Refashion Antiques for a Lived-in Look

Vintage Brick Patio
 Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

The brick in this patio came from buildings that were torn down in the area, giving the space a cozy, lived-in quality. Antique bricks, however, aren't uniform in size, so set them in sand, rather than concrete, for a relaxed and aged look. The orange tones in the bricks are pulled out by the deep terracotta wall behind. Modern furniture balances out the space against the heavy brick background and iron pieces.

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Bring Travel Inspiration Home

Texas Zen
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Inspiration for this dreamy deck was drawn from a trip couple Michael and Patti Rogers took to Bali. "We fell in love with the architecture there and wanted to find a way to re-create it here while still being true to this region," Patti says. Its clean lines straddle the threshold between classic and modern, making this space a peaceful in-between.

Tour This Zen-Inspired Backyard Deck

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Use Timeless, Porch-Perfect Pieces

Enclosed Porch
Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Floor-to-ceiling windows, a hanging porch swing, and bright fabrics create an outdoor feel for this enclosed screened porch. A soft ocean blue hue washes the ceiling in a nod to Gullah tradition, while deep, honey-colored wood accents warm up the airy space. Rocking chairs with cushions in a mix of patterns instills a timeless porch scene.

Tour the Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, House

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Build a Magical, Canopied Dining Room

Canopy Patio
Tria Giovan

A10-foot-wide by 30-foot-long iron pergola sparked this patio transformation. Then, wisteria was planted, which over time turned into a lush canopy overhead. The area is eye-catching all year round, but when the wisteria blooms, it becomes downright magical. An outdoor fireplace constructed from cinder blocks, lined with fireproof brick and covered in stucco, anchors the space.

Tour the Birmingham, Alabama, Patio Makeover

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Create an Oasis With a Sunken Terrace

Garden Oasis Patio
Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson

This 20- by 20-foot terrace sits about 2 feet lower than the surrounding grade. Stepping down into it feels like entering a room, a sophisticated secret garden escape. Oklahoma flagstones cut into various-size rectangles form the floor, grounding the space and giving it a sense of age, history, and romance. A low stone wall around the terrace adds a sense of enclosure—while maintaining the open, untamed feel of the space—and it also offers extra seating. Maple trees flank the space, offering shimmering shade on a sunny day, plus a showy leaf change when summer gives way to fall.

Tour This Garden Oasis Patio

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Use Dark Furniture to Anchor Design

Charming Southern Front Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

High ceilings are the name of the game in this charming front porch design by Muffie Faith of Elizabeth Stuart Design in Charleston, South Carolina. The dark wicker furniture grounds the design, maintaining continuity with the flooring and slatted shutters, which open up to smooth Lowcountry breezes. Bright accents add a tropical punch.

Tour This Charleston, South Carolina, Front Porch

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Try Unexpected Flooring

Freestanding Summer House Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Architect Norman Askins and interior designer Craig Duncan created this sophisticated summer house patio in Atlanta. Inspired by the work of designer Dorothy Draper, they added bamboo picture molding to the mirror and tricked out the floor in a retro black-and-white check. Coral side tables and blue cushions provide the right amount of pop to the otherwise neutral color scheme.

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Get Tropical With Palms and Lime Green

Lush Loggia Patio
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Miami designers Mimi McMakin and Ashley Sharpe of Kemble Interiors were inspired by the surrounding gardens and vintage Palm Beach style when they created this tropical patio. Verdant leafy palms frame the central seating space, anchored by a bright green sofa and warm woven chairs. A lime garden stool—a favorite of porches, patios, and gardens everywhere—offers additional seating or a perch for a cocktail to this lush loggia patio.

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Stripe the Deck and Hang a Chandelier

Treetop Terrace with an Open Deck
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Give plain decking an instant upgrade by painting stripes with durable porch or floor paint like designer Michelle Nussbaumer of Ceylon et Cie did with this Dallas terrace. The evergreen combination of blue and white pattern mixing, iron patio furniture, and a lattice screen plays classic elegance against the natural setting. A reclaimed, repurposed chandelier is hung from above, offering light on evenings spent in the tree canopy.

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Instill Elegance With Cool Tones

Elegant Colonial Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

With its natural palette, the bluestone floor blends right in with its outdoor surroundings. Plus, it stays cool in the summer and lasts forever. Keeping all of the furniture the same style allows its defining lines to have a stronger impact in the small space. The cool-toned ocean blues of the ceiling, sofa, floor, and accents lend a peaceful, dreamy quality to the otherwise traditionally designed space. Patterned pillows and vibrant purple and green plants pop against the cool blues. Symmetrical design adds a sense of order, with matching lamps and ferns in bold containers flanking the sofa, plus two matching chairs with whimsical patterned cushions facing the sofa space.

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Go Gothic With Intricate, Bold Pieces

Gothic Farmhouse Porch
Photo: Paul Costello

It's easy to be convinced that this screened porch has been a fixture there since the house was originally built in the mid-19th century. But that's the genius of homeowner Furlow Gatewood. When he added the screened porch just a few years ago, it was important to him that it match the house and evoke its 19th century origins, so he worked with his builder to copy the latticework columns on the front of the house and the exterior board-and-batten walls. And because he just happened to have a pile of salvaged shutters on hand, he decided they would make ideal walls between the columns.

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Keep the Landscape the Focus With Tranquil Tones

Breezy River House Porch
Photo: Melanie Acevedo

Nothing says "Southern home" quite like an endless front porch. It's irresistible and inviting, especially when it looks as subtle and seamless as this one. Nestled into the hipped roof's overhang and accented with louvered shutters on one end, this shady spot features all of our porch must-haves: an iconic hanging swing for leisurely afternoons, simple white wicker furnishings, and a tranquil color scheme that doesn't distract from the lush landscape surrounding the home. Cool-toned beige shutters bordering the home's four sets of French doors add just the right amount of sophisticated contrast to the silver roof and white porch.

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Cover a Basic Floor With Seagrass Tiles

Sew-and-Go Carpet Screened Porch
Laurey W. Glenn

Small seagrass squares form a wall-to-wall carpet over a linoleum floor in this green, screened porch. Seagrass is extremely durable, making it a sturdy choice that can withstand kids trailing in and out on the way to the river. The natural flooring blends beautifully with the chestnut-brown wood and rattan furniture, grass green accents, and vibrant painted ceiling.

Learn How to Paint Your Porch Ceiling

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