The front porch is your invitation for a neighborly chat, or a convenient perch where you can observe the daily parade. Cottages and bungalows usually have front porches, and some are capacious enough to be extra rooms. Decorate yours to reflect the character of the house, match your exterior paint choices or indulge in a fantasy. Colors, furnishing and landscaping will work together to define your porch. And don't forget the unexpected things you can do with the roof.
Poetic Cottage Porch
The fairy-tale cottage comes with a front porch tucked under the eaves of the gabled roof and surrounded by English garden landscaping.Train rosebushes, honeysuckle and morning glory vines over the railings; decorate the porch with shabby chic-style castoffs from flea markets or your own attic. Paint the wood floor with oversize diamonds in pale jade and cream. Distress, whitewash and crackle glaze a table and porch swing. Dry-brush aging wicker chairs with generous swipes of pastel paint, or spray each chair a different pastel color: rose-petal pink, ice-blue, creamery yellow, mint and lilac. Hang plain white or painted paper lanterns and fairy lights from the roof during the clement months when you spend half your time outdoors. If the porch is large, add a small, shabby potting bench and make it your gardening headquarters.
Practical Bungalow Porch
A Craftsman bungalow porch is a down-to-earth affair with its brick or stone piers topped by solid geometric wood posts. A tongue-and-groove beadboard roof could be painted or varnished to protect it from the elements. A wood floor should be sealed -- it's a good idea to double up on the protective coating -- to withstand foot traffic as well as weather. Look for porch furniture as robust as the porch itself. Classic Adirondack chairs, stained and varnished or painted with enamel to match the house trim, are traditional, plain and practical. Toss a few striped canvas cushions on the chairs for extra comfort when the neighbors drop by to share a cool evening and a pitcher of lemonade. Faux stone or concrete planters, bright with an ever-changing array of spring tulips, summer impatiens and autumn marigolds or chrysanthemums, are not too fussy for an old-fashioned bungalow porch.
California Style Pergola
A bungalow porch in need of a new roof gets an update to California style with a sturdy pergola instead. Build the overhead beams to extend past the porch, and plant dense vines to cover them with green leaves and flowers in warm weather, evocative, twisted woody stems in winter. A pergola porch provides handy hangers for trailing plants, bright seasonal banners and holiday decor. Furnish the porch with wood that weathers to silver, just as the overhead beams do. If the bungalow is set back from the street, drape durable canvas curtains from the rafters on either end; place a picnic table on the porch, and use your entry for casual summer meals al fresco.
Vibrant Painted Porch
An insignificant cottage porch becomes a tiny paintbox of exuberant hues when every detail is picked out in a different color. Paint the siding chartreuse to contrast with the gray siding on the rest of the cottage. Outline window frames in cinnabar, and color the wood floor a deep, rich amethyst, sealed in high-gloss polyurethane. A tin roof is a charming touch that rewards you with musical rainfall. Color every rail of the porch in a kaleidoscope of Popsicle shades: cherry, blueberry, lime, tangerine, lemon, grape, watermelon and pink lemonade. Lots of glossy white on salvaged furniture forms a backdrop for a hodgepodge of cushions, patchwork-covered in chintzes, faded denims, stripes and nautical canvas. In a hot climate, green up the porch with a riot of tropical plants. A temperate porch rail might sport a line of potted pansies or African violets and a corner decorative palm or oversize drooping fern.
- Photo Credit Shawn Arsenault/iStock/Getty Images
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