Porches…no clocks allowed

You’ve gotta love the guy who wrote, “Welcome to the porch…where wasting time is considered time well wasted.” Whether overlooking a garden, a flower-filled meadow, or kids drawing chalk art on a small-town sidewalk, porches are synonymous with leisure, where sipping lemonade, chitchatting with friends, listening to crickets, and waiting for sunsets can fill an hour or an afternoon.

Not so long ago, when folks sat on porches to cool off or to look after kids playing outside, porches and porch furnishings were more functional than festive. Times have changed. Now, whether front, back, side, wraparound, or front door stoop, porches are outdoor rooms to be decorated and enjoyed.

Think big. A tiny porch packs a big impact with its decorative railing and unifying white palette. Images by Diane Morey Sitton

Like gardens, porch styles range from formal to informal; décor varies from classic elegance to flea market chic. Popular in Texas, large, wraparound farmhouse-style porches often feature wood railings and simple furnishings. Think rocking chairs, porch swings, and wood benches. Traditionally, ceilings are painted “haint blue,” a custom believed to ward off evil spirits (known as haints) and to fool spiders and wasps into thinking the ceiling is the sky.

Taking sides: Lush plants in pots and garden beds add to the welcoming quality of this side yard porch.

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Nature lovers appreciate Bungalow-style porches’ open, spacious quality, use of natural materials, and reliance on rustic décor. Select twig or Mission-style furniture and hand-crafted lighting. Use of green, brown, sky blue, and other earth tones complement the natural scenery.

Pretty in pink. The art flower and cohesive color theme draw the eye from the garden to the porch.

Queen Anne style relies on elaborate fretwork, finials, spandrels, and spindles to replicate the painted ladies of the Victorian era. Use vibrant color combinations to accentuate architectural detail: even green, purple, and yellow are welcomed together in this heyday of over-the-top décor. Typically, Victorian porches are awash with wrought iron, wicker, cascading ferns, and potted topiaries.

Keeping it simple: This narrow porch beckons with matching rocking chairs and a small table.

Classical columns, symmetry, and a soft color palette of white, gray blue, and tan depict colonial style porches. Create their gracious allure with rocking chairs, settees, and planters. If you’ve got a grand porch, hang a chandelier; otherwise, use lanterns and wall sconces for subdued lighting.

In black and white: Red flowers accentuate this classic porch decorated in a black and white color palette.

Regardless of porch style, use outdoor rugs to define seating areas. Hang sun-blocking curtains, install retractable shades, and mount ceiling fans to help control comfort. Include tables to hold beverages and books. Pillows and potted flowers add color. Want sound; hang wind chimes. Want movement; display a flag or fly a banner. Need more action, suspend a hummingbird feeder from the eave.

When the decorating is done, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the smell of summer rain, the whisper of wind in the trees, and the flicker of fireflies. So, go ahead, waste some time. It will be time well wasted!

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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