decorating a screened-in porch

stargirlJune 9, 2012

Our little home is in the woods, with a river in the backyard. There is a screened-in porch on front, and the exterior colors of our home are tan trimmed in brown, and the porch is stained brown. I have always had a problem deciding how to decorate the porch. Since we live in a rustic setting, I'm not sure if I should have a cottage decor, a nautical decor, a tropical decor, etc. I'm also not sure about furniture....rockers, rattan, wicker (white or brown?). If this were YOUR screened-in porch, how would you decorate it? The size of the porch is approximately 8 x 16, and the only thing that is on it right now is a small glass-topped bistro set with brown wicker chairs, a large baker's rack, and a brown rattan loveseat. I'm not sure about pillow colors for the loveseat and also how to accessorize this space. In fact, I'm not even sure if I need to keep the items I've mentioned. Perhaps I should start from scratch. I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions. Or, maybe you have pictures you can share. Thanks a bunch!

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Porch Swing would be my first purchase. High quality that is curved on the seat to be comfortable on the back of your legs. Or I have seen some made with a twin mattress that you can sleep on...heaven

Then either your bistro size table and chairs, or a setting of 4 chairs with a very small end table in the middle.

I would want something long enough for a man to stretch out and nap. Chair with really good ottoman, or get a longer loveseat, or futon, or maybe a chaise in place of 1 or 2 of the chairs.

I would make sure to have power outlets to plug in music, or wire in speakers to run off the home stereo.

And a ceiling fan or box fan to add that pleasant air movement.

Then the bakers rack to set your drinks, and snacks.

If you could manage it, I would also add a cable hookup and outlet for a TV. Then either get a small TV that you move there when you are on the porch, or mount one there all the time. One place we have stayed for vacations has put some clear plexiglass over the porch screen to protect the TV mounted high in the corner.

Some sort of lighting.

A few plants in pots.

Now all you need is a baseball game on TV or the radio, a cold drink, and your book.

As for the colors/cushions/decor. I think that outdoor items are only good for 1 or 2 seasons. Get a color you like that is available right now for your cushions, etc. Try to avoid patterns-get something solid. Then you can mix and match as things wear out.

Avoid white furniture, because it can look dirty so easily. There are a lot of bronzy gray colors that are out now. Or the brown that you have already. Since your exterior is tan/brown I would just get things that go well with that, or wrought iron in black.

What color and material is your baker's rack?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:46AM
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Thanks so much, Julie. I love all your suggestions. My baker's rack is wrought iron, in a dark finish. It is quite large (tall) and it almost touches the ceiling. As far as accessorizing, would you go for a theme, like nautical, tropical, etc....or just have nature-type items, like a basket of pine cones, a container with shells, stuff like that? I'm always torn between what "look" I want.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Check out these photos of a home done by designer Toby West -- scroll through to reach the porch photo ... think of items like dark wicker, pine cones, ferns, dark baskets ...

Here is a link that might be useful: porch inspiration photos

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 11:54AM
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And remember that everything you put out there should be a snap to clean, without having to schlep everything in and out when it rains.

I wouldn't put a television out there, even temporarily.
Why be outside, if you are absorbed in a tv?
And there is nothing much more annoying than sitting on your own porch or in your yard on a nice evening, and hearing the sound of somebody else's television show outside. We have few enough respites from the continual noise and distraction of manufactured sound!

Am I lecturing again?
Apparently this is a peeve of mine,,,

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:32PM
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I think she said she lives in the woods. While I wouldn't want a TV, it is nice to have music occasionally, so speakers would be on my list.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:22PM
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How you want to use this room is key to how you will decorate it. Keep in mind that 8' wide is not enough space to use really large scaled furniture. However if you plan to nap/lounge out there (which would be something I'd do) you could put a sofa or daybed at one end and use a large enough piece to be comfortable. I might also be tempted to use it occasionally as a sleeping porch, if it is secure, so a daybed or hanging bed might be nice. I'd also use curtains made of outdoor fabric.

"Lots of ideas here"

"Sleeping porch ideas"

"A few ideas here"

I wouldn't do a theme except for casual, comfortable, and slightly rustic. Wicker and wrought iron are perfect in spaces such as this. Bring in colors that coordinate with your house colors altho you can go either brighter or restful, depending on how you want the room to be.

I definitely would not have TV or even music here. I'd want to hear the sound of the birds and water.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:26PM
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What a lovely home, teacats! Thanks for the great inspiration. And, I agree that I should think "dark." And, bronwynsmom, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want a TV on the screened-in porch. Privacy isn't an issue here as we're surrounded by woods, but I still wouldn't want a TV in a space where I want to relax. So, I guess everyone feels that I should create a rustic feel on the porch, opposed to something "typical" like nautical or tropical. I have lots of rustic stuff....antlers, baskets of pinecones, shells, duck decoys, lanterns, old fishing lures, so I probably have all that I need to create a woodland decor. But because I have so many options running through my mind, it is difficult to zone in on just one look. I appreciate everyone's help.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Don't want to be controversial, but many sports lovers are OK with the game being on, and the sound being off.

