Tight on Space? Designers Share Their Go-To Ideas for Styling a Small Porch

June 24, 2024

Suze Dowling

Tight on Space? Designers Share Their Go-To Ideas for Styling a Small Porch

In a world where bigger often implies better, it can be easy to think that larger-than-life decks and mind-blowingly expansive patios have all the fun. After all, the more space you have, the more room there is to gather, relax, and play, right? Well… maybe not. With a few tips, tricks, and small front porch ideas in your decorating arsenal, any space can be beautiful, functional, and curated to fit your design-lovin’ dreams.

It’s true—a little less square footage is no match for game-changing, designer-approved small front porch ideas. I tapped Decorist designer Ashley Mecham and Cameron Johnson, CEO & founder of the Texas-based furniture rental service and interior design firm, Nickson Living, to learn how to maximize our homes’ livable square footage just in time to welcome in the warm weather. Mecham recognizes the many challenges that come with a lack of space: “Smaller porch spaces can pose a challenge as to how to bring in character and charm,” says the designer.

Rest assured, no matter the size and square footage of your front porch, you have plenty of options for bringing your own style and personal touch to this part of your home. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity. Sound fun? I thought so—let’s dive in.

Refresh Your Lighting
Both Johnson and Mecham agree—lighting is the #1 area of your porch where a simple swap can make all the difference. “Outdoor lighting is not only functional,” says Johnson, “but can help the space be used around the clock.” Mecham loves this tip because leaning on lighting lets you stay true to your style while creating “a quick and easy refresh.”

What’s more, thanks to the sheer abundance of outdoor lighting options available today, Johnson notes that “it can add a unique and beautiful design flair.”

Layer Up Your Welcome Mat
Fans of the Tile Mat, rejoice (boldly and unabashedly, I’ll join in on the celebration): If you’re short on space, one of Mecham’s favorite ways to imbue a touch of whimsy into your front porch set-up is by layering your welcome mat with a larger patterned outdoor rug beneath. The sweet spot, she says, is between 2x3 or 4x6 rugs. “This is a great way to bring in some pattern and color, plus, it’ll show off your personality.” So if you’re looking to take your Letterfolk fave to the next level, this is a surefire way to make it happen.



Expand Your Definition of Coffee Table
While small-space coffee tables have a special place in my heart, Johnson encourages taking it a step further and getting creative with your favorite picnic standby. “Using a cooler as an outdoor coffee table or bench allows for functional storage, seating, and hosting,” he says. Mind? Blown.

If you’re not in love with the decidedly Americana aesthetic that coolers often convey (red, white, and blue seem to be the most common choices, after all), Johnson suggests painting or adding wallpaper “to transform it into a custom piece.”

Add a Touch of Timeless Style
Whether your aesthetic leans more modern or you’re a traditionalist at heart, timeless style can seamlessly bridge the two opposite ends of the design spectrum. While that’s good news for your budget (as many know, shelling out for larger, more expensive pieces season after season can quickly add up), it can also help you create a greater impact with the elements you choose to include.

“Adding a wreath to your front door is considered a timeless style that can stay year-round,” explains Mecham. Her go-to options? Boxwood, olive, or a eucalyptus wreath. Of course, if you do want to keep things seasonal, incorporating florals into a wreath adds a fresh nod to spring, while pampas grass evokes the cool-weather comfort of fall.

Pile on the Plants
Plants are always the answer, aren’t they? When it comes to small front porch ideas, that’s a hard yes. If it’s a simple and streamlined look you’re after, Mecham suggests designing with symmetry in mind and flanking your front door with a planter on either side. Or, if there’s only enough space for pots on one side, “consider a couple of planters in varying sizes for interest,” the designer recommends.

In need of a little plant inspo? I love a Philodendron for warmer climates. Or, if you want greenery that leans on the hardier side of things, the Tradescantia nanouk makes for an aesthetically pleasing option.

Incorporate Small Space Seating
Sure, this might not work for micro porches or if your only outdoor area is a few square feet of city-dwelling metal, but if you do have a little space to spare, Johnson advises making the most of it. “Adding a picnic table bench or benches without the actual picnic table is a way to incorporate a small but functional option for seating and even dining,” he notes.

Benches are a great small-space solution because they’re often light enough to move around and can easily accommodate and fulfill multiple purposes. Whether you’re hosting a small group and need both a spot to sit and surface to rest your drinks on, or you’re spending time on your front porch solo and want somewhere to kick up your feet—know this: The limit of your small front porch doesn’t exist.

My favorite small porch seating configuration? Johnson suggests adding “outdoor pillows to the bench against a wall to create an outdoor couch effect.” Time to let your imagination run wild.

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