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Porch pointers: How to enjoy the great outdoors

Porch pointers: How to enjoy the great outdoors

With summer almost officially here, it’s prime time to make your porch or deck ready for relaxing. Getting your outdoor room in order takes just a little time, and you’ll benefit all summer long. Here are a few tips to help you get the maximum enjoyment out of the space and the season.

Clean it up
First, give your porch or deck a good sweeping and hosing down, and, if needed, a little TLC with a fresh coat of paint or sealer. You should clean your outdoor furniture as well. Avoid harsh chemicals and make a simple solution from a couple of tablespoons of liquid dish soap mixed with a bucket of hot water. With a soft brush, lightly scrub, and then rinse well and let dry. If there are stained areas on resin furniture, wipe the area with a clean rag dampened with a little white vinegar. You can also try sprinkling a little baking soda on a wet sponge to create a mild abrasive that will lift stains but won’t scratch surfaces. Metal furniture can be hosed off, but rusted areas might need to be sanded and repainted.

Look down and up
Now that the floor and the furniture are clean, consider what’s underfoot and add an outdoor rug to define the space and cozy it up. You might call attention to the spot in front of an entry door by layering a welcome mat on top of a small outdoor rug. Finally, don’t forget to look up, especially on a porch. If there’s an overhead light, switch it out for a ceiling fan with a light kit. To add evening sparkle, hang strands of outdoor string lighting overhead.

Take a seat
Is it time to refresh your furniture with new cushions? Pick those made with fabrics that have UV protection, so they’ll last several years. Then, add pops of color with lots of pillows. If space permits, arrange your furniture in zones. Create a dining zone for the dining table and chairs and a relaxing zone, where there’s a settee or swing that encourages a leisurely visit. Be sure to include a small table or two, which are ideal spots to park a cold drink.

In full bloom
For additional color and coziness, add flowers and potted plants. They also help to connect the space to the surrounding landscape. If you’re tight on floor space, bring in window or railing boxes for additional gardening spots.

Gimme some shade
To get full enjoyment from your porch or deck, make it comfortable. If your deck is fully exposed to the sun for most of the day, consider adding a large patio umbrella made with UV-protected fabrics. On a porch, you can screen the sun and provide some privacy with a roll-up shade or hang some floor-to-ceiling cotton curtains. And speaking of comfort, add a few citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes under control.

And now that the porch is ready, be sure to take some advice from the Porch Sitters Union, which promotes what it calls “the fine art of porch sitting.” It wisely recommends (and we wholeheartedly agree): Whatever you’re doing, it can wait. Take a load off and come sit a spell.


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