11 Designer Approved Tips for Creating the Perfect At-Home Escape

June 24, 2024

Suze Dowling

11 Designer Approved Tips for Creating the Perfect At-Home Escape

As far as outdoor spaces go, I am, 100 percent, team front porch. While a back deck or side patio both offer their own sense of oasis and escape, the front porch provides a healthy dose of undeniable charm. After all, much has been written about the community-building, neighbor-connecting power of a front porch. It’s where I gather with friends and family and love spending a few leisurely hours on the weekends. Dedicating a little time, effort, and yes, elbow grease, yields aesthetic and functional results that pay back tenfold.

Maximizing curb appeal comes with its own set of focuses and concerns. Earning the title of best front porch on the block is a steep task to take on, and the pursuit elicits a host of questions that’ll help you find the look you’re after. Are window boxes worth the effort? Do I really need to invest in solar fixtures for added accent lighting? Is symmetry or asymmetry the ultimate goal?

To shed a little light on the endless possibilities inherent in the humble front porch, I tapped Decorist designer, Kara Solito and Cameron Johnson, CEO & founder of the Texas-based furniture rental service and interior design firm, Nickson Living. Together, they shared their top front porch ideas for finding your style and perfecting this important area of your home. Let’s get to the tips that’ll help your home make a good first impression.

Update With Paint
A pretty pop of color may be just the makeover your home is looking for. The door is the portal to the rooms within and your entryway should always take front-and-center focus. As such, giving it a little upgrade with a swipe of paint can go a long way. “Choose a paint color that is complementary to your exterior siding to give your front door a refresh,” Solito advises.

Faced with a fan of swatches and overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options? Solito breaks it down, suggesting bright colors like a bold turquoise, deep blue, or sunny yellow for a cheery effect. Or, if subdued hues are more your speed, creamy, softer neutrals like an off-white or gray will achieve the impact you’re after. And while you’re at it, Solito offers up this key reminder: “Don’t forget to change out your hardware as well!” Speaking of…

Have Fun With Hardware
Small, but mighty (and often overlooked), the hardware embellishing and surrounding your front door can have a major impact on your porch’s overall look and feel. The specific pieces in question? If your front porch is lacking in style, it can be a good idea to reconsider and replace your house numbers, the entrance handle set, hinges, and of course, your mailbox. Whether it’s brass, nickel-brushed, or oiled-bronze you’re after, swapping out these finishes can do a world of aesthetic good.

Let Your Décor Work For You
Tired of switching out your door mats each season? Same. While I love the look of a classic jute mat or something with a little more red-and-green personality come the holidays, I’m not here for the effort (or additional decorating budget) it takes to think through this quarterly refresh.

Instead, I rely on my tried-and-true Tile Mat as a low-lift way to reflect my sometimes-capricious need to change things up. If you can relate, set your imagination free and design any and all creations your heart desires. Maybe that means a minimalist black-and-white theme, while other days you might opt for something with a little more whimsy and color. Whatever you choose, prepare to take a stylish step inside.



Put Nature on Display
The question of whether or not to add a window box I teased above? Solito responds with an enthusiastic yes! If your front yard boasts a garden of earthly delights, permission to carry that organic feel up your walkway or onto your front porch. “When most people think of curb appeal, they think of plantings,” notes Solito. She encourages adding a few planters in varying sizes and shapes to either side of your front door for a fresh pop of greenery. (Tip: If you haven’t found your favorite planters yet, these are my ride-or-die faves.)

A final game-changing note? “Switch out the plants themselves seasonally for a quick refresh,” says the designer.

…Or Go Faux

If you have more of a black than green thumb, first off, don’t worry—you’re definitely not alone. Johnson’s quick-fix solution? Faux plants are the way to go. “Faux plants in stainless steel planters allow you to add green elements to your space year round,” says Johnson. What’s more, if you have seasonal foliage creeping around your porch or taking root in your yard, faux plants can be a great way to complement your home’s already-existing greenery.

The good news, too, is that foliage has come a long way since the 90s when every dreary office space was flecked with a faux ficus. The Sill is one of my favorite sources for finding faux plants online. And honestly, they’re so close to the real thing that I’m not even convinced they’re fake.

Vary Your Plant Pots
A simple win on this list of front porch ideas? Add height and interest by opting for potted plants in different shapes. You can even try stacking complementing pots on top of one another to supplement your style. If it isn’t yet evident by the tips shared above, “potted plants are tried and true,” says Johnson. “By varying the size and colors of the pots and your plants, you can create a hospitality-like feel.”

Add Height the Easy Way
On the topic of adding height, I’m always one to fall hard and fast for a statement-making exterior covered in ivy. There’s something alluringly collegiate about a wall of climbing evergreen. Of course, this can be a challenging look to achieve in a residential setting. Cameron’s take? “One can mirror this effect by using wall-mounted plants to activate a wall or fence.”

This can be an easy and elegant way to add greenery to a smaller space. After all, there are only so many pots a porch can hold. So if you’re short on surfaces but your love of plants knows no bounds, a vertical garden is the way to go. A quick internet search will yield plenty of options for purchase, but I’m always one to encourage getting your DIY-hands dirty and have a little fun crafting your own.

Let There Be (Updated) Light
As is true for the color of your front door, being intentional about how you design your front porch’s lighting can add instant appeal. Solito suggests removing “any builder-grade lighting from your front porch” and swapping these more utilitarian pieces with options that add a touch of sophistication, such as a sconce or pendant. “This not only enhances the look and feel of your exterior,” she notes, “but also adds value to your home.”

Weave in Some Zen
One of the first steps when weighing your options for front porch ideas? Take some time to sit down and intentionally reflect upon how you want to feel in your space. Do you want to dedicate your front porch to socializing and connection, or would you rather it be a calming place where you can go to be alone with your thoughts? If it’s zen you’re after, Johnson suggests opting for oval stone or faux stone outdoor planters. Sit this Revival Ceramics planter atop an outdoor table or stagger a few on the Entryway Rack.  Spa-like vibes await.

Kick Your Feet Up in Style
If you’re working with a larger front porch, adding seating helps solidify the space’s purpose as an additional room and can infuse it with a welcoming sense of comfort. Solito loves the look of outdoor rocking chairs as well as the more small space-friendly options of a loveseat or a hanging chair or bench. This shows “that your front porch is not only stylish, but also functional,” Solito notes.

She suggests rounding out the look by adding “a small table for drinks, an outdoor area rug, and outdoor throw pillows or ottomans to tie the design together and make a cozy hangout space.”

Take the Container Garden Route
To help your front porch function as a verdant, flourishing garden without the hassle of digging out or building up garden beds, designing a container garden can be a low-effort, high-reward solve. Johnson’s fully on board with this small space solution, offering up the inspiration of opting for galvanized steel outdoor planters. According to him, these “can allow those with a green thumb to create a garden within a space, given their size and depth.”

Adding more good news to the mix, you can also easily replant your container garden to change things up all throughout the year. Curate your mums for a harvest feel and replace them with pansies in the spring to welcome in the warmer weather. Month after month, season after season—the design is totally up to you.

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