Or watch the game on the TV while listening to the radio broadcast. (better commentary).

If it's not your thing-- no problem. But I would say why be stuck inside watching the game when you can enjoy it on the porch, and also enjoy the sounds and smells of nature.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Themes in decorating should make you happy. I also believe they should make some sense. Beach themes for beach cottages or families with beach cottages, tropical themes for around the pool....perhaps that's too narrow minded. Y'all won't look at my Italian themed kitchen in Texas will you?

My porches are done in a garden cottage feel...wicker, pots, plants, and a porch swing on the back porch. Nothing much in life is so bad that some time on the porch swing at least calms the soul.

I have a radio on the porch for listening to the baseball games in summer...I've enjoyed watching games on neighbor's TVs on their porches. It is fun, especially if you are mindful that the neighbors aren't really interested in your noise.

A table and chairs for having coffee or a meal outside is perfect. A ceiling fan can be lovely as can a heater of some sort to extend the season well into fall.

Lastly...if not on the porch, then somewhere close by, a bubblying water feature to add the sounds of water adds a nice touch.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:25PM
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I appreciate all the great advice I've received and especially the links to the inspirational sites. It's funny that the TV issue should be mentioned because our neighbors to the other side of us have a gigantic projection screen on their porch, which they use when major ballgames are on. I can sit at our dining table which is in front of sliding glass doors, and watch an entire game. It's like being at a drive-in! Seriously, I do know from all the advice that I need to have dark furniture, whether it be wicker or iron, and that I need to decorate in a nature theme. My mind keeps telling me light and tropical, but we live on a river, not a beach, so I think the porch should reflect that. In other words, I think we should decorate HOW we live, and not how we wished we lived. I know some will disagree with me about this, but I wouldn't want to live in Alaska and decorate in a tropical theme. Now I just need to find the perfect color for pillows, etc., and the right accessories, and I will be set. I'd still love to hear any more ideas that you might have.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 5:15PM
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''I know some will disagree with me about this, but I wouldn't want to live in Alaska and decorate in a tropical theme.''

I'm with you on this. Some probably think this is extreme and will say get what you love, but what I love is a home that is cozy in it's own surroundings. It's kind of like the saying, ''bloom where you're planted'' (which isn't to say you can't also incorporate bits and pieces from where you've been).

Do you have pictures of the nearby river, or found objects (like stones, seed cones or driftwood) that you could work in? This could help create a color scheme and relate your porch to the land it leads to.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:17AM
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I really like the look of twig furniture in a rustic setting, but it's uncomfortable. If you're looking for a theme how about adirondack ? The chairs are comfortable if made correctly, and can be used with or without cushions and the style is giggly appropriate for a river setting. Strongly second the hanging swing. Would steer you away from the obvious fishing poles, creels, hand tied flies, etc., unless you actually use them.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 1:46AM
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Ok, the word giggly inserted itself somehow in my post! This iPad may not have artificial intelligence but it does manage to throw in a joke very now and then :-)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Thanks for the reminder of all weather fabric curtains. I have to trim back the rhodies on the side of my screened porch and it will reduce the privacy from the street. Curtains will be great until the bushes can grow back. I remember that someone suggested shower curtains.

I never put potted plants on my porch because they are constantly dropping something or spilling over when watered. Too much nuisance. I have plenty of plants on the other side of the screens to see.

The ceiling of my porch is slanted and there is a place to put items around the edge. I have a collection of things I love such as a seated mermaid and a metal bat hanging there. I found two old tiles in the woods behind my house and propped them up, too. I googled and found they are made by a recognized manufacturer, although I doubt they have any value beyond a "found treasure". An architect used to live back there and left a few things around.

I love my porch.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think you should decorate in the way that makes you happy.

If I lived in Alaska but found joy in a tropical themed room, wonderful! Who cares what the rules are.

Personally, not fiddling and cleaning constantly and not replacing faded cushions makes me happy. I don't mind mildly uncomfortable furniture if its looks outweigh the comfort value and will put up with inconvenience to have things look the way I want them.
I love twig furniture and with plenty of cushions they are very comfortable. They don't rock and twirl like a manufactured chair, but the joy of seeing them everyday outweighs the maintenance, comfort loss (minimal to me) and more frequent replacement. They don't last forever.

For instance, I need to have my vacuum cleaner sitting in the middle of the floor pretty much constantly as I vacuum something daily. But I put it away in the closet to appease my aesthetics.

I need to get in bed each night, but I make the bed everyday for the joy of looking at it if even for the momentary few seconds before I turn it down again in the evening.

I like having a botanical garden on my screened in porch. Lots of color, some money and quite a bit of maintenance. I don't care.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 1:39PM
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