Making porches part of your living space

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • July 4, 2015

We're in those lazy, hot, humid days of summer but if you are at home on this Fourth of July weekend, chances are that you will end up on a porch someplace either relaxing, celebrating with friends over a meal or watching fireworks.

prett-white-with-american-flag-and-pink-flowers-ready-for-fourth-of-july

Maybe it's because I was born and raised in the south. But I love porches. When I was growing up, the "porch" was where the family headed after dinner.  I can hear my mother saying, "Help me finish the dishes and let's go out on the porch." It was where all important discussions anddecisions took place. Even though the "porch" was only a small cement stoop with a couple of aluminum chairs. It was still the place where we retreated at the end of the day. And so did all of the neighbors.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator,  I have had many "porches" since those days. Small apartment balconies barely large enough for two chairs,  front porches with comfortable wicker furniture, large lanais' with summer kitchens surrounding a pool and filled with friends.  But to me, they are all "porches."  A place to unwind, relax and think.

So, if in these hot, hot,  hot, days of July, you find your porch in need of a little makeover, I have some tips to give your space, no matter what the size, a little refreshing.  For years, I have helping my clients makeover their porches as an extension of the home's living space. No matter what the size or budget.

My favorite

Add a porch swing. What could be better than dozing in a porch swing at the end of the day? Find them at flea markets if you are looking for vintage, hardware stores or check out the Ballard Designs Sunday Porch Swing shown on this page. A porch swing just cries out, "Stop what you are doing and come and relax for a while." And if you find a vintage swing that just will not hold up to much weight, hang it any way and fill it with plants.

Dozing in a porch swing on a lazy afternoon. From Ballard Designs, this Sunday Porch Swing is hand crafted of 100% FSC eucalyptus to be naturally moisture and insect resistant, and finished in a warm whitewash. Photo: Ballard Designs.

Dozing in a porch swing on a lazy afternoon. From Ballard Designs, this Sunday Porch Swing is hand crafted of 100% FSC eucalyptus to be naturally moisture and insect resistant, and finished in a warm whitewash. Photo: Ballard Designs.

Anchor your seating area with an outdoor rug

Even on a tiny balcony this works and adds color to the space. It also makes it an extension of your home.

Lighting

If there is space, add an outdoor lamp.

Add a bar cart

Yes, it's great for a party but you can also use it for storage...liquid refreshments,  cups, stirrers, coasters, books, magazines, speakers, and anything else necessary for a relaxing afternoon.

Perfect for a porch: Pottery Barn's all-weather wicker bar console. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Perfect for a porch: Pottery Barn's all-weather wicker bar console. Photo: Pottery Barn.

 

Hang twinkle Lights

Arrange some strands of patio twinkle lights to transform your porch or patio into something special when evening comes. They make everything (and everyone) look pretty. And are very inexpensive.

Something blue

Paint the ceiling blue. Why? It's pretty and adds another dimension to your porch. Giving your own outdoor space a hint of blue is the perfect way to play into history, and it just might keep wasps and evil spirits away, too. According to the legend! Years ago, in the deep South, many people painted their porch ceilings a specific shade of Haint Blue, a soft blue-green, to ward off evil spirits called "haints." It's especially common in the historic homes around Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. And I can say that my own blue porch ceiling has kept the wasps away!

Paint the porch ceiling a shade of blue. It's pretty and legend says that it keeps wasps away! Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

Paint the porch ceiling a shade of blue. It's pretty and legend says that it keeps wasps away! Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

Invest in plants

Give it your personal touch with lots of greenery. If there is space, add some pots, a small tree and a vase or two of fresh flowers. Use perennials so you will not have to replace them each

Go vertical

Hang a piece of artwork, plants  or a mirror on one wall.

Tiny space? No problem!

Bistro table and chairs may be all that you need. No room for furniture? Fill your tiny balcony with plants and in the winter months in Southwest Florida,  let the outdoors inside. And if you are on a budget, or even if your aren't, you can get creative with furniture by turning crates on the side and using them for benches of plant holders.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog. And to see a selection of her favorite color palettes, go to www.pinterest.com/wrendagoodwyn