Or is it an untidy mess of autumn leaves that settled into the corners two season ago, snow shovels and items that never quite made it into the house/garage/storage shed? Is the furniture a mish-mash of canvas camping chairs, big-box plastic stackers and a side table you filched from the curbside when the neighbors moved?
Be honest with yourself. Turn on that critical eye. Ask yourself, “Who would want to hang out on this porch?
Is this the first impression you want to make?
If you’re standing there on the sidewalk, shaking your head in dismay and wondering how your porch turned into that scary place you would never have ventured onto as a young Hallowe’enie, take heart. There are quick and easy fixes. Some are spendy, but others will certainly not break the bank. In a weekend, you can spiff up your front porch and turn it into a space you can be proud of.
Start at the bottom.
First, remove everything and give the porch a good old fashioned scrubbing. Sweep out the leaves, wrangle the cob webs and if you have windows or screens, wash ‘em. Then tackle the floor.
If a simple mopping will suffice, you’re almost halfway there. But if paint is peeling off the flooring (whether it’s wood or cement), it may be time to repaint. If you decide to paint, consider a new color for the front door. Instant face lift.
Lay down an indoor/outdoor rug. Olivia Vila has been helping customers at Downtown Ace Hardware choose furniture and accessories for porches and patios for several seasons. “A rug defines the space and adds instant color,” she says. Rugs bring a touch of refinement to the environment and for renters, they can be rolled up and taken to the next home.
Work your way up.
Meg DeWeese, owner of EsScentuals, located on College Avenue in Fort Collins agrees. Bis, the lower level of her store, features one-of-a-kind vintage furnishings which can be used to create a unique and inviting environment. “Treat the porch the way you would treat the interior of your home,” DeWeese recommends. “It’s a transitional space and should reflect your esthetic sensibilities.” She likes to see the front porch utilized as another living space, with chairs and love seats grouped to encourage stimulating conversation.
Just like in your living room, add elements that up the comfy and cozy factor. Coordinating throw pillows help bring the indoors outside. “Put a basket of blankets next to your chair,” suggests Ace Hardware’s Vila. When temperatures dip, it’s easy to grab one and wrap yourself up to keep warm. Choose containers whose colors accentuate your furnishings and populate with plants that will thrive on your porch. It’s important to understand the light conditions on your porch. Don’t expect the same plants that do well in the planters in front of the house to be as happy in a more covered and shaded environment. And don’t be afraid to switch out annuals to create whole new look. Annuals are an inexpensive way to shake things up and experiment with color. You don’t have to live with the same petunias all season long.
Plastic isn’t necessarily verboten when it comes to outdoor furniture. Yes, the cheap stacking chairs you purchased during your junior year at college may still have some life in them, but they really should be relegated to the storage shed, to be used only as additional seating for a backyard barbecue.
Ace Hardware carries high-end lines of what the industry call ‘casual furniture,’ which includes collections made from marine-grade polymer. This is investment furniture, despite being labeled as casual. One brand, Telescope, allows customers complete customization, from frames to fabric, with no additional cost to the consumer.
Just because the walls of your porch are outside the house, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hang art. Find pieces that will weather the elements and create vignettes. “Hang antlers that can double as coat hooks,” suggests DeWeese. “Or look for paned mirrors that mimic windows and place them strategically so they bounce light onto the porch.”
Consider curtains. They soften the straight lines of a porch and can be drawn for more privacy. You can layer sheer panels with heavier weight drapes to create an inside-out feel on the porch. “Look for ways to layer different fabrics,” DeWeese says. “Layers add richness and depth. They create interest.”
Top it off.
Flip the switch on your outdoor lights. What happens? In many instances, one overly bright bulb ignites a circumscribed area, leaving the rest of the porch dark and unfriendly. Vila recommends placing candles and lamps so they light up the corners. “Keep the light soft,” she says. “Porches are more suited for low light.” She likes string lights that create a festive atmosphere without overpowering the space.
“Hang a chandelier,” says EsScentual’s DeWeese. “It’s unexpected and beautiful. Chandeliers can be electrified or lit with candles. The puddled light defines specific spaces like a seating or dining area.” Make sure any chandelier is period-appropriate and matches the style of your home; no Sputnik pendants on Craftsman-style bungalows. Think about ceiling fans to create a welcome breeze on stagnant nights when the air is still and heavy. And don’t forget about dimmer switches. They provide flexibility, allowing you to dim the lights for quiet conversation or brighten the porch when a stranger rings the bell.
Fold up the canvas chairs and put them with the rest of the camping gear in the garage. You’ve grown up, and it’s time your front porch did, too.
Michelle Venus is a writer and KRFC’s Development Director.
She developed the radio series Support Local Culture in partnership with Noosa Yoghurt in which a different Northern Colorado artist is featured every week. Michelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Front Porch Redux
By Michelle Venus
Dos and don’ts for making a
strong first impression.
You have an assignment. Walk out your front door and stand on the sidewalk. Take a good look at your front porch. Is it inviting? Does it welcome friends and family to visit and enjoy conversation and company?
A Personal Note From
Dr. Ralph R. Reynolds, DMD, MD
Be Thankful for Animal Friendship
By Dr. Robin Downing
Let me start by introducing myself, I am Dr. Ralph R. Reynolds, DMD, MD. I am a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMS) with offices in Loveland and Greeley. You can follow this link to my website for more detailed information about my practice Reynolds Oral & Facial Surgery. I have removed wisdom teeth from thousands of patience as well as two of my five children.
But, why do we have wisdom teeth?
It is traditional at this time of the year to take an inventory of what is right in our lives—what we have to be thankful for. For those of us who share our lives with pets, these beings with lives more fragile than our own, we have special blessings in which we partake each and every day. Our relationships with pets have changed over the past few decades. Pets have made a grand migration from the backyard to the bedroom.