Use these front porch ideas to turn yours into an extension of your home, a place to relax in during the hot summer months and a haven of style and comfort.
Whether your porch is of the classic rocking-chair variety, it's small and highlights your front door, or it's a large wraparound-style that spans the front and sides of your home, there are design tips and tricks that can enhance your space.
The porch has a fond following in most countries – Dutch settlers called it the ‘stoop’ and the Spanish named theirs ‘portals’.
They epitomize indoor/outdoor living wherever you reside, and often have nostalgic roots in the past, as they were seen as a social hub to catch up with neighbors on the local news.
Today, front porches are used for all types of relaxing and entertaining, be it a shared evening drink, a solitary morning coffee, or for welcoming Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween and carolers in the winter. They can also make a perfect extension of your front yard, an elegant place to wine and dine your friends and families at the weekend.
Front porch ideas
Of course, your front porch is also a major style feature of your home's exterior, too, and should reflect your taste as well as the season.
Below we have curated some beautiful front porch ideas and designs to inspire your style, you can use them to inspire your back porch ideas, too.
1. Spell it out
For a stately look that complements both traditional and modern-farmhouse exteriors, spell out your address beneath the roof of your front porch. It's a practical, but unexpected way to share your house number, and adds a touch of formality to your front porch design.
2. Choose a welcoming color scheme
If you believe in color psychology, then your porch paint ideas will play a big part in how you and your guests feel when you walk through your front door. Bright, warm colors like pink and yellow can have an uplifting effect.
While you might not want to paint your entire home or porch a bold shade, a pop of paint or a colorful cushion can do a long way in setting a happy scene.
'When it comes to choosing the right color for your home, it’s important that you ensure the shade is harmonious with your exterior,' says James Greenwood of Graham & Brown. 'However, if you feel like experimenting and being a little bold, I love a pop of color like Ellie, a pale pink, or the happiest of all, Tuscan Sunshine, a warm yellow.'
3. Zone your front porch for a multi-purpose space
Get the most out of this prime outdoor space by dividing your porch into different zones. Above, interiors photographer Jane Beiles created separate spaces for relaxing and dining with intentional furniture arrangements.
Each area is further delineated with the use of outdoor rugs, front porch lighting ideas, planters, and a wall mirror.
4. Lay a herringbone floor
There's a lot we love about this front porch, like the Kelly green front door paint, the taupe trim against the white exterior, and the simple, season-less greenery in the planters.
But the scene-stealing design element of this front porch has to be the floor. The herringbone pattern adds a sophisticated touch to the rough-hewn brick, creating an elegant-but-inviting front entryway. It almost goes without saying, but a brick front porch earns high marks for practicality, too, since it's low-maintenance and virtually weatherproof.
5. Take design cues from your home's architecture
It’s important to ensure the porch you choose is sympathetic to your property, particularly if your home is close to other houses.
Typically, this will involve using the same materials, although contrasts can work well in some cases. A wood porch set against stone walls with an aged flagstone floor can be a magical addition to a country farmhouse, for example.
Always bear in mind that the porch roof should reflect the style of that on the house, with a visual break between the porch ridge and the first-floor windowsill.
Thatched roofs can also look charming when scaled down to porch size.
6. Choose the right front porch materials
The materials required to build your porch depend on the design and how well you want to match the construction of your property.
While enclosed designs tend to require brick or stonework, the most common materials for open porches include wood, steel and aluminum, with the former preferred for traditional, Victorian, farmhouse, and rustic country styles.
‘Cedar looks great for contemporary porches, while green oak is a nice fit for traditional designs,’ says David Sutton, owner and designer at The English Porch Company. ‘A strong wood with a high moisture content, green oak will develop cracks as it shrinks and dries to a silvery shade – all part of the charm. If you’re opting for a painted finish, a pre-treated softwood is adequate.’
7. Add character with a porch
If you live in a builder's spec home or a neighborhood full of houses that look alike, a porch is a great way to add character to your home.
Attention to detail on the posts, brackets and sides can make for a unique finish, while incorporating architectural features is a clever way of ensuring a stylish porch that’s consistent with the look of a period property.
For example, porches or porticos with classical-style architrave and columns are particularly associated with Georgian houses.
Think about color, too. Brightly painted front door ideas will work well with a complimentary shade on your porch structure or a natural finish.
Finally, flooring. Traditional floor tiles that are suitable for exterior use can be run from the porch across the threshold and into the hallway without any worry of damage by the cold weather.
8. Enhance your Victorian porch
If you’re lucky enough to have a traditional Victorian-style porch complete with intricate gables, keep it in top condition with regular painting.
