With all the excitement of patios, decks and sunrooms, porches sometimes get left out in the cold. The front porch is essentially the bridge from the outer world to the interior of your home. It provides that first important impression about the house itself to family, friends, and the all-important prospective house buyers. Making over the porch can be done to suit a variety of budgets as well as needs and styles. The following suggestions may help you transform your porch from a simple stoop and steps to the most beloved part of the house.
Make Your Plan
There is a romance inherent to porch life--families drinking lemonade together on long summer afternoons or young couples swaying on a porch swing to the hum of evening crickets. Life on today's porches has not necessarily left those images of the slower-paced life behind, but it has expanded to fulfill other uses and designs. Before any makeover plans take shape, consider your budget. Then, assess your current porch and the style of your home. Your porch may only be in need of a style update and a few simple modifications. Or, you may want to knock it down and try again! Begin by considering these choices and then remove any objects or debris and give yourself a clean slate.
Compliment the House
If you are completely revamping your porch you will need to consider size, shape and materials. The house itself should be your guide when it comes to considering these. The larger the porch, the more opportunity you have for life outdoors--entertaining, relaxing, extra space for container plants, etc...Your porch may extend for the entire length of the house or it might wrap around the building and cover a portion of the structure's side. Additionally, you must decide if the porch will sit at ground level or rise above it making steps a necessity and a support structure necessary. Be sure to obtain the necessary permits before beginning to build.
Freshen up the Paint
If you decide to keep your current porch but want to spice it up a bit, consider new or freshly painted railings and repair any chinks or chips in the steps. You may want to paint the entire porch with a bright new color that compliments the house or add painted accents to the rails or walls of the porch. Keeping the porch's style a more classic and neutral color may better appeal to prospective buyers.
Keep the Rain Out
Making over the porch may even involve giving it a cover. Covered porches are wonderful for the shade and protection from rain they provide. Many porches are covered by the structure itself depending on the building, but you may cover a porch with awnings, pergolas and solid roofing materials. A porch cover is a functional feature as it protects you while sitting outside from the elements, but it is convenient when bringing home groceries in the rain or protecting porch props like furniture.
Pick Your Furniture
An expanded porch affords more space for container plants and furniture like chairs, swings or gliders. For a relaxed antebellum era porch, consider a sumptuously cushioned chaise longue or a small wrought iron table and chair set. For a more urban style porch, consider a sleek built-in bench or an Art Deco style plant stand. A large porch is an excellent place for company to mingle and serves as an expansion of the house itself. Furniture makes the porch into an outdoor room similarly to what a patio does for the home--only it must be somewhat more formal as it provides a more public view.
Stage the Props
Other props to include in your porch makeover might include: ceiling fan (for covered porches), new lighting features and fixtures, new house numbers (consider brass or wrought iron), matching rocking chairs, stone planters, a wall or stand-alone fountain (keep it simple and stately), various baskets, hooks for hanging plants, small tasteful statuary, etc... When curb appeal is your primary concern, opt for stone or wood features as opposed to plastic.
Set Your Plants and Landscaping
Finally, landscaping the porch is the final touch. Small shrubs or a series of rose covered trellises should be well kept and healthy for great curb appeal. Hopefully, there are not large trees to block your made-over porch. However, small ornamental trees like cherry trees can enhance the view from the porch and provide additional shade without hiding the view of your home. If your porch sits high, you may want to consider a section of short terraces filled with ornamental grasses or various perennials. Allowing the porch structure itself to double as a support for climbing plants and vines is another way to enhance your porch with elements of the garden.
Your porch should compliment your home and provide extra space to welcome guests and enjoy the front yard while swinging in a glider or relaxing in a vintage wicker palmetto chair. It's simply another place to set your decorating hands to work--and it's all in view of the street, making it potentially the star of the block and an attribute to your house's curb appeal.