Primping the Porch

The relaxed conversation space

“Hello. Come sit, have some sweet tea, and let’s talk about life.”

That’s how we think of America’s iconic porch, and it’s enjoying a renaissance. Half of all new homes are now built with porches — and along the Emerald Coast, one porch often isn’t enough.

“With weather like ours, it’s great to have two porches,” says interior designer Karen Waterfield of Sugar Beach Interiors in Destin. “One in front for neighborly chats, and one in back to hang out with friends and family. At our home, the back porch has become the soul of the house, and I urge anybody with a porch, sprawling or modest, to take it beyond those white plastic chairs.”


1. Take advantage of the new outdoor textiles. Use area rugs and runners to define eating and conversation areas. Use pillows to add splashes of color and pattern, and hang a side curtain to screen out too much sun or nosy neighbors.

2. Add greenery: hanging ferns, herbs and shade-loving flowers in planters, and branches in big bottles, vases or galvanized buckets.

3. No glaring floodlights, please. Bring in pretty lighting, including candles and hurricane lamps. Twine little white string lights through nearby vines or tree branches.

4. Try al fresco napping. A day bed piled with quilts and pillows can do double duty as seating and bed.

5.  Weather-resilient furniture designed for inside but built for outside now offers great outdoor looks and comfort. Choose from all-weather wicker chairs and sectionals, and dining tables with recycled wood or metal bases and concrete tops.

6. Think fire for ambiance. You can go luxe with a masonry fireplace for $5,000 and up, or you can go simple with a $300 firepit.

7. Street noise? A small fountain will screen it out.

Categories: Homes