Nothing says Americana like a house with a porch. On the front, back, or side of the house, a porch is a place to relax and enjoy nature. A porch has a roof, making it suitable extra “room,” spring through fall. Envision sitting on a porch looking out over flowering gardens, smelling the fragrance of flowers or freshly cut grass, enjoying the birds and butterflies, and talking with passer-bys, even if just a wave of greeting. So how do you start the process of choosing porch furniture?
Step One – Decide the Function of the Porch
Aside from knowing how much you want to spend, you needed to determine the function of this outdoor living space: dining only, seating only, or dining and seating. The area of the porch along with the location of the door will determine which of the three will work.
Step Two – Decide the Furniture Style
You will find through internet browsing or trips to the super home improvement stores, that there are three basic styles for outdoor furniture: wicker, wood, and metal. Each of those three can be real or synthetic material to look like the real thing. Synthetic is usually less expensive and may last long because it can more readily endure the blows of nature.
Step Three – Choose a Color Palette
Wicker and wood can be natural, stained, or painted. When it comes to metal, color options are limited when buying new furniture from the store, but it too can be painted. The option to paint gives you lots of opportunities to create a unique living space.
Adding fabric to your outdoor space will contribute to making the area seem like a room of your house, even without walls. There are fabrics that can endure life outdoors, making fabric a good choice over sticky vinyl seat cushions. Decide if you want to go with solids, stripes, patterns, floral, or a combination.
Step Four – Create a Plan
With the dimensions of your porch laid out on paper, determine what size of furniture will fit the space to meet the need you identified in Step One. If you choose to have a table for dining, consider how much distance is needed between the table and the wall or railings. You should factor in at least two feet between the table and walls/railings to be able to pull out a chair. On a small porch, that table might be for only two, or perhaps can seat four, but with the “dining and seating” concept, two of the four seats are comfy, large chairs from the seating area.
For seating, keep the scale appropriate to your porch size. The path from the sidewalk across the porch and to the door should be clear, not an obstacle course. A loveseat or two large arm chairs can work for small porches. If you have lots of space, mix loveseats or sofa-length seating with large arm chairs.
Include small tables for setting beverages and plants. Outdoor lighting is also available to withstand the elements, including floor table lamps with weighted bottoms. Consider using a flat-top trunk as a coffee table or side table to use as storage for blankets on chilly evenings, or a place to store pillows.
Fabric exposed to sunlight will fade. You can extend the brilliant life of fabric by storing pillows and cushions indoors or in trunks on your porch; trunks make great tables and additional seating.
Synthetic furniture (plastic, polymers, etc) are usually less expensive than what they are imitating: wood, metal, wicker. In addition, synthetic is easy to clean with soap, water, and a brush.
Don’t forget the wall as you decorate your outdoor space. Plants hanging from decorative wall-mounted arms and a whimsical thermometer are possibilities. Curtains (non-vinyl shower curtain fabric) or bamboo blinds can be used to block out unwanted direct sunlight or to give privacy. A small water feature, like one that will set on top a side table, can add a soothing sound (remember, you’ll need an electrically outlet). Add a sisal rug in the seating area for extra charm and easy care (hose clean).
The ultimate porch will have an overhead ceiling fan to keep air moving.
If you shop at a super store, you will be able to matching pieces together. Take a measuring tape with you to confirm that pieces you like will fit your plan. Don’t overlook shopping at garage sales or thrift shops. Keep in mind that you can paint and buy new cushions for whatever furniture you find.
Here are some low cost suggestions for your porch furniture when you are not going with a big-store set:
Small or large, your porch seating can look quite inviting with two white rockers. Add a pillow or seat cushion for a touch of color. Provide small square or round tables for beverages or houseplants.
Go simplistic and hang a hammock or porch swing, or place out a chaise lounge and a comfy guest chair.
Place four tub-style or broad armed wicker chairs around a table for a conversation area.
A bistro glass top table with metal chairs can make a lovely place for morning coffee and cereal.
For a really small porch, go for a storage bench to create a space to sit while taking off wet shoes, boots, or skates.