Back porch ideas – 12 inspiring options to maximize your outdoor space

These back porch ideas will turn your outdoor space into your favorite place to be this summer and beyond

gray house overlooking a landscaped pool
(Image credit: David Christensen / EverCraft LLC / Linda MacArthur Architect, LLC / Floralis Garden Design)

Choosing the right back porch ideas can help you enjoy your backyard year round. Whether you're the consummate host on the hunt for ways to elevate your summer barbecues, or you'd like to use your back porch as an extension of your living space through the fall, there's a porch upgrade for everyone. 

Unlike front porch ideas, your back porch will likely be private, meaning you can get a little bit more creative with your choices. In other words, your goal should go beyond simply creating a welcoming vignette, and create an area that enhances your lifestyle, too.

Back porch ideas that'll elevate your outdoor space

The best back porch ideas, like the ones we've collected below, add both style and lifestyle points to your outdoor living space. 

1. Add a pop of color to your porch ceiling

dining table on a back porch with a green ceiling

(Image credit: Andrew Suvalsky)

Interior walls aren't the only places to experiment with paint color. Your back porch can be an ideal spot to test a bold hue, too. For one, the back porch is usually a spot for relaxing or entertaining, so adding some color for your porch ceiling ideas can help set the right mood for the space. 

Plus, if you tuck the color up on the ceiling, like designer Andrew Suvalsky did at this Rhode Island home, above, this porch paint idea can be a fun surprise that's completely different from rest of your home's exterior. 

'The client and I discussed using a color that was very bold, playful, a little preppy, and evocative of the outside,' says Suvalsky. 'Originally, the property was a golf course before it was developed in the late 1800s, so it was a 'no-brainer' to go for green. The actual shade was Benjamin Moore, Basil Green #2029-10 in semi-gloss, giving an even greater depth to the paint color.'

2. Take design direction from Mother Nature

outdoor deck in the trees

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

If you aren't sure where to start with your outdoor décor ideas, simply look beyond your porch steps. Mother nature is the ultimate design inspiration. Your landscape can give you cues around color, materials, furniture orientation, and more.

On this back porch, the throw pillows nod to the colors of the sky and water views through the trees, while the live-edge cocktail table ties in the pine forest.

3. Swing the day away

white porch swing

(Image credit: CQM Design + Interiors / J Holt Manning)

Porch swings are often associated more with front porches, but there's no reason you can't add one to the back porch instead. A back porch swing not only adds practical seating, but a sense of fun and nostalgia, too.

Designer (and homeowner) Christie Manning of CQM Interiors added the swing to overlook the property's back yard, pool and tennis court. 

4. Hang paper lanterns for a magical mood at night

back porch with pergola

(Image credit: Jenny Reimold)

Creative porch lighting ideas are one of the best ways to add ambience to your back porch, and incorporating decorative lighting styles along with more task-oriented options will help set the mood for your outdoor space. 

'I love using our back porch for outdoor entertaining with guests, especially under our shaded pergola which is the perfect place to set up a seating area for an evening BBQ,' says Jenny Reimold, interior stylist & HomeGoods Style Expert. 'I like to bring the space to life and add some ambiance by tying various outdoor lanterns on branches of a nearby tree or hanging from the top of the pergola. I specifically love rattan or bamboo ones which are great for outside areas, and some even come with battery operated candles.'

5. Zone your back porch

gray house overlooking a landscaped pool

(Image credit: David Christensen / EverCraft LLC / Linda MacArthur Architect, LLC / Floralis Garden Design)

If you have a large outdoor space and you're building your back porch from scratch, consider creating a porch with multiple areas, or zones, to serve different purposes and break up the back of your house visually. 

A covered porch can be a great spot for entertaining, and housing the grill station and dining table. Then, create an open air portion of the porch for taking in the early morning sunlight with a cup of coffee. 

6. Include multiple seating options

white back porch

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

To get the most use out of your porch, set it up for as many occasions as it allows by incorporating a variety of furnishing types. 

A conversation set with a cushioned love seat and outdoor chair created an area for relaxing with a glass of wine or catching up with friends. An outdoor dining table or bistro set can offer a place for everyday dining al fresco, enjoying morning coffee, or hosting an outdoor dinner party. 

7. Add a functional element

a rustic modern back porch

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

If your back porch tends to be a major point of egress for your home, say, if your kids are constantly flying in an out of the back door when they go out to play, set up an outdoor mudroom to catch clutter (and dirt) before it enters your home.

A hall tree (or a row of wall hooks and a shelf for shoes) and a door mat are all you need to set up a drop zone for outdoor gear. This option works best on a covered porch so your belongings are kept out of the elements.

8. Make your back porch feel like an extension of the indoors

back porch with pergola

(Image credit: Jenny Reimold)

Your back porch decor can go beyond basic outdoor furnishings. Incorporating textiles, outdoor rugs, and accent pieces will make it feel like an open-air room, and an extension of your living space.

'Keep your indoor and outdoor style cohesive by adding weatherproof rugs under furniture and decorative accents in your outdoor space. I always find reasonably priced 8'x10’ indoor/outdoor rugs at stores like HomeGoods in fun, colorful patterns,' says Reimold. 'Place it under an outdoor sectional, top the sectional with a few water-resistant, tasseled pillows then add a seagrass tray to an outdoor coffee table for the perfect outdoor ‘living room.'"

9. Add outdoor curtains

porch with striped porch swing

(Image credit: Ballard Designs)

Outdoor curtains instantly create an upscale feel, reminiscent of high-end resort cabanas. For a timeless, French Riviera-inspired look, choose a classic awning stripe, and mimic the pattern across outdoor pillows and cushions.

Prefer a breezy feel? Simple, white outdoor curtain sheers add privacy and ambience while keeping the vibe airy. 

10. Take advantage of a view

wicker chair on a back porch

(Image credit: Andrew Suvalsky)

When you're contemplating outdoor furniture ideas, consider arranging seating areas to take advantage of the view. Arrange tables and chairs so they face away from the home, and towards the are of your yard that you wish to be the focal point.

Above, Suvalsky set his client's patio set to take in the view of their property's wildflower garden.

11. Create a tropical oasis

tiki hut back porch

(Image credit: Future)

Lucky enough to live in a place where a tiki hut-inspired back porch wouldn't look completely out of place? Then embrace the tropical vibes with a thatch-roof back porch and brightly colored bamboo furnishings to create an out-of-office atmosphere right in your own backyard. 

12. Screen in a back porch with shutters


(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

'Screening in a back porch is a great idea if yours is in an exposed location, whether to the elements or is overlooked by neighbors. Screening can also help keep bugs at bay, and will protect furniture from both sun and rain. It will help make your back porch more of an extension of your home, too,' says Lucy Searle, Editor in Chief, Homes & Gardens.

What are some tips for buying furniture for a back porch?

When buying back porch furniture, weather resistance is key. “Look for furniture made with polywood due to its weather-resistant durability which can withstand rain, snow, and wind in most geographic regions,' says Reimold.

In addition, your furniture should support the lifestyle you want to enjoy in your backyard. If you like to have family dinners outdoors during the summer, a sturdy dining table and a set of outdoor chairs will be a must-have. If you prefer spending your summer afternoons outside with a good book, a cushioned conversation set and a large patio umbrella will be top of your list. 

Kaitlin Madden
Executive Editor, Homes & Gardens

Kaitlin Madden Armon is a writer and editor covering all things home. Her work has appeared in Real Homes, Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, three kids, and black lab.