Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • April 6, 2019
It’s spring and if you are like me, the past few weeks of perfect Southwest Florida weather have you getting outdoors as much as possible. It’s the time to create or enhance your outdoor living space.
Because I was born and raised in the south, I love porches. Today, it can be a porch, a lanai patio or balcony if you are up a level.
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 and decisions 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’ve 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." And I love them all.
For years, I have helping my clients makeover their outdoor space as an extension of the home's living space. No matter what the size or budget. I hope a few of my tips will inspire you to move outdoors!
Don’t crowd your space. Decide what is most important. Dining? Relaxing? TV area? And plan the space accordingly with the appropriate sized furnishings.
Protect from water and sun. Purchase cushions with performance fabrics such as Sunbrella.
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 for atmosphere. If there is space, add an outdoor lamp, twinkly lights, a few lanterns.
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 retreat.
Purchase a new set of dishes, place mats, glasses. Add some color with a few new table enhancements that will bring some fresh, new color to your space. Use them indoors as well. After all, we will soon be heading into summer so let’s make it easy!
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, Charleston and Key West. It’s believed to keep wasp and bird nests from forming because they confuse it with the sky. Two favorites: Benjamin Moore Bird’s Egg 2051-60 and Palladian Blue HC 144. I don’t know about the legend but I love the look.
Add some green. 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 year.
Go vertical. Hang a piece of artwork or sign on a wall. This makes it feel like part of your living space.
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 let the outdoors inside.
Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She helps homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and solves decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail email@example.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog