by Randi Destefano, ASID
Outdoor living spaces, are becoming more and more popular and are a wonderful way to enjoy nature, relax, and watch the world go by. There was a time when a front porch was the place to greet your neighbors after dinner, or spend a lazy afternoon reading.
Today the nostalgia of the front porch is showing up not only in new in-town homes and walk-able neighborhoods, but in the way we use our backyards, screened porches, patios, and decks. What I’ve noticed is there are 7 key ingredients of a summertime porch that seem to show up again and again. Maybe you’ve discovered this too.
Every spring, as soon as the pollen slows down, I’m craving some time on our porch. You see, until a few years ago, none of the homes we lived in had a covered porch. Now I’m making up for lost time by dreaming, planning, and shopping to make even small improvements to what we have.
The best way to get started is by taking an assessment of what you already have. Do you still love your existing colors or would you love to have a brighter color combination? Ideas are everywhere, including photos of porches in magazines, social media, and websites. And don’t forget visiting decorator show houses!
Ask yourself, “what do I really want”? What do you want your porch to look like, feel like? And then let your imagination kick in.
Let’s get started!
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Southern Living Magazine
No matter how large or small the space is, seating is the first thing to consider. Whether you prefer a sofa and chairs, or only chairs, it’s your choice. Do you want a private space that’s just for your family? Do you want a cozy romantic area for two?
#2: Accent Tables
We all need a table to place a drink or a book while we’re enjoying our outdoor space. The size and number of tables you need is based on how many people will use the porch…and how much space you have.
Rugs are the anchoring point for any seating group. They pull everything together and create a more inviting space. An added bonus for using a rug is to cover up unsightly decking.
#4 Accessories to Make It Yours
Adding your own accessories will truly make the space your own. They also set the tone for how you want your porch to feel. Pillows, outdoor draperies, and flowers all add to a room that says “Let’s relax here.”
Everyone knows that plants and flowers add beauty to our spaces. But plants add a sense of calm to any space, and outdoor rooms are no exception.
Credit: Laurey W, Glenn; Southern Living Magazine
#6 Dining Table and Chairs
#7 Lighting (and a ceiling fan)
Summers can be hot, humid, and stifling, with no breezes to cool you off. When you include a ceiling fan into your porch design plans, comfort is always just a click away.
If have a fireplace on your porch, consider yourself blessed! Nothing says “cozy” like a roaring fire on a cool evening.
1. Grab a pencil and note pad and make a list of what you have on your porch. Then make a list of what you need.
2. Are you using any of these 7 Essentials in your outdoor living spaces?
2. Look for ways you can add some of these features to your own porch.
by Randi Destefano
We’re about to begin our first summer holiday. School is out for the year, and vacation is on everyone’s mind. When I think of summer, I immediately have visions of relaxing on the porch with a cool drink and a really exciting book. So, in honor of National Historic Preservation month, I thought it would be fun to explore our obsession with painting the ceilings of our porches blue. I’ve been curious about a certain blue used to paint the ceilings ever since my daughter’s friend used it on her porch.
I’ve done a little research, and found some juicy information about this historical color. I learned that Haint Blue is based on spiritual and cultural beliefs – especially in the South Carolina Low Country with the Gullah culture. Haints are restless spirits of the dead who haven’t moved on from the physical world. They definitely aren’t the friendly ghosts you want to have around. The belief is that since Haints cannot cross water, painting your ceiling, shutters, doors, floors, or window trims will discourage them from “crossing” into your house.
The original paints were mixed as milk paint using a lime base and some pigments. The interesting thing is that they used whatever pigment was on hand at the time. So we have no record of an official Haint Blue color. Paint tests on historic houses have given us records, but nothing uniform from house to house. Basically, Haint Blue ranges from blue-green to blue-violet. Historic Preservationists have come up with their own formulas that you can discover using a quick Google search.
As I sit admiring my bouquet of beautiful blue hydrangeas, I’m reminded that the color or shade you choose needs to be one that makes you happy and feels good to you. But the next time you see a historic house, be sure to check out the porch ceiling. You might just find a new shade of Haint Blue that you love!
by Randi Destefano
I have porch envy! Even though our home has a very cozy, spacious screened-in porch with peaceful views of the lake, I would love to have a front porch. Not the kind of porch that only has enough space to decorate for the seasons and greet our guests. But a front porch where you can sit on a hot summer afternoon with a glass of lemonade and greet your neighbors as they pass by. A front porch that evokes small town life. Because to me, warm weather bliss starts on your front porch. It’s a way of life.
Do you have certain feelings that bubble up when you hear the words “front porch”? Maybe you think cozy, comfortable, welcoming? What about neighborly and community? There are so many things that make a front porch appealing and bring back memories of days gone by. But for me, the secret ingredient is to choose your function first. If you love hosting parties, set up your porch as a second dining room. If you love to spend the afternoon curled up on a porch swing with a good book, then cozy seating is for you.
Here are my 5 ways to give your porch a country-style update this summer.
Plant flowers in re-purposed vases and containers – Before you run out and buy something new, shop your basement, attic, or cabinets. And then visit flea markets and antique shops where you’ll almost always discover the perfect treasure for your porch.
Display some unique flea market finds. – Here’s an example of a uniquely re-purposed oil can. Filled with LED string lights, it’s the perfect element to brighten evenings on your porch.
