While it may appear challenging to decorate a small front porch area, don't let the diminutive size put you off.
A compact porch offers a unique experience to create something special, making the most of whatever space you do have and, in turn, offering a wonderful first impression for visitors.
From New-England style walk-up porches to a compact and contemporary structure that just about covers the front door, it's important to approach a small porch with thought and create something that works for the architecture and scale of your home. Whether you're looking for a way to decorate a small porch or you're building one from scratch, you'll want your small front porch ideas to feel like a natural extension of your home.
Small front porch ideas
A porch, even a small one, is the ultimate mix of form an function. It adds visual dimension and character to the front of your home, while also offering a place to step out of the elements when opening the front door. These ideas consider both.
1. Use space wisely
If your home has a small front porch, resist the urge to cram you light fixtures, mailbox, house numbers, doorbell, and flag pole all onto your home's exterior. Instead, give each element some breathing room by mounting your house numbers and/or your flag pole on the porch beams, instead.
2. Stagger planters down the steps
When you are working with any sort of space constrictions, it's important to make the most of what room you do have. The same goes when deciding how to decorate a front porch. Here, stylist Michelle Cannon Smith (opens in new tab) maximized her front porch by adding planters to each step. It's the perfect way to make a statement with limited space.
3. Introduce subtle interest with paint and concrete
Emphasizing the architectural details of a smaller porch with a crisp white shade works wonderfully, especially if you have a modern home. You can add interest to the space by choosing a different color for the door. A fresh blue or sorbet yellow will brighten up a grey urban street. Alternatively, a classic wooden door will create a unique contrast to the contemporary structure.
For architectonic interest, create multiple levels with your front yard walkway. Here, floating concrete steps give the illusion of more space.
4. Keep the surrounding area clean and free from clutter
First impressions are everything, so make sure your small front porch – and front door – is a good one. Whatever your space or budget, there are many ideas to make a difference to your own humble porch.
Give the surrounding area a good clean and clear out any items that might be in the way. Even polishing a letterbox or door knocker will do a world of good.
5. Be at one with your surroundings
It’s important to coordinate the front door with the rest of the house, suggests Rebecca Thompson, Color Designer at Dulux, a UK paint brand. ‘Look closely at the underlying hues within your walls and natural surroundings to ensure they don’t clash. Get inspiration from your neighbors, too, and try for a unified look. A street with complementary tones looks more appealing than a mishmash of clashing colors.'
6. Add interest with color
Being creative with color, a specialist finish or decorative effect is the perfect way to give your small front porch individual style. For an unexpected look, embrace a colorful painted design for your porch ceiling ideas.
It is best to go for colors that make you happy and have longevity. If in doubt, it is often advised that you consult the color wheel.
‘Current paint trends show a real shift towards using bolder and brighter colors outside,’ says Sue Kim, senior color designer at Valspar. ‘When choosing a front porch paint color, don’t forget to look beyond the walls – consider the door and window frames – and how they can be brought into the scheme for a statement look.’
7. Use the same color throughout
Whether you have a covered porch or one that's open to the elements, choosing the same color for the ceiling and walls will help lift the space and make it feel more expansive.
'It's important to think about the flow, so paint the ceiling and the walls the same color. Also, think about what color you have in the hallway. There should be a thread that follows throughout and complements your hallway paint ideas,' advises Nikki Rees who runs an interior design practice in south west London.
8. Connect with other outdoor spaces
If your porch leads to a front garden area, think about how to keep the look cohesive. Use similar plants, choose paint colors that echo nature or speak to your designer about emulating the architectural features seen in your pathway or stonework.
In this California property, designed by Taylor Lombardo Architects (opens in new tab), not only does the stonework provide a cohesive look, but so do the plants surrounding the porch.
9. Light it well
At the Southampton, New York home, above, by designer Mary Patton (opens in new tab), the oversized lantern sconces help provide a visual framework for the small front porch.
'Opt for a pair of wall lights, perhaps to frame your front door or to hover over a standing plant. This will allow for an even spill of light where it's needed most, especially in the darker winter months when outdoor lighting is essential,' advises Rohan Blacker, founder of lighting company, Pooky (opens in new tab).
Rohan also suggests using a range of different wall lights to create a lighting feature. 'Play around with the lights’ direction and focal points – illuminate your house number, your brightly painted front door or your favorite porch plant.'
10. Keep it simple
Keep everything simple and unfussy in a small front porch. Don't try to fit in a seating area if there's not enough space. Remove anything that is tired, worn out or not used. Then include things that have a practical or a multi-functional purpose.
'If you do have space, a bench is a great addition to a porch,' advises interior designer, Genevieve Hurley. 'I recently designed a stone-clad bench for a client which could be lifted up and used to store shoes.'
11. Get clever with plants
Overgrown shrubs can overpower a front porch, so opt for smaller versions and consider symmetry.
'Use plants in pots on either side of your doorway to frame the entrance,' advises interior designer, Genevieve Hurley. 'Whether it's two tall bay trees or lavender in low boxes, planting can help elevate the space. You can also add window boxes to tie the look together.'
12. Add tall decorative elements
For the space immediately in front of your door, consider decorative elements such as lanterns, plant stands, stone decorations and an umbrella basket – these items are taller rather than wider, so will complement a small porch.
What can I do with a small front porch?
Making your small porch into a functional, yet stylish addition to your home is key.
'Get the balance right, you need to make sure it feels open and spacious, but also allows for a practical space,' advises interior designer Nikki Rees.
If you live in the country, an area for shoe storage might be useful, whereas in urban areas your porch lighting might need to work harder for security purposes. Speak to your architect or designer about the practical elements you need to consider before you start planning the decoration.
How do you decorate a small front porch?
'Keep it as open as possible – it will make the space feel larger,' says Nikki Rees. Avoid fussy details and instead embrace symmetry with simple items placed around the front door. 'Whatever color you choose for your front door, opt for a high gloss finish,' advises Genevieve Hurley. 'Not only is it more hard-wearing, but it bounces light around, making your porch area look bigger.'
Choose lighting that enlarges the space and makes it feel more expansive. 'Use spotlights to highlight dark corners and open up your porch area,' explains Rohan Blacker. 'By using a simple wall light to draw focus to feature elements, this will naturally give your space a larger feel.'
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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