Inspired. Exteriors. – The Home Stylist
by Nan Bridgeman
In the South, we love our porches, our verandahs and our piazzas! These shaded outdoor rooms were necessary before air conditioning, and offered a cool place to sit and visit with friends, rock a fretting baby or sit and snap beans while enjoying a cool breeze. I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother’s home in South Carolina with its large wrap-a-round porch outfitted with white rockers and adorned with large ferns. It was a great place to congregate, with adults sitting and talking, children playing chase on the lawn, and later taking turns cranking the churn of peach custard ice cream.
Here are some simple spring rituals that were passed down in our family to have our porches ready for warm weather, relaxing and entertaining.
1. Spring Cleaning!
Mid April is a good time to wash away the remaining pollen that greets us every spring. I use a large bucket of warm water with mild detergent and a very small splash of bleach to wash floors and metal furniture, and then rinse well. It is also a great time to sand away any hints of rust and then touch up paint. White has always been a classic porch color but “Charleston green” and “cottage black” are also excellent, versatile colors.
Also, if it is time to repaint your porch, you might consider painting your porch ceiling “sky blue”. This is an old trick to keep wasps and bees from nesting on your ceiling.
2. Assess your furniture needs.
Porch furniture should be comfortable and able to withstand moisture. Wicker and metal have long been ideal choices for outdoor use but there are new plastic pieces that resemble wicker that also work well. Rockers are usually the first seats to be taken so consider having one or two on your porch. Chinese garden stools have become very popular again offering extra pull up seating or a space to rest a drink. If space allows, a dining table is a great addition for dining alfresco or a spot to cut watermelon and serve children without worries of drips on the carpet.
3. Add some fresh accents.
- Accents are a great way to freshen up and give personality to your outdoor room.
- You might think about adding one or two of these accents to your porch.
- A rug feels good to bare feet and anchors the sitting area. While we love natural fibers, the newer rugs that appear natural woven can be washed with a spray hose are very practical. You can also have an artist paint a “rug” on your wooden porch floor to give interest.
- Toss out some throw pillows in cool colors made of indoor/outdoor fabric that resists fading and mildew. Throw pillows are an inexpensive way to freshen up any room.
- Lighting is a nice addition. Hurricane globes offer soft candle light, lanterns and iron chandeliers fitted with candles are popular. Also, there are some great new lamps on the market made for outdoor use.
4. Make your space a garden room.
Ferns and palms add a sense of coolness to the porch and also visually soften the hard surfaces of the porch. Begonia are a great shade plant that add touches of color. Wind chimes, gurgling water from a nearby fountain are delights to the ear as are the hum of crickets in the evening. A gardenia or jasmine vine planted near the porch offers great seasonal smells that make us enjoy our garden room.
Now is the perfect time to extend your living area to the outdoors. Enjoy planning your space and take time to enjoy nature.
Nan Bridgeman is the owner of Blythe Gallery in downtown Belmont. Blythe Gallery specializes in home furnishings, interior design, and gifts. p: 704.825.8809