‘Your front door and surround is the perfect introduction to what lies beyond, consider elements such as the vernacular of the build and a palette that has empathy with the architecture,' says Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball Brand Ambassador.
'If you're wondering how to decorate a front porch, one option is to carry the same front door color up and over the porch and other exterior wood elements for continuity – creating the simplest of decoration – this is also a great way to add scale to smaller doors.
'Alternatively, work with colors that share the same undertone or several shades lighter or darker than one another – this again will create a considered look that is timeless and attractive.’
9. Create a visual path
If you live in a Tuscan or Spanish-style home, use tile to emphasize your front porch. These beautiful stone tiles perfectly lead you up the path to this handsome porch and bold pink front door. They are inspired by the Sampietrini pavement found in the inspiring city streets of Italy and are made from thick porcelain, so they will be hard-wearing for years to come.
10. In the detail
This is a good example of cottage porch ideas with traditional detailing, as the white gable addition frames the front and adds an aesthetic appeal. Keeping it white ties it in well with the white windows and door frame. Placing terracotta pots full of pretty blooms in front will add some bold color and extra interest.
11. Use intricate ironwork
This delightfully traditional English porch has stunning intricate metalwork that is breathtakingly beautiful. Painted in classic black, the detailing stands out against the white paintwork perfectly and the symmetrical design aspect is replicated within the porch area by the two bay trees and planters with the result being a very stylish view.
12. Have a seat
Porch sizes and styles vary greatly. They can be a stunning affair wooden columns and plenty of room for seating, or they can be simple yet still beautiful like this front door with slight gable detailing and a small front porch area. Thanks to a pretty paint color, it still looks grand and stylish, and who wouldn’t like a lovely metal bench to sit on outside?
13. Create a room with a view
One of the main differences between British and American porches is the size. This porch nestled in the countryside is an extension of the home.
Taking inspiration from backyard deck ideas, the timber frame visually links the porch to the solid wood dining table and the green chairs are the perfect shade that ties in with the stunning greens in the view.
14. Make it two tone
‘The outside of our homes are often the poor relation to our interior decorating,' says Helen Shaw, director at Benjamin Moore.
'Maintaining and refreshing your exterior masonry and woodwork not only protects the surfaces but it is a fantastic way of creating an impression, particularly if you embrace color.
'Although the go-to paint is often a white or off white, choosing a bolder color is a great way of creating a feature, especially if you have beautiful doors or windows in your property.'
15. Opt for a country style look
Create your own porch with a country element by using tongue and groove paneling, Lloyd Loom chairs and metal occasional furniture. The patterned tiles add a decorative element that creates a charming feel whilst being a key focal point to the overall scheme. Co-ordinate the tiles on your porch with your kitchen floor tile ideas to seamlessly blend your indoor and outdoor spaces.
16. Add an extra room
The beauty of a porch is that you really can create a relaxing, additional outdoor living room. Adding stylish and practical furniture is key – there’s nothing nicer than sitting on a comfy couch with your legs tucked up under you with a cup of coffee and a favorite book.
If your space allows, then do consider a couch and coffee table – the rattan adds the most perfect texture to this wooden porch and you can set the scene by adding pots around them for color. Find inspiration in our guide to the best outdoor furniture or best Adirondack chairs.
17. Decorate with fresh greens and crisp whites
Choosing an accent color to highlight certain key areas works really well when designing front porch ideas for the entrance to your home.
The bold green shade in the yard above looks great on the back wall and creates the ideal backdrop. The paler shade on the patterned cushions is a clever garden decor idea that adds a decorative aspect to the sofa, or you could ground a scheme by adding one of the best outdoor rugs in your chosen accent color. Crisp white and green has always been a classic combination that’s fresh and stylish.
18. Incorporate outside dining
Designed by Marie Carson of M.Elle Design, this stunning porch oozes sophisticated style and comfort. A true extension of the interior, the neutral furniture looks fabulous on this cherry wood style decking.
‘Porches remind us of a calmer, slower paced lifestyle,' says Marie. 'There is a romanticism about rocking in a chair watching the world go by. Make sure you have comfortable seating space and add planters and greenery.'
19. Combine styles
‘A good Craftsman porch is a mix of the traditional and eclectic. Storied, warm, and inviting are words I associate with a welcoming front porch,' says Jamie Haller, Interior Designer at Jamie Haller. 'I like to bring the indoors out on a Craftsman porch, which is usually well covered.'
'An antique rug layered under traditional Adirondack chairs, fashioned with overstuffed pillows instead of outdoor cushions. A vintage marble side table is unexpected and used between them offering an inspiring place to put your glass. A drop leaf early century dinner table becomes an impromptu outdoor dining spot or a daytime work alternative.'
