“I return to my front porch to find the place where the air smells sweeter and the sun feels warmer than at any other bend in life’s long road.” John Sarris
The origin of the porch dates all the way back to prehistoric ages. In some way, porches have popped up throughout history including Ancient Greek and Roman eras, but they really came to the forefront during the Victorian era. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the term porch often referred to a closed-in vestibule at the front or rear of the home where the wealthy entertained. A few decades later, the term front porch took on a new architectural meaning in the United States. In America, the porch became an extension of the home; a place where its inhabitants could gather after a long day of work or school to unwind. The front porch became a meeting place for family and friends. It was an outdoor living room, allowing families the ability to comfortably commune with nature and their neighbors.
After World War II, the front porch began to slowly disappear from newer home designs and was all but extinct by the 1960s. Historians point towards television and air conditioning as contributing factors to the decline of the front porch. Recently, the 21st Century is bringing back the lure of the front porch. Porches are reclaiming their once sought-after trend and are becoming hip again.
As the warm weather slowly returns or heats up, remember spring is a time to show your front porch a bit of TLC to give it a new outlook on life.
Bring the Living Room Outside
Too much screen time isn’t good for anyone. What better way to encourage everyone to disconnect each day then by heading out onto the front porch? Take a page from American front porches of old by bringing the living room outside. Adding rocking chairs with all-weather cushions is a great way to make an inviting front porch. Go classic with white wooden rockers and position the chairs on either side of the porch or line them up, depending on the size you have available. This vintage arrangement never goes out of style.
Another fun way to cozy up your front porch is by making a living room complete with a sofa and coffee table. Placing an outdoor rug will bring pull this conversation area together as will book-ending the layout with a comfy chair on each side of the sofa. Wicker is a timeless choice for front porch furniture. Jazz up your outside living room with fluffy pillows just like you would indoors.
A simple way to brighten up any front porch is to add a splash of Mother Nature. Plants and flowers are an easy fix for a drab porch, spreading a little sunshine. Placing potted plants to frame the doorway instantly brings color to your front porch and improves your home’s curb appeal. Geraniums and impatiens are two classic front porch plants as are ferns. Remember front porch flowers must love the shade or need partial sunlight to flourish. They also require watering and fertilizer just like garden plants.
Planters are another delightful way to inject a charming touch to your front porch. Install a simple window box planter beneath each front porch window, filling with brightly colored flowering plants that enjoy the shade. Hanging flowers and plants can be challenging to water, but they are worth the extra effort. Petunias, black-eyed Susan vines, wandering Jews and pogonias are perfect picks for hanging baskets.
As the seasons change, so do the plants. Deck out your front porch in mums for fall, daffodils, and tulips for the spring, and when Jack Frost comes calling, fill up those empty window boxes with evergreens until spring is in the air.
Part of the perks of having your own home is seasonal decorating. Whether it is scarecrows for fall, a spooky set up for Halloween or a bit of Santa overload come Christmas, adding seasonal and holiday highlights are a fun and relatively inexpensive way to keep your front porch fresh and welcoming.
If you are crafty and love DIY projects, create wreaths to hang on the front porch or the banisters. Even holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day present an opportunity to wrap your front porch in colorful delight. Pinterest offers up a wealth of wreath ideas, but if you aren’t artsy, shop around for seasonal and holiday porch accents like wreaths and signs.
Porch flags are a nice addition to front porch décor and can easily be changed up for seasons and holidays. If you’d rather not install a flagpole on your porch, go for a garden flag. Garden flagpoles come in different sizes as do the flags.
Dress up banisters with garlands fashioned with evergreens for the winter or colorful leaves for fall. Red bows are a sweet touch for Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
If your front porch is in need of a little sprucing up, there is a really simple fix, paint the front door. Typically, the front door is the first thing people notice when walking or driving by a home. Painting the front door with a bold, attention-getting color gives the porch a dramatic touch, adding to its roadside attraction.
Doors usually take a beating, especially if you have kids or pets. Homeowners often forget about yearly maintenance and cleaning. Make sure to set aside time to clean and sand the door before diving in with a coat of paint.
Red is certainly a bold statement for a front door, but before you go red or dab on any color to your front door, play with it by hanging swatches or color samples on the door. Choose a color that complements the other hues on your porch, deciding on one that makes the front door pop.
Who says drapes are only for the indoors? If you’re searching for a way to complete the outdoor living room look on your front porch, add drapes. Outdoor curtains are a chic way to give your front porch some stylish shade as well as a little privacy, especially if you have a seating area. Just like in the home, drapes let the sunshine in or keep it out. The same is true for porch curtains. You can draw them to curl up to read or sneak in a catnap or pull them aside when children are playing or you want to enjoy the view.
Hanging porch curtains is a fairly uncomplicated do-it-yourself project that really adds an element of coziness to the front porch. You’ll also find a delightful selection of outdoor curtains in different styles and textures. There are several options when it comes to hanging porch curtains. If there’s a particularly sunny side of the porch, consider only hanging one drape on that side of the porch. Another option is doing both sides of the seating area or hanging smaller curtains to make a frame around the porch’s entryway.
The front porch has a firm place in architecture as well as in American history. Even in today’s tech-centered busy world, folks crave the peace and tranquility front porches are famous for and those without are always a bit envious when viewing a home with a stunning front porch.