Curb appeal

Freshen up visitors’ first impression with splashes of color and style

House of Furniture, photography by Jennifer Dodds Fox
House of Furniture, photography by Jennifer Dodds Fox
Lisa Schaefer and Lori Hamilton, co-owners of House of Furniture, photography by Jennifer Dodds Fox

Spring has sprung so it’s time to freshen up your home’s front entry for the season. No matter how big your front porch or stoop is, a bit of color and dimension will add loads of welcoming curb appeal. A front porch not only reflects the vibe and soul of the inside but also the home’s place within the neighborhood as a whole. Give your neighbors, passers-by, guests and your immediate family a stylish impression of your abode. You might even find yourself hanging out on the front porch, instead of the back deck or yard, by transforming it into an additional, gracious outdoor living space.

Identical twins Lisa Schaefer and Lori Hamilton, co-owners of House of Furniture, advise making your front porch “comfortable with furnishings that allow sitting, lounging, drinking, eating and napping. Tables and chairs, hammocks, serving carts, love seats or chaises” will add more usable and functional space to your home and perhaps even encourage more neighborly socializing. Schaefer and Hamilton say textures go a long way to adding color, beyond fresh flowers and pots. Think “pillows, area rugs, poufs, throws, outdoor art, cushions, candles and accessories.” House of Furniture stocks fun art and decorative elements, suitable for porches, in addition to a lovely assortment of big and small furniture. Painted side tables, seating options, cushions and coffee tables abound at House of Furniture.

For larger decor statements, Schaefer and Hamilton suggest homeowners incorporate a combination of “porch swings, awnings, flooring paints and techniques, built-ins, columns/column wraps, shutters or window boxes. The use and placement of lanterns, string or fairy lighting, candles, outdoor lamps and fire features can add warmth and ambiance to any porch. We love awnings for extensions on covered porches and for protection on uncovered porches. They can add color and elegance and become a statement piece of their own!”

Creating or upgrading your home’s porch can easily be completed in one weekend and can range from inexpensive touches to more luxurious fixtures and finishes. The larger the porch, the more options there are, but that doesn’t mean a small porch can’t make a big impact. The smallest of porches can at least accommodate a doormat, a potted plant and a decorative element, such as a lantern. Larger porches can become living spaces in their own right, with multiple pieces of furniture and substantial decorative elements.

Start by removing all existing elements from the porch, following up with a thorough cleaning. Paint or re-paint the porch floor and railings or columns, if necessary. Then, add in the functional and decorative layers from the floor up. An outdoor area rug adds warmth and texture and helps to define the space. Add the largest piece of furniture next, then build everything else around that. After placing all the larger elements, don’t forget the finishing touches. A few small pieces of accent decor can fill in the gaps and will help give a more polished, cohesive look. That said, take care not to add in too many elements or layers, or risk a cluttered, confused entry to your home.

Don’t forget to add living elements to your front porch. McNamara at Sand Point offers a massive selection of beautiful flowers and plants to fit every skill and budget. For black thumbs, they also offer plenty of faux options. In addition to botanicals, Sand Point offers plenty of decorative elements and a wide variety of pots and containers.

Front porch inspiration, right this way:

• Go boho with a mix of pots in different sizes, colors and styles filled with a variety of herbs and flowers. Add some illuminated lanterns and a few natural textures, by way of baskets and a funky new doormat.

• You can never go wrong with “ferns in urns”. This classic style always looks chic and with proper care, the ferns will last until Fall. Strive for symmetry here, with identical containers on either side of the porch, its steps or at the start of the walkway. As the seasons change, your urns will easily hold mums in the Fall, evergreens in the Winter and hearty early-season flowers come Spring. Take scale into consideration but err on the side of larger for the most chic statement. Likewise, potted, sculpted topiary trees give off a high-end look. Natural topiaries can take a long time to grow, develop and maintain, while durable faux options will last for years, with proper care, and look incredibly realistic.

• Add a brightly colored chair and side table for a comfy spot for morning coffee or evening cocktails. A cluster of suspended mason jars that hold tea lights (real or battery operated) add overhead light for dusk and beyond.

• Go for one bold statement piece like an oversized potted plant or decorative wall art or sculpture that will stand up to the elements.

• For a bit of whimsy, repurpose a vintage wagon into an herb garden. An old wooden soda crate can live a new life as a planter for pretty flowers.

• In addition to a gorgeous, metallic wind chime, suspend gilded and/or glass terrariums, at varying lengths from the porch ceiling and fill them with small succulents, with a large, durable mirror mounted on the exterior house wall behind. The combination of gentle sound, flashing hints of metallics and a bit of nature can add a magical vibe.

• If your porch is generously sized, add a comfy day bed, which makes for a perfect al fresco reading nook.

• Switch out your classic front porch swing for a suspended, rustic DIY pallet platform bench. Line with a thin outdoor mattress or a plush blanket and add a few toss pillows.

• If you need to create more privacy for your front porch, try a vintage folding screen and pair with variously-sized hanging plants at different lengths. Another option is a curtain of durable fabric clipped to shower curtain hooks on a tension rod, which can easily be pulled open or drawn closed to provide shelter from the sun or prying eyes. Also consider planting tall decorative grasses on the other side of the porch wall for added seclusion.

• For more permanent upgrades, consider painting your front door a new, contrasting color with a glossy finish, switch out house numbers or door knocker for a subtle yet fresh look or install a new decorative mailbox. Take into consideration the architectural style of your home when choosing new hardware.

• Channel the deep south, where homeowners traditionally paint porch ceilings a dreamy light blue, known as Haint Blue. Some believe it wards off evil spirits, while others swear it helps reduce flying insects. Either way, it’s a lovely look seen all over charming, historic cities like Savannah, Ga and Charleston, S.C. Try Sherwin Williams #6505 Atmospheric for your own southern-inspired porch ceiling.

RESOURCES
House of Furniture www.house-of-furniture.net
McNamara Sand Point www.mcnamaraflorist.com

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