We’ve all heard the rhyme repeatedly over the years. Weather reporters say it while sharing the bad news that yet another rain shower is headed our way and your Grandma or your Mom say it to help make you feel better about the fact that it is pouring “cats and dogs” outside. What am I talking about? The title of this blog of course! “April Showers Bring May Flowers” is a common enough refrain but enough already. We all need to collectively cry “Uncle” and make it stop. We have already had more rain this spring then cumulatively fell for the entire 2016 calendar year. Well, ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea. This rain is so uninspiring when all I want to do is write about outdoor spaces!
Despite the lack of weather related inspiration I am going to continue with the theme started last month; maximizing your outdoor space and the impact it can have in terms of the curb appeal of your home. Previously, we looked primarily at backyards, patios and balconies. This month, let’s consider the front of your home as an extension of your indoor living space and how to create both a welcoming environment for visitors and a comfy, cozy place for you to enjoy that well earned, weekend morning cup of tea.
In the most perfect scenario of all, you have a front porch. Covered. Perhaps even a pretty railing all around it. That’s great but what are you doing with it? If it’s just a concrete slab and the paint is peeling on the trim, it might be time for a refresh. A covered porch is an ideal place to decorate because it’s protected from the elements. In fact, it’s entirely possible, depending on the positioning, that you can sit outside even on those warmer days when a sun shower suddenly hits. When my kids were younger, we actually used to enjoy (safely) sitting outside and watching the passing thunderstorms from the protection of the porch. Don’t waste this space – turn it into something that really resonates!
My first suggestion is for the really adventurous and/or those with a bit of a budget. Have you ever considered curtains? Yes, I said curtains. Can you just picture a beautiful porch hung with a gauzy, light fabric or the homespun look of linen? Gorgeous tie backs, anchored to your existing porch columns mean you could let them down for privacy and to blow gently in the breeze or tie them back for a sophisticated charming look that still gives you plenty of opportunity to watch the world go by.
Covered porches are also an ideal location for a few strategically placed hanging flower baskets. This is one time you want to “go big!” Be sure to measure the length of hanging material you need appropriately, in such a way that ensures you have a gorgeous display of blooms but haven’t impeded your own sightlines. Splurge a bit on the hooks too. This is your front porch after all so buy something pretty so it’s not just the flowers on display.
Next, make sure that your front door sparkles and stands out. A fresh coat of paint might be in order and frankly, this applies whether you have a covered porch or not. Perhaps it’s even more important when you don’t have one because then the door is so visible from the street. It might not always be appropriate to “go for bold” and paint a door red or a beautiful jewel toned yellow but don’t be afraid of colour either. As well, while summertime is not a time we traditionally think of hanging a wreath think about this: if you already have a hook in place that’s used in fall or winter, consider a decorative hanging for summer. Even a lovely and beautifully hand-crafted chalk “Welcome” sign will add both pop and warmth to your welcome making guests feel special indeed.
As for furniture, you might not want a couch on the porch but two lovely Muskoka chairs with cushions sure make a porch look welcoming. They come in such a wide variety of colours these days they are a sure fire way to make a porch pop. For fun and a touch of whimsy use an old milk can painted in the same colour as the chairs as your little table to place that mug of tea on while you sit and relax. If the porch isn’t big enough to accommodate Muskoka, consider a little set normally reserved for dining but without the umbrella. Make sure the chairs are not those tiny, wrought iron “confections” that no one ever fits into comfortably. Instead go for function. Wicker is nice and a small glass topped table with a couple of candles or an outdoor objet d’art is lovely while still practical too. There are so many varieties of wicker now (including plastic that is wicker like) that worrying about the impact of weather isn’t really a factor.
Even if your porch isn’t covered and only has room for a couple of chairs, or you have stairs to contend with, there are still lots of things that can be done. Just be sure to take accurate measurements so that when shopping for seats you buy a size that fits your smaller space. Placing chairs on either side of the door gives you and your guests easy access in and out while still allowing you to take a seat. Pretty cushions that are waterproof are needed in this scenario and there is no reason you couldn’t put a few potted plants, staggered along the stairs, and near each edge so that there is still plenty of room to walk. Maybe a sunscreen roller shade over the door is in the budget and if so, that will provide much needed shade and serve as a real design feature for the front of your home. And that welcome mat? Make it a large, brightly coloured one with a message of “Welcome” or “Home” on it. Keep everything colour coordinated with your front door and you’ll have an amazing, warm and welcoming outdoor space that invites neighbours, friends and family to feel at home. Until next time……
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