This colorful front porch is filled with flea market treasures. Everything about this porch invites you to come sit for a while and enjoy the day. And, of course, who doesn’t love hydrangeas?
Use a vintage signs as wall art. – This one, though not exactly vintage, was handcrafted and made to look old. Do you have old wooden tennis rackets or canoe paddles? Hanging a grouping of old things that are special to you is another way to make your porch your own.
Add mirrors to reflect light and bring inside elements outdoors. – Our outdoor living spaces have become extensions of the inside of our homes. So adding elements like rugs, lamps, and mirrors make us feel right at home on the porch.
Add a cozy place for dining – Who doesn’t enjoy having morning coffee on the porch watching the day come to life? Or maybe sitting with family at the end of the day sharing stories. Do you notice the blue ceiling? It’s often referred to as Haint Blue, a color to ward off evil spirits, especially in the South. If you’d like to learn more about it, click on the link to my blog post.
Even though I get a little bit of house and porch envy when I tour a home show or visit my friends, it’s always nice to come back to my very own happy place. Because…
by Randi Destefano
Summertime means spending a lot of time outdoors relaxing and entertaining. And if you’re like me, by the time the first summer holiday rolls around, it’s time to take a look at the condition of my outdoor furniture. Of course, I’ve already made it pretty with new pillows or cushions, and cleaned off the last of the pollen. But when it comes to teak furniture, unless you love the weathered gray look, it’s going to need to tender loving care to bring it back to its original beauty.
I usually like to be original with what I share with you, but this article from Teakworks4u had such good cleaning instructions I couldn’t resist. Too bad I didn’t have it last summer for our own teak reconditioning.
Step 1: Spray the teak furniture surface liberally with Teak Cleaning Solution
For a surface as badly worn as this one, you will need to apply the teak cleaning solution quite liberally. Once the surface is coated, allow it to sit for at least an hour to penetrate the wood. If your teak isn’t as far gone as this, you can adjust the amount of cleaner you use and reduce the length of time you allow it to penetrate into the teak.
Step 2: Apply some elbow grease
Once you’ve allowed the teak cleaning the teak cleaning solution to do it’s work, you’ll need to do some scrubbing to loosen any dirt or surface “gunk” from the teak. Steel wool works the best.
Step 3: Rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water
You’ve released a lot of dirt from the wood so now it’s time to rinse it away. We used a typical garden hose with the nozzle set on a light spray. Never use a pressure washer on your teak; this will damage the wood grain.
Step 4: Spray on more teak cleaner and brush again
This might seem like overkill, but you’ll be surprised at how much gunk is still on the wood surface. Using a nylon bristle brush will also allow you to get in between the battens to remove any debris that may have gotten wedged in. Rinse the surface again and allow the piece to dry thoroughly.
Step 5: Apply a coat of Teak Oil
Can you believe this is the same bench? We left half of the bench untreated so you can compare the before and after easily. Rub the Teak Oil into the surface with a lint-free cloth. Allow it to penetrate for about 30 minutes, then wipe away any excess. Your teak surface is now back to its fresh-from-the-workshop finish.
Teakworks4u recommends you perform routine maintenance on your mat or bench by giving it a light cleaning every month or so. You’ve seen how easy it is to clean and restore a weather beaten piece using the Deluxe Teak Cleaning Kit. Imagine how easy it will be to take care of your teak bench or mat when you practice regular maintenance. By the way, you can also use the Deluxe Cleaning Kit on any teak, not just our products.
by Randi Destefano
It’s fall! And with it comes falling leaves, pumpkins, pine cones…and decorating. I’m constantly amazed at the abundance of creative fall porch decorating ideas out there. And a quick look at magazine racks, Pinterest, and Houzz should give you enough ideas and inspiration to get you started. Let’s take a peek at a few of my favorites and why I love them…
This porch draws you in and wraps you in comfort, and I love everything about it. Notice the re-purposed shutters, wooden boxes, and chalk board. It’s a great reminder that you don’t need to buy everything new to have a porch that welcomes and wows your guests.
Simplicity is key to this entry. Colorful mums nesting in vintage pails are a perfect touch to greet visitors.
Orange pumpkins on each side of the steps leads you to the front door…and more beautiful colors. Don’t you just love the stacked white pumpkins with the house number on them? What are your fall porch decorating ideas?
by Randi Destefano
Have you ever wandered through a flea market with no particular goal (or mission) in mind? You know, the kind of day where you really take your time and stop by every table.
Well, last week I had what I like to call, the PERFECT treasure shopping day! The sun was shining, I got there early before the crowds, and I had no agenda other than enjoying myself. During my 2 hours break from work, while I “let the day come to me”, I managed to find some new Arts and Crafts style pottery, bump into some neighbors, and have a wonderful morning outdoors.
But then I stumbled upon the most unique handmade twig planter covered in moss. The second I saw it, I knew exactly where I would use it. I had to have it! When the vendor told me they had all been sold to a shop owner in a nearby mountain town, I knew that I had discovered a hot new product. So I placed an order and waited for my next visit.
This morning, in between pouring down rain, I scooted back to the flea market to pick up the newest purchases for our porch and patio. A quick stop at the plant vendor, and I had everything I needed to have them ready in time for our 4th of July company. Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll discover something wonderful again!!!