Life is better on the porch – by Diane Morey Sitton

Front porches were made for relaxation, sitting, visiting, taking in cooling breezes, and a calming lifestyle. All images by Diane Morey Sitton. Click image for larger view.

It’s hard to be sure, but when you’re sitting on the porch the lemonade seems sweeter, the breezes seem cooler, and the birdsong seems more melodious than usual. Even life’s challenges seem a little less daunting, their importance diminished by the rhythmic squeaking of a rocking chair or the friendly wave of a neighbor.

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There’s no doubt that porches have a way of slowing the pace and calming the spirit.

But whether your porch is casual farmhouse-style or a fancy throwback to the Victorian era, there are ways to make it even more comfortable and inviting. See the suggestions below.

Ferns and plant-filled urns create symmetry on this front porch. Click image for larger view.

1. Include plants. Grow them in pots, grow them in planter boxes on your porch railing, and grow them in hanging baskets. Add height by including tree-like selections; increase detail by placing small potted plants on tables and benches. Classic choices for shady porches include ferns, bromeliads, coleus and hostas. Sun-basked porches invite geranium, lantana and rosemary. For year-round greenery, include evergreen shrubs.

Pretty in pink describes this porch that is awash in flowers and color. Click image for larger view.

2. Add color. Paint the front door. Paint the steps. Paint inexpensive plastic or metal pots. If that’s not enough, follow tradition and paint the ceiling “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.

Ninety-two-year-old Lillie Helen Conner decorates her East Texas porch with vintage motel chairs. The custom-crafted wall art was a gift from family for her 80th birthday. Click image for larger view.

3. Provide seating. Create a cozy conversation area by tossing down an outdoor rug and adding comfortable seating. Accessorize with pillows. Install a porch swing. Include rocking chairs.

4. Think comfort. Cut the glare and cool the temperature by hanging sun-blocking curtains or by installing retractable shades. Add a ceiling fan, tower fan, standing fan or misting fan. In fall, provide outdoor blankets and throws. Add a small heater.

A fern-filled planter box helps frame this inviting setting.

5. Make life easy. Convenience is key. Include tables to hold beverages, books and binoculars. Use a small cabinet to store a notepad and pencil. Add a small fridge for snacks, bottled water and soda.

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6. Enjoy nature. Bring nature up close with hummingbird feeders. Install a birdbath nearby. Grow a pollinator garden adjacent to the porch to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Lure the winged beauties to the garden with purple coneflower, purslane and butterfly bush.

7. Turn night into day. Extend the leisure after sunset by wrapping twinkle lights around porch posts or by stringing them along the inside of the porch ceiling. Install sconces by the front door. Invest in table lamps or table-top lanterns.

A cohesive color theme ties together this house, porch and garden.

8. Delight the senses. Want sound? Hang wind chimes or use outdoor portable speakers. Want movement? Display a flag, fly a banner, or add a spinner. Enjoy fragrance: grow mint, thyme or other herbs in pots.

Personalize porches with signs and garden art.

9. Individualize the setting. Express your style with a doormat. Send a message with wall art or garden signs. Add stylish new street numbers. Display seasonal accent pillows.

When the decorating is done, it’s time to sit back, sip lemonade, wrap yourself in the breeze and hum along with a birdsong.

You’re on the porch … life just got better!

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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