Front Porch Makeover
Make a grand statement in the steps leading to your door
Article By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
Your front porch serves as more than a practical portal into your home. It also makes a statement about your style, sense of design, and hospitality. Overlook this key exterior area and you’ll miss out on an opportunity to improve your abode’s curb appeal and enthuse visitors.
“It’s crucial to make a positive first impression at the entry of your home; this sets the tone of what’s inside,” says Kelli Kelliher, owner of Design Quest Interior Styles & Staging in Auburn, New Hampshire. “This area is the threshold of the imagination. You want to draw visitors in. The design and décor of your front porch can either get them excited and eager to enter, or leave them feeling hesitant and pessimistic.”
Michelle Ellis, owner of Tullahoma, Tennesse-based Cottage and Bungalow, says a front porch that emphasizes relaxation and enjoyment can add a positive holistic feel to your home. “You want to create a front porch that’s welcoming for guests and the community but mostly for yourself,” she says. “It’s easier to do this when the weather outside is nice.”
Theodore Beasley, a London-based professional landscaper, echoes that sentiment.
“As the sun sheds more light on your home, it’s easier to see any imperfections and damage. There’s no time like the present to give your porch a nice cleaning, new coat of paint, and design update,” says Beasley, adding that this should be a top priority if you’re planning to list your home for sale anytime soon. “Front porches can make or break a property for sellers. First impressions are what buyers remember the longest.”
Whether you plan to stay put or soon unload your property, it pays to focus on five key front porch areas, according to Ellis: paint, lighting, seating, textiles, and décor.
“A fresh coat of paint always improves the look,” Ellis says. This can include your decking, posts and railings as well as the ceiling, if you have one.
“Try to choose colors that pair well with your home’s body and trim colors. You can select darker shades in the same family or contrast with an accent hue that pops, allowing your home to stand out,” Sara McLean, color specialist/stylist with Los Angeles-headquartered Dunn-Edwards, says. “Then, use one or two accent colors to tidy up posts, your mailbox, fences, and shutters.”
“Installing a fabulous new front door is a great way to up your front porch game. But replacing your door can be pricey; painting it is an inexpensive alternative,” McLean says. “Your door is a place to have fun with color. Teal, yellows, and grass greens are popular, along with midnight blue. Take into account the style of your home. Charcoal pairs well with a contemporary home, blending with metal accents. On the other hand, a New Mexico Adobe style would look smashing with a turquoise or coral-colored door.”
If your decking is old, rotted or damaged, consider replacing with new wood.
“Pressure-treated pine is fine for porches, as it’s durable, non-expensive, and weather resistant. But redwood or cedar, while slightly more expensive, are more attractive and can be stained instead of painted,” Beasley says.
Additionally, make sure your porch is well-lit.
“It adds to the ambience, but it’s also a safety matter to discourage break-ins,” Ellis says. “Consider installing a hanging lantern or lit sconces on either side of the front door to set a cozy tone.”
When it comes to porch furniture, remember that too many items can clutter the area.
“If your porch is large enough, you can add weatherproof seating, preferably made of teak, aluminum, outdoor wicker, concrete, or powder-coated materials. Just a rocking chair or cozy wicker chair with a side table is enough if you don’t have a lot of space,” Ellis continues.
Outdoor fabric-rated cushions and pillows can add color, and throws can safeguard skin from a cool afternoon breeze or chilly evening.
Pots and containers filled with flowers or plants hanging off your railings or lined on the stairs will add a nice crowning touch.
“Verbena, Cape Daisy, petunias and pentas work well for a sunny porch. Fuchsia, coral bells, and begonias work well for a shady porch,” Ellis says.