No matter what size porch you have, know that this outdoor space is teeming with design opportunities. "For me, a porch is to a home what an epigraph is to a novel, setting the mood and foreshadowing what is to come," says interior designer Liz MacPhail. "And it doesn't have to be big to set the stage." Along with adding livable square footage to your home, even the smallest of porch spaces provides us with a place to retreat outdoors. "Having a space to step out for fresh air is a true luxury," says Dominique Fluker of DBF Interiors. "Even if your porch is small, there are ways to turn it into a space where you can work, relax, or read."
Fortunately, with the right furniture and décor, you can maximize any size porch. From seating ideas to the right kind of lighting, here's how interior designers suggest taking advantage of limited square-footage.
Consider Hanging Seating
A comfy outdoor lounge chair can turn a small porch into a cozy nook in no time. "Opt for one great chair versus a subpar pair," Megan Hopp advises. "A small porch will look so much cleaner with one sizable chair to fill the space that is a dream to sit in, as opposed to squeezing in two smaller, less comfortable seating options that no one will end up wanting to land on." For a small porch-friendly chair that's every bit as comfortable as it is stylish, Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo says you can't go wrong with a swing chair or hanging bench. "A hanging chair helps free up space for a side table and décor accessories, as well as additional seating."
Paint Your Floor
While it may be tempting to cram your screened-in porch or sunroom with furniture, MacPhail says to be realistic about what can fit—especially if the porch isn't fully open-air and feels less expansive. If you've already maxed out room in this area of your home, she suggests painting the floor to elevate your space rather than adding more furnishings or decorations. "We love a painted porch floor in a fun color or graphic pattern. If you're DIY prone, check out an online tutorial video on how to paint a graphic design on your porch floor for a fun accent," she says.
If you have a small screened-in porch that protects your furniture from most of the elements, you can get creative when it comes to choosing what you want to add to your space. MacPhail recommends adding a few vintage treasures to this area of your home. "Iron table and chairs with an upholstered cushion in a fun fabric, a rattan daybed with a newly refreshed mattress slipcover, or a small antique side table (that serves as an easy place for morning coffee) are all great ways to incorporate vintage [pieces] and add personality and impact to a small space," she explains. This is also a great way to furnish your porch on a budget: MacPhail recommends checking out your local flea market or visiting a yard sale for antique finds.
Stick with Slender Furnishings
When you're working with limited porch space, Carneil Griffin of Griffin Direction Interiors says it's crucial to find functional furniture pieces that won't further cramp up the area. "Look for chairs and side tables with slim profiles but that are made of durable, outdoor-friendly materials, like powder-coated metal," he says. "This way, you can integrate more furnishings into the space without creating visual clutter. If you have room for more than one seat on your porch, Ariel Okin also says clean-lined rocking chairs are a great solution. "Thin rocking chairs always do the trick when you need additional seating," she explains.
Use Décor Strategically
When it comes to decorating a small porch, Okin says it pays to go vertical. "Instead of trying to squeeze a bunch of colorful accessories into a small porch space, consider painting the front door, or the porch ceiling, a bold color," she says. "You can also integrate a colorful outdoor rug or doormat to brighten things up without taking up valuable space." Of course, good lighting is also key: "Hanging lanterns and strings lights can create an ambient atmosphere when you don't have the wiring for wall sconces or overhead lighting," Fluker says.
No outdoor living space would be complete without a little greenery, and a small porch is no exception. "Along with providing shade and decorative interest, voluminous plants help create a sense of privacy on a small porch," Fluker says. "Hanging planters work great for this, especially when paired with big leafy, vining plants." If you don't have a porch ceiling to hang a planter from, Lynn Berney and Tracy Gould of LT Design Studios suggest showing off your plants in decorative planters to elevate the scene. "You can choose one color or style of pot or container to maintain consistency and uniformity," Gould says. While you may not need privacy if your small porch is screened-in, MacPhail says plants are still a go—and they're another budget-friendly decoration option. She recommends checking out big box stores for evergreens, or if you have a plant that needs re-potting, she says to visit your local flea market for potentially unique and marked down holders.
Keep the Space Neat and Organized
Above all else, Hopp explains that the most important thing you can do to make the most of a small porch is keep the space clean and mess-free. "My forever philosophy of fewer bigger things is so incredibly important on a porch as it entirely sets the scene for your home," she explains. "The last thing you want is a bunch of teeny tiny pieces cluttering up your space and thus welcoming everyone (and yourself) to your home with a chaotic vibe."