From seating ideas to the right kind of lighting, interior designers share their advice.

By Caroline Biggs
February 17, 2021
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No matter what size porch you have, know that this outdoor space is teeming with design opportunities. "For me, a porch is to a home what an epigraph is to a novel, setting the mood and foreshadowing what is to come," says interior designer Liz MacPhail. "And it doesn't have to be big to set the stage." Along with adding livable square footage to your home, even the smallest of porch spaces provides us with a place to retreat outdoors. "When we're all confined within our homes, having a space to step out for fresh air is a true luxury," says Dominique Fluker of DBF Interiors. "Even if your porch is small, there are ways to turn it into a space where you can work, relax, or read."

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Fortunately, with the right furniture and décor, you can maximize any size porch. From seating ideas to the right kind of lighting, here's how interior designers suggest taking advantage of limited square-footage.

Consider Hanging Seating

A comfy outdoor lounge chair can turn a small porch into a cozy nook in no time. "Opt for one great chair versus a subpar pair," Megan Hopp advises. "A small porch will look so much cleaner with one sizable chair to fill the space that is a dream to sit in, as opposed to squeezing in two smaller, less comfortable seating options that no one will end up wanting to land on."

For a small porch-friendly chair that's every bit as comfortable as it is stylish, Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo says you can't go wrong with a swing chair or hanging bench. "A hanging chair helps free up space for a side table and décor accessories, as well as additional seating."

Stick with Slender Furnishings

When you're working with limited porch space, Carneil Griffin of Griffin Direction Interiors says it's crucial to find functional furniture pieces that won't further cramp up the area. "Look for chairs and side tables with slim profiles but that are made of durable, outdoor-friendly materials, like powder-coated metal," he says. "This way, you can integrate more furnishings into the space without creating visual clutter."

If you have room for more than one seat on your porch, Ariel Okin also says clean-lined rocking chairs are a great solution. "Thin rocking chairs always do the trick when you need additional seating," she explains.

Use Décor Strategically

When it comes to decorating a small porch, Okin says it pays to go vertical. "Instead of trying to squeeze a bunch of colorful accessories into a small porch space, consider painting the front door, or the porch ceiling, a bold color," she says. "You can also integrate a colorful outdoor rug or doormat to brighten things up without taking up valuable space."

Of course, good lighting is also key when outfitting a small porch space. "Hanging lanterns and strings lights can create an ambient atmosphere when you don't have the wiring for wall sconces or overhead lighting," Fluker says.

Use Plants to Create Privacy

No outdoor living space would be complete without a little greenery, and a small porch is no exception. "Along with providing shade and decorative interest, voluminous plants help create a sense of privacy on a small porch," Fluker says. "Hanging planters work great for this, especially when paired with big leafy, vining plants." If you don't have a porch ceiling to hang a planter from, Lynn Berney and Tracy Gould of LT Design Studios suggest showing off your plants in decorative planters to elevate the scene. "You can choose one color or style of pot or container to maintain consistency and uniformity," Gould says.

Keep the Space Neat and Organized

Above all else, Hopp explains that the most important thing you can do to make the most of a small porch is keep the space clean and mess-free. "My forever philosophy of fewer bigger things is so incredibly important on a porch as it entirely sets the scene for your home," she explains. "The last thing you want is a bunch of teeny tiny pieces cluttering up your space and thus welcoming everyone (and yourself) to your home with a chaotic vibe."

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