We spend a lot of time and money making the insides of our homes reflect our personalities and maximizing livability. Why not do the same for our front porches?
“Front porches are like the opening notes of songs,” Christina Poletto of Dovetailor Design Studio in Hudson Valley, N.Y tells Fox News. “They set the tone for the house and give a preview of what’s to come.”
Spring has definitely sprung, and porch season is nearly upon us, so you’ve never had a better reason to spruce up the scene outside your front door, especially if you’re selling your home.
“Many times when I show homes, people have already made up their minds about the house before we open the front door,” says Alexis Brill, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “First impressions are the most important impressions.”
Here are six ways to make your front porch-- and first home impression-- game stronger.
1. If You Create It, They Will Come
“In the South we like to ‘sit a spell’ on our porches,” says Paula Wallace, founder and President of Savannah College of Art and Design. “It’s our favorite way to receive guests: open air and open conversation.” South Florida-based landscape designer Fernando Wong agrees it’s the perfect setting for creating a sense of community, “It can be as simple as putting out café chairs and a small table.” Or, you can aim to seat parties of 12.
Family-owned and operated Sunnyland Furniture, the largest outdoor furniture store in Texas for nearly 50 years, reports seeing the trend evolve from two-person sitting areas to entire living-room spaces. Rocking chairs and Adirondack chairs continue to be classic choices, but benches work too, notes Chris Grubb, President of Arch-Interiors Design Group in Beverly Hills. “An outdoor seating area may get little use, but it instantly expresses how inviting your home is.” Of course, it’s important to be practical. “Porches are both places to congregate and often the entrance to your home,” says Felicia Feaster, Managing Editor at HGTV.com. “Make sure to leave a pathway at least four feet wide to allow people access to your entry.”
2. Plants Make Everything Prettier
“Plants carry a sense of nature from the front yard onto the porch,” says Grubb. What they require in maintenance they more than make up for in ambience. “I always adhere to the 80/20 rule,” says Wong, “Eighty percent of your plants should be strong and hardy while 20 percent should be dedicated to bringing color to the space.”
Houzz contributor Becky Harris recommends geraniums. “They’re a classic porch plant that never goes out of style and you can save them over the winter with very little effort.” For a more dramatic flair, Poletto suggests creating your own combination of containers with mixed shrubs and plants. “The key to a perfect container garden is to have a mix of tall textured plants (the “thrillers”), a grouping of everyday greens and flowers (the “fillers”) and some full vines to cascade over the edge of the container (the “spillers”)."
3. Don’t Forget the Floor
You may not be able to see it from the curb, but your porch’s flooring is important since style works from the ground up. “Dress up a boring concrete porch slab by scoring and staining it to give itan upscale, tiled look,” says Danny Lipford, Host of Today’s Homeowner TV and Radio which details the process in this video.
Wong likes to marry indoor and outdoor spaces by using similar flooring material. For example, if the inside has hardwood floors, on the front porch he’ll use a porcelain tile that matches or complements the color of the wood. And no porch floor has to bare it all.
“We can't over emphasize how much of a difference a rug can make on porch,” says Deborah Holt of Sunnyland Furniture. “It adds instant appeal to any furniture arrangement, feels great on bare feet and is a great way to hide any flaws your porch might have.” But make sure you’re shopping for rugs that can handle the elements and won’t fade in the sun or be susceptible to mold and mildew.
4. Give Your Door a Makeover
Consider your front door a black canvas and take a page from Dublin where doors are splashed with every color of the rainbow. “Start by painting the front door (two coats) with a nice, hi-gloss paint,” recommends Cheryl Eisen, President of Interior Marketing Group.
Poletto is fond of cheerful hues but says dark and dramatic can also do wonders for a home. “Keep the door color to a neutral greige (grey and beige combo) or black if your home is on the market,” advises Eisen. You can always add character with new hardware—house numbers and knockers—or décor like wreaths. “Why not treat every season like a holiday?” asks Poletto. “Just coordinate your wreath colors with the mood of the season. I.e. for spring, think bright pinks, purples and greens.”
5. Invest in the Right Lighting
Extend your living space, for longer, by installing appropriate lighting. For creating an atmosphere of entertainment and engagement, Wallace recommends installing overhead lights with dimmers or uplighting around the perimeter of your porch. If you just want to avoid a void of darkness, simply place a lamp on an end table by the door or hang an elegant pendant lantern.
“From the street, passersby see the inviting light at eye level and gain a sense of sanctuary. From inside a home looking out, it’s a satisfying feeling to fill the blank, black space outside,” says Wallace. When shopping for fixtures, go with oversized pieces since they’ll be seen in proportion to the house and you don’t want them to appear dwarfed. If you’re concerned about security, consider the Maximus Smart Security Light equipped with a motion detecting camera that uses WiFI to send live stream videos of people at your door to your smartphone. The light’s two-way speaker lets you even talk to your visitors.
6. Practice Hygge on Your Porch
Hygge—the Danish concept of being cozy—is quickly becoming a household term in America. Michelle Lee, vice president of merchandising for EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE, suggests practicing the art of hygge on your porch by starting a morning ritual of enjoying your coffee outside, wrapped in a cashmere throw and people watching, or light candles and come out at night in your favorite slippers to sit on the porch and star gaze. To make your sanctuary even safer, paint your front porch ceiling a soft blue.
In the South, blue porch ceilings are a long-standing tradition thought to ward off evil spirits. “A few hues that work well include Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue HC-144, Arctic Blue 2050-60 or Clear Skies 2054-70,” says Andrea Magno, Color and Design Expert at Benjamin Moore. Good feng-shui also goes hand in hand with hygge. Wallace recommends adding an outdoor mirror which offers a multiplying effect for your plants, making your front-of-house retreat seem even more lush. “Exterior mirrors are also said to bounce back the cacophony of the street to maintain the serenity of the space."
Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she's not working, she's chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.