The Dos and Don'ts Of Porch Decorating, According To The Pros

Sometimes, less is more.

We all know that there's nothing more Southern than a front porch. Front porches come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, from a 660-square-foot cottage to a historic Mississippi farmhouse. A porch can make a big (we're talking huge) difference in a home's look and feel.

White House with potted pink and purple hydrangeas
Robbie Caponetto; Produced: Mark Thompson; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Optimize your sitting potential with the right design if you're lucky enough to spend your mornings, afternoons, or evenings on a porch. Your porches' style should work with the architecture of your home just as it does with your personality and lifestyle. While there are many ways to decorate your porch area, you should also avoid a few things to prevent it from looking incomplete or out of place. After all, curb appeal is essential.

To help you properly decorate, we reached out to Caron Woolsey, the founder, and principal designer at CW Interiors, to learn about her do's and don'ts for the ideal porch.

Don't Work Against Your Home

A picturesque porch design starts with the architecture of your home. "For a clean and polished look on your porch, create a design that works with the architecture of your home; not against it," Woolsey says. "This seamlessness allows one to appreciate the whole of the outdoor space, without having to reconcile two very different aesthetics." As tempting as the boho aesthetic may be for a sun porch, it will look out of place paired with a modern farmhouse layout and decor inside your home.

Do Mix Textures for Personality

Woolsey recommends maintaining your home's primary design while switching minor details if you want to change or add elements from different design styles to your porch. For example, if you have a traditional home hoping to incorporate modern style, choose furniture with clean lines but keep the color palette soft. You could also approach a switch in aesthetics by choosing classically designed furniture with contours while adding a rug with geometric patterns for a modern touch.

Don't Forget Storage

Add functional furnishings, like benches with hidden storage or rolling carts, so you can hide all your garden supplies when entertaining. Outdoor spaces serve many purposes, so find a way to cleverly disguise garden tools, children's toys, or miscellaneous equipment so you can still have a serene porch environment for enjoying a morning cup of coffee or late-night cocktails with friends.

Do Avoid Clutter

Whether your style is eclectic with treasures carefully arranged on every surface or is polished minimalism with every chair in its place, Woolsey says that your porch design is all about balance. Even with an expansive wrap-around porch, don't clutter your outdoor living space with too much furniture. Like your interior design, your porch should reflect your personality and serve as a retreat to connect you to nature.

Don't Neglect What You Add

Be sure to add plants to your front porch—you know we're suckers for a dramatic container garden. These containers continue your garden landscaping and help illuminate the beautiful blooms planted in your yard. Adding plant species that will thrive in your growing conditions is also essential. Plants that love full sunlight will not tolerate porches completely positioned in the shade. Also, specific porch elements can make using it more enjoyable, such as outdoor pillows, an area rug, and a citronella candle to keep flies away.

Do Add Outdoor Specific Products

To extend the life of your outdoor furniture and decor, clean them before the weather gets warm and store any fabrics, even if they are weatherproof, to maximize their lifespan. Also, indoor pillows will not tolerate weather conditions like outdoor-specific furnishings. This rule is the same for dining plates and glasses. Simplify outdoor entertaining and patio aesthetic by leaving delicate glasses inside.

Don't Forget About Lighting

Porches are great entertainment venues, so don't ignore lighting, especially if you plan to entertain for dinner parties. Depending on your porch's set-up, add a string of lights or chandelier to illuminate the space. Temporary lamps are also possible options for patios with access to outlets when hosting guests on a rain-free evening. Lighting doesn't need to be electric. Things like firepits, candles, or torches can offer some much-needed light.

Do Remember the Fences

If your yard has a retaining wall or fence bordering the landscape, these are excellent opportunities to infuse some personality into your outdoor spaces. Try training vines or climbing plants to crawl over the wall or add hanging baskets to add more colorful blooms to your backyard. Switch the flowers to match the seasons.

Don't Be Afraid of Prints

Outdoor furnishings are an excellent way to add colorful prints and patterns to your home's decor. Try using a calming color scheme in one hue, but mix and match patterns for a lively space. Mark the space with an outdoor area rug and use appropriately sized furnishings.

Do Avoid DIY Disasters

It's tempting to get creative with your outdoor decor, but sometimes the DIY installation you've seen online is a lot more challenging than it looks. Be mindful to include elements that add personality to your patio without investing in a project that will never be complete.

Now that you've learned the secrets to an effortless porch design, it's time to focus on which refreshing drink you'll serve your guests.

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