Much like the plants you would consider for patio ideas or balcony gardens, Jamie recommends using potted plants, or looking to the foliage around you, for some natural front porch decor: 'Using native flowers and branches cut from the tree act as a natural art in the space. Olive bushes are my favorite potted plant and offer moments of witness to the breeze. A porch should be a place of gathering and always offer a moment of escape.'
20. For small front porches, choose light colors
Emphasizing the architectural details of a smaller porch with a crisp white shade works wonderfully, especially if you have features such as corbels, stonework and stucco. You can add interest to the space by choosing a different color for the door. A fresh blue or blush pink will brighten up a grey, urban street.
Genevieve Hurley, an interior designer who works in both London and Ireland, suggests painting the immediate surround of the door in the same shade. 'Visually it makes the door look wider,' she reveals.
21. Consider architectural features
The structural design of your porch may not be easily adaptable, but consider smaller changes. Speak to your architect about adding columns, railings or newel posts.
'If you have the ability to add a window to a covered porch area, then do so. It will provide much-needed light,' explains Nikki Rees.
Californian-based interior designer, Denise Maloney recommends adding wider, decorative columns in place of existing posts. 'It may sound counterintuitive, but it really does help elongate the space and give your eyes somewhere to land,' she says.
What is a front porch?
A front porch in England is very different to one in the US. British porches were more popular during the Victorian era and although smaller than their US counterparts, were beautiful and rather intricate affairs often with delicate looking ironwork decorating gables.
As well as indicating the main entrance of the house, they were designed to protect you from the inclement weather and more often that not where found on larger houses in wealthier areas.
These days in the UK they are less decorative and more practical - that place where you pop your coats and wellies after a long walk in the country and are often enclosed.
However, in the US, the front porch originates from the early 1900s and is more of an extension, an open room attached to the front of the house, for example. A front porch is very much part of neighborly socialization in small towns where people would visit their friends sitting on their front porches in the evenings.
What are the different types of porches?
There are several different types of porch as they cover a wide range of descriptions – balcony, sun porch and patio.
Large and with a roof, they are found at the front or back the house and are seen as an essential outdoor living space, some are screened in – due to insects and extreme weather - and essentially they provide shade and a place to relax in during the hot summer months.
A ‘farmer’s’ porch is quite common and it is attached to a farmhouse-style home. It has a roof and railings and is the width of the entire house, making it large enough to accommodate family gatherings. Farmhouse-style front porch ideas often include furniture that can work both inside and out – a true extension of the interior.
How can I make a front porch look nice?
As a front porch is an extension of your home, it’s important to decorate it so it feels like a room in your house, like you are simply stepping into another area in your home.
There are so many front porch ideas to choose from, but furniture is key and good comfy chairs are an essential part of the design. You can opt for outdoor styles that are made from wicker or choose classic wooden designs that will last for years. Don’t forget to keep an eye out at antique fairs, unique pieces add character to a scheme whether it’s for inside or out.
If the weather allows, add rugs layered up for a cosy feel during the cooler months or, if you are after a colder feel underfoot opt for tiles, they can also add a decorative and colorful feel to your porch.
Hanging baskets and potted plants will look great, you can tie in the colours so they match cushions or paintwork and why not frame your front door with a pair bay trees – a classic design choice.
Another great idea is to change your accessories seasonally, you could source bright cushions and throws for the summer months and swap them out for more muted fall tones when the seasons change, it will also prevent you from becoming bored with your look!
Create a welcoming glow with outdoor lighting ideas such as hanging wrought iron pendants overhead or placing candle lanterns on your steps so you can enjoy a cosy atmosphere after the sun goes down. Festoon lights and other outdoor string lighting ideas are another fabulous option and they can be strung up along the inner wall and ceiling for special occasions like Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year.
Do you need planning permissions for a porch?
Whether or not you'll need planning permission, permits, or a land survey before adding a front porch will depend on the city in which you live, since each locality will have different guidelines and regulations.
In the U.S., you'll generally need a permit for any work that alters your home's exterior footprint, porches included. However, if you're planning to add a roof to, or enclose an existing porch, you'll likely be able to skip the permits. It's a good idea to check with your city's planning and zoning commission before starting any work.
In the U.K., a front porch can usually be built without planning permission, provided that it does not exceed a maximum area or height, and does not restrict a sidewalk or highway. Again, check with your local planning department, particularly if your property is listed or in a historical conservation area.
Steph Hendries is a freelance journalist who has contributed to many different interiors websites including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Livingetc. She has also worked on a range of social content for property brands such as Zoopla and Boomin. Steph writes for Homes & Gardens Solved section, concentrating on DIY, how to, cleaning and organizing content.
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