This bare-bones porch went from lackluster to lovely on a budget. Luckily, a pretty porch only takes a little vision, some massed containers of plants, and a few cans of spray paint.
The bungalow already had a fair amount of personality thanks to sage siding and flamingo pink shutters, which provided a good starting point for a harmonious color scheme. But three lonely chairs spread across its expanse did not invite either conversation or lingering.
We used the natural symmetry of the porch to divide it into zones with a living room and dining area. To enhance the outdoor room ambiance, we added canvas draperies on each side. The curtains can be tied back or pulled closed to block strong sun and add privacy.
Playing off the house colors we selected a pastel color palette that looks playful and summery. The dining room side is just big enough for a two-person table. A cheery yellow-and-white runner dresses it up while exposing the table’s rugged beauty. Pink paint transforms a pair of chairs formerly painted black. A cupboard, stacked atop a bench, completes the scene.
Take time to enjoy porch life by hosting an easy coffee klatch with friends. The ceramic pieces can be stored outside in the cupboard after the event.
The light fixture over the table involves wire, but not wiring. Wrap baling wire around mason jars (we used clear, but antique turquoise jars would be nice, too) to make a handle. Fill the jars with coarse glitter mixed with sand, and insert a votive candle. Attach the wire to an overturned vintage plant basket. Hang the center of the basket from an eyehook in the ceiling.
Old overturned buckets, baskets, even old chicken feeders offer potential as light fixtures. Fit them with secured votives or pendant light kits.
Throughout the porch, plants massed in various containers lend their soothing green and harmonizing colors, making it feel as if nature has marched up the steps and made itself at home in this now-welcoming space. To inject more pattern and color among the foliage, we wrapped the pots in all-weather fabric.
Stacking pieces, such as this cabinet on a bench, brings height and privacy screening to this end of the porch. Decorate the top and shelves of the cabinet with items that can withstand outdoor elements or fill with your outdoor serving pieces.
If an item is cute but damaged, don’t fret. The small ceramic pot holding the cascading foliage of ‘Goldilocks’ lysimachia is a teacup with a broken handle. Just rotate the damaged side to the back and stack it atop old books. Toss a few pebbles in the bottom of the cup before planting to provide drainage.
Vary the sizes, shapes, colors, and textures of items on display in the cabinet to keep things interesting. This squat ceramic floral jug contrasts nicely against the angular severity of an old metal street sign.
A vintage coffee can makes a uniquely charming pot for some clear-pink Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunias.
Let underused corners be your decorating allies. They’re natural spaces to house tall plants or small benches stacked with accents such as a paint-by-number artwork and annuals potted in repurposed containers.
A cottage-style floral rug anchors a charming seating arrangement on the living room side of the porch. Floral and checked cushions that blend with the rug adorn a natural wicker settee. The space now invites lounging and beckons neighbors over to stop for a chat.
A spray of sky blue paint quickly spruces up a damaged wood-stain coffee table. A touch of whimsy is always appropriate for a porch. Place a favorite piece, such as this charming winged donkey, where it can be seen and enjoyed. Fresh flowers in a vintage Mason jar add instant color.
Accessorize your porch to infuse the space with personality as you would any interior room of your home. Here, an old wooden toy wheelbarrow and vintage metal lantern bring rustic texture to a grouping of foliage plants.
This formerly natural wicker chair shines with a fresh coat of soft yellow paint. Hide any imperfections and soften rough spots with a coordinating throw or quilt.
Planters in varying heights create interest in the corner. In the tall container, Daisy May daisy, Kingswood Torch coleus, Margarita sweet potato vine, Moxie Gold strawflower and Superbells Pink calibrachoa play a starring role. In the lower pot, Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunia is set off with the chartreuse-gold foliage of Goldilocks lysimachia.
Decorate a flea-market porch on a budget with these thrifty tips:
Shop your home. Look in your attic or basement for tables, chairs and other castoffs to refresh with a coat of spray paint.
Embrace imperfection— it’s a porch, not a showroom. Cracked bowls, chipped mugs, and dented furniture are ideal candidates for the relaxed attitude of a porch.
Plants make a porch feel like an extension of the garden. Shop for inexpensive flower and foliage options at home improvement and grocery garden centers. For large-impact plants, look for sales on tropicals like palms, crotons, and elephant ears.
Invest in inexpensive fabrics for draperies and fresh pillow and cushion covers. Like paint, they rejuvenate tired pieces for a small investment.
Use short, squat benches or overturned wire baskets as coffee tables or plant holders or stack graduated sizes atop each other for a bookcase effect.
Bear in mind the effects of wind, rain, and sun. Ceramics and wire items face the elements well. Unless it’s raining every day, weathered wood dries out quickly. Use all-weather rugs and assume you’ll periodically need to dry out a few soggy pieces.
If you use books, framed prints, or other paper items, place them in spots that won’t get wet or plan to remove them during inclement weather. Keep family heirlooms indoors; don’t use anything on the porch you can’t afford to lose.
Annual plants courtesy of Proven Winners
Produced by Debra Wittrup and Ginny Randall
Photography by Sarah Norton
© Caruth Studio