Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to design a chic and warm front porch.

A front porch—whether open or enclosed— has the kind of warm, simplistic charm that makes a house truly a home.

In a lot of ways, it’s where your house makes its first impression on visitors, neighbors and passersby,” said Gwendolyn Purdom, Houzz editor and writer based in Palo Alto, California.

“Not only does it give you a kind of buffer between your indoor and outdoor spaces, it can also be a perfect set-up for entertaining a group or relaxing alone in the fresh air,” she said.

For ideas on making the space your own, follow these tips from the pros.

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Make it Comfortable

“The layout should always be easy to walk through and around since this is a transient space. I always like to use one longer sofa and then a chair or two with foot rests all configured to face each other for easy conversation and relaxation. Furniture that can weather the outdoors is a must. It should also match the style of your home so it blends in instead of sticks out. I like to stick with neutral colors and natural textures. Indoor/outdoor rugs are easy to clean and work well in geometric patterns or solid neutral colors.

"I like the colors of a porch to reflect the natural surroundings. If the house is in a very woodsy area I would incorporate some beautiful tones of moss green and beige. If it’s a beach house I would add some blues and creams. Overall, less is more on a porch so as not to take away from the exterior of the house itself. 

"Plants on a porch are a must. The porch blends the indoors and outdoors so some natural elements help make this transition cohesive. I love simple greenery like boxwoods or large palm leaves.”

Designed by Lauren Behfarin, this stately home’s small front porch gives a refined appearance that’s
Designed by Lauren Behfarin, this stately home’s small front porch gives a refined appearance that’s in keeping with the home itself.</p> <p>
Photography Courtesy of Lauren Behfarin Design, Charlie Juliet Photography

— Lauren Behfarin, of Manhattan-based Lauren Behfarin Design 

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Focus on Form and Function

“Thinking through exactly how you intend to use the porch should help narrow things down. If you want to relax and read, a hammock might be a smart pick. If you often want to have friends over for drinks and dinner, consider pieces that could make up an outdoor kitchen and bar.

"You can usually glean some style clues from the house itself. A classic Southern-style home with a dramatic wