For many families, the only living things actively using their home’s porch are the ones building nests under the roof eaves. In other words, the porch has literally gone to the birds. That’s all about to change, courtesy of an unstoppable outdoor living design market. The new designation for the porch is “second living room,” and with spring in full bloom, there’s no better time to realize the magnificent, nest-free potential of this untapped space.
The first step to reclaiming your home’s porch is to refresh the space. Left unused, wooden decks go from ooh and ahh to ew and agk in short order. Remove all existing objects and thoroughly clean the surface. This may be as simple as a a good, hardy sweep with an industrial strength bristle push broom, rinse and seal. More extensive jobs may involve tightening fasteners, tapping down popped nails, and renting a pressure washer from a local home improvement store.
Paver patios undergo the same regiment: pressure wash to break up grime, mildew, dirt and blast weeds away. Rinse, re-sand, and sweep
Three key elements make up a great summer porch:
A strong foundation is structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. If you can stick the tip of a screwdriver into a post or joist of your wood deck, the boards are rotted, and need to be replaced. For stone or gravel patios, root growth, bulges, and dips indicate it’s time for a rebuild.
Upgrading your patio from gravel to mason-laid stones may be in the cards. Pavers, interlocking clay, brick, cobbles, or quarried stone, are the height of sophistication and strength. A less cost-prohibitive option is stamped concrete, whereby wet cement is embossed to look nearly identical to natural stone, brick, and even timber, while significantly more malleable, moldable, stainable, and customizable. Imagine pouring an oval concrete patio with saw cuts mimicking football stitching to pay homage to your favorite sport!
If budget allows, a popular summer porch makeover involves installing a second-story deck. This is not a DIY project due to the complex nature of construction and extensive building code requirements. Plan to hire a contractor, an electrician, painters, and a structural engineer. All total, the cost will be between $35-$50 per square foot, or $5000-$17000 for a complete, second story deck construction
The second feature of a proper summer porch is a viable entertainment area. Here, personal preference is key to defining the perfect space to accommodate guests, throw parties, host barbecues, or create a private retreat to relax with loved ones. Common considerations are whether the space will be fully, or partially enclosed, screened or glassed-in, open air, minimally equipped or decked out to support an entire outdoor kitchen.
The final feature of a superior summer porch is having it be bug-free. There are several ways to protect your outdoor living space from biting buzz killers, starting with a yard misting insecticide treatment. Additionally, fill in any hollow tree stumps, low-lying areas or flood zones, clear the surrounding area of trash, leaves, lawn clippings, clear out rain gutters and storm drains, and properly maintain and filtrate pools or ponds.
Now is the time to decorate your porch with furnishings and features. To provide direction, here is the must-have checklist for the complete summer porch makeover:
Do you want a fully-enclosed housing structure to protect from the elements? In that case, you can build a screened-in patio or deck-top pavillion. For partial enclosure, opt for the pergola, a wall-less frame made of wood or metal beams with a customizable rooftop, from canvas canopy, exposed bamboo beams, latticed teak, and even tin.
Each building structure should have wide, open views via arbor archways, large-scale windows, skylights, retractable awnings, or shade valances to ensure those inside can fully experience the beauty of the outside.
The range of options go from simple charcoal grill, to all-inclusive Michelin worthy food preparation stations with stainless steel appliances and amenities for ages, including hybrid grills that cook with wood, charcoal, and gas so that you can slow cook an entire brisket overnight or sear a dozen steaks in under 10 minutes at 800 degrees, warming drawers, griddles, backsplashes, dishwashers, wire racks, ice chests, wine coolers, and pizza ovens.
laid into a base of stucco, stacked stone, or brick, covered with countertops made of stone, tile, faux-leather quartzite, or the immensely popular painted concrete, cooking islands, and powder-coated stainless steel Louver door cabinetry made to look like wood that feature seamless rain gutters surrounding every door and drawer to keep contents safe and dry.
Embellish a ground patio with a coy pond or tulip fountain, or soften a wooden porch with Japanese rain catchers, water flumes, cascading wall geyser or even a hot tub.
Turn up the heat of your summer porch with a chiminea, fire pit, terracotta brick oven, or outdoor fireplace
Incorporate the surrounding wildlife into your porch with flower and herb boxes, multi-sized and shaped pots, hanging ceramic planters, or the now trending fabric pocket planters. Stimulate the senses with eye-popping snapdragons, delphiniums, daffodils, poppies and pansies and invite natural pollinators with nectar-rich salvia, bee balm, honeysuckle and zinnias.
Today’s outdoor seating products set a new bar in comfort, design, and durability. Choose from wrought iron cafe chairs, eucalyptus rockers, wicker-woven Adirondacks, hammocks, iron-framed sofas and sectionals, and charming Southern bed swings enveloped behind sheer princess canopies.
Open-air porches are best complemented by over-sized communal tables made of salvaged wood.
Decorate the surrounding floor space with all-weather accessories, ornate area rugs, throw pillows, privacy screens, antique mirrors, and creatively recycled objects.
Illuminate your summer porch at night with no-wire solar luminaries or antique sconces, hanging lanterns, candle chandeliers, strung globe lights, rust-proof resin floor lamps, votives, and Tiki Torches. Provide added comfort from the heat with floor, wall or ceiling mounted fans to the high-end luxury misters.