Elements of a Charleston Piazza
Use our 6 design details to bring the look of these iconic side porches to your home.
The Welcoming Piazza
Walk throughout the Charleston peninsula, and you’re sure to see that iconic side piazza. This open-air porch often runs the length of a home and has multiple doorways leading indoors. Originally designed to beat the South Carolina heat by capturing the cool cross breezes from the water, piazzas are now integral parts of the city’s lifestyle. Charleston interior designer Muffie Faith, of Elizabeth Stuart Design, invited us to join her on the inviting piazza of John and Meredith Dunnan’s circa-1810 home just off the Battery, giving us a peek at the essential elements that make a porch undeniably Charleston.”
Welcome Your Guests
“The focal point of your porch should be a seating arrangement where you can come out, relax, and welcome your company,” says Muffie. Create an area filled with comfy wicker furniture in the traditional Charleston green, recognizable by its almost black color. Muffie recommends choosing low-maintenance materials, such as wicker-looking resin for the frames and outdoor or treated fabric for the cushions. Then throwing in a few luxuries, such as a pillow or throw, that can be quickly pulled inside when the weather turns bad. Iron-base tables with honed marble tops are the perfect sidekicks because they combine simple lines with elegant materials.
Dining on the porch is an essential part of outdoor living, so it’s important to have a table and chairs that are comfortable and stylish. Also, set the table just as you would inside. “Save plastic for a picnic,” says Muffie, “and bring out your good china.” Groupings of votive candles add romantic atmosphere.
Connect to the Garden
Surround yourself with lots of potted plants and flowers, such as ferns, palms, and orchids. “These help bring the garden up on the porch and blend the two spaces,” Muffie says.
Bring the Indoors Out
“Don’t be afraid to bring your interior furnishings outdoors,” she says. “Doing so blends your interiors and exteriors.” Bring your favorite lamp out for the buffet, hang a mirror to reflect a pretty view, or throw an embellished pillow on a chair.
Add Furniture With Function
Muffie advises that a low cabinet with doors, such as a sideboard, is the perfect piece for outdoor spaces because you can conveniently store all of your entertaining supplies inside and use the top as a buffet or bar. They are also great places to stash games and outdoor equipment. Worn wood finishes look right at home on the piazza and mean you don’t have to worry about the weather ruining your piece.
Save a Spot for Yourself
Choose a spot that lets you embrace the views, and be sure to have somewhere to put up your feet and set down your cup.
Lastly, Muffie says to change your porch as your needs or likes change. “Your porch shouldn’t be static,” she says. “Always try to have something reflective of the season, whether it’s low-maintenance succulents in the summer or a glass hurricane filled with white lights at Christmas.”