Add decorative structures to make the most of your outdoor space.
<p>[BLANK_AUDIO] Hi, I'm Jennifer Cuff, home editor at Southern Living. We all love wide open spaces. But since your porch is really an outdoor room, you should give it some boundaries. Simple stately columns don't detract from the feeling of openness. But definitely define the space. This option works well with narrow porches and when you plan to keep your furniture facing outward. For more structure, pair your columns with railings. Partial walls called me walls provide privacy. But still allow you to have open air and a great view. The walls also serve as a nice backdrop for furniture. Shutters provide interesting architecture and great versatility. Keep them wide open to invite in the sun and cool breezes. And keep them closed when you need privacy and protection from the elements. [MUSIC] Louvered doors also have that same utility, plus they lend to the nostalgic beach shack look. [MUSIC] Curtains are a pretty way to frame your porch, and also add softness to the hard edges walls and columns often have. Be sure to choose an outdoor fabric that will hold up to the elements. To make your porch feel the most like a room, use screening. The feeling is more enclosed and usually a bit more casual, but if it extends the time you can be outside, it's well worth it. It's also the best choice if you live in a buggy climate. Once you decide the shape and style of your porch, it's time for embellishment. There are endless options of railings and balusters and each adds a different personality. Rot iron railings give you an upscale traditional look that compliments brick or stucco homes. Remember, you can be as simple or ornate as you like with the design. Natural wood and twig railings are the perfect choice for cabins and other rustic settings. Classic white wood balusters evoke the look of iconic Southern farmhouse and cottage porches. They pair nicely with materials such as painted clap board or siding. Cut outs and other carved details lend even more cottage appeal. If you don't find something you like consider having a local craftsman create a custom design. For a modern setting or if you want protection but don't want to obstruct your view consider panels of clear safety glass. [MUSIC] When designing your porch, it's also important to consider how your outdoor space will relate to your interior spaces. Often, the front porch may only connect to your interiors by the front door, but there are many other options to enhance the connection. A pair of French doors that opens directly onto a porch is an effective way to bring the outdoors in. [MUSIC] This also works in reverse and allows you to expand your interior living space. A kitchen suddenly feels much larger when you pair it with a porch ready for dining. [MUSIC] It's a relatively easy and affordable conversion to replace existing windows with doors. [MUSIC] And the results are well worth it. Just be sure to visually connect the two spaces by using a similar color palette. For more ideas on designing your perfect porch, pick up a copy of Southern Living and visit southernliving.com</p>