Banish all clutter
Rule number one for a welcoming and relaxing porch: banish all clutter! No excuses. If it’s where the kids kick off their shoes before coming in, train them to put shoes away in a trunk or a toy box.
Clear the steps
If you have steps up to your porch, a few pot plants are fine, but don’t fill them up too much, or they will feel like a barrier rather than an open welcome.
Make your own
If you don’t have a porch but do have a deck, it’s easy to frame and cover a part for an instant porch. Paint the porch floor a different color for instant demarcation lines and an outdoor room feel.
Hanging flower pots
Plants are essential, of course. This is the transition between indoors and out after all, and plants pave the way and set the mood. Don’t put them all at ground level; hanging baskets add depth and interest.
Rocking chairs are something of a cliché, but they pack a big punch in terms of evocative design detail. If you can find one or preferably a pair, go for it! You’ll be surprised how much they delight visitors.
Hang a hammock
And on the subject of clichés: a hammock, even if you hardly ever use it, sets the tone for relaxed easy-going living like nothing else. And the color you choose will be an important part of your porch décor.
Decorate with antique artifacts or natural objects – an old wagon wheel or beautifully gnarled piece of wood – something lovely that you wouldn’t necessarily want in your living room – can make your porch feel country-style friendly.
Cushions and rugs
Modern weather-proof fabrics mean you can be extravagant with colorful cushions and rugs; consider a brighter color scheme than indoors to match the higher intensity of pure daylight; add to the intensity with bright flowering plants.
Symbols of welcome
Designers know that sometimes you place things for subliminal impact, and the usefulness is secondary. Place pretty glasses, a jug, and a bowl of fruit or petals on a stand; they give a subtle but unmistakable message of welcome.
Banish clutter and keep the steps and entrance clear. An open, clear space is welcoming; clutter says go away, we’re busy.
Don’t be afraid of old ideas: rocking chairs, hammocks and cushions all carry a message of welcome.
Keep decorative objects to a minimum, and make them natural if you can.