One-of-a-kind details and punchy colors set this outdoor room apart.

Fresh Porch Style
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

To see some of the best rooms in the South, it's not always necessary to set foot inside. No matter what you call your outdoor living space--porch, terrace, courtyard, deck--trust us, it has incredible potential. So if you're not using every square inch, follow these expert tips.

Privacy, Please
Washington, D.C., architect Bruce Wentworth aimed for a Colonial Revival style for his porch. Tuscan columns border the space, with metal-and-tempered glass railings running between them on two sides. This supersmart pairing makes the area feel more private and enclosed yet still open to the backyard garden, which was planned by landscape designer Mark White. The railings don't actually touch the columns; they're freestanding. Why? To avoid straight metal meeting curved wood, which can be an "unattractive intersection," to use architecture lingo. Along the south side of the patio, Bruce and his wife, Eryl, collaborated on a cool idea: They installed a panel of shutters, fixed at the top and bottom. By moving the louvers, they can better control the sunlight and breezes.

Enhance the Light
Having a covered porch is great when you want to outfit it with plush furniture, but you usually have to sacrifice light. Bruce thought of that and designed a skylight in the center of the porch's ceiling. Now sunlight illuminates the sofa and chairs. "I love that this is an 'in-between' room," says Bruce. "You're not completely inside but not completely outside, so you can sit out here any time of day."

Architect: Bruce Wentworth, Wentworth Studio, 8555 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 200, Chevy Chase, Maryland, 240-395-0705, Sofa and chairs by Lloyd/Flanders, Columns by Chadsworth's, Green and white striped outdoor fabric and green chenille outdoor fabric by Sunbrella,

"Fresh Porch Style" is from the June 2007 issue of Southern Living.