Brown Candelabra, $29.99, Canadian Tire.


There’s nothing like a shady, breezy porch where you can while away the summer hours. But if the porch furniture arrangement consists of three seats facing the street and nothing else, the design team would rather sit inside.


We beg you to avoid the chairs-against-the-wall design crime; group your seating as best you can into a cozy conversational grouping — have some chairs face the house if possible.

Creative furniture arrangements can save even the narrowest of porches. The bottom line is that we (and everybody else we know) love a porch that says “relax” and means it. The good news is that it’s not hard to do.

First of all, change your mindset about porches. Think of a porch as an outdoor room complete with cushy chairs, pillows, rugs, and the other accoutrements of an indoor room.

Cover up concrete surfaces and hard unadorned outdoor furniture. Instead, furnish your porch furniture with cushions or fabric covers, and put a rug on the floor.

Steer toward pieces that have texture, such as bamboo, wicker, twig, some metals or weathered wood. Include coffee and side tables so everyone sitting on your porch has a space to set down their lemonade. And finally, include a centrepiece on the table — plants, candles and other decorative pieces to make the space downright homey. Woven baskets are a favourite of ours.

And don’t think you necessarily need to buy brand-new pieces — porches can look great with artistically arranged garden or household objects. For example, take a couple garden urns or large terra cotta flowerpots, top them with a piece of glass with rounded edges and use it as a table. Use a birdbath as a magazine holder. Add window boxes on the railing. Use mossy-looking garden ornaments as conversation pieces.

Don’t forget rugs to anchor your porch furniture. Consider sisal or jute, or indulge your inner artist by hand-painting a “rug” on canvas, protecting it with several layers of polyurethane and laying it on the porch floor. Some types of linoleum or vinyl may also be used as canvases for your floor art.

Also consider panels or fabric at the sides and/or front of the porch to add a delightful breezy look. We love the sheer curtain look, especially at the front of the porch. Light-coloured sheers, hung from a pole attached to the ceiling, look airy and delightful. We’ve also seen fabric shower curtains that have looked great on a porch. For privacy, striped awning material, or lattices with a vine, or canvas shades do a great job.

Another great idea is to attach a candle chandelier to the ceiling of a porch. It looks simply gorgeous just hanging there and in the evening it creates a romantic mood. Just be careful to hang it so that candles pose no fire hazard, and that it is extinguished when no one is on the porch.

Of course, you must consider whether your furniture needs to be weatherproof. If your porch is covered and is not exposed to rain, you may use upholstered furniture or pillow and cushions of the same fabrics you find inside your house. If, on the other hand, your porch is exposed to the elements, you must select furniture and especially pillows and cushions that are covered in waterproof or at least water-resistant coverings.

And don’t settle for vinyl or starchy fabrics — there are plenty of stylish weather-resistant fabrics on the market these days.

Finally, you can relax on your comfy new porch. And if it’s large enough for a hammock, you can snooze away those hot summer afternoons in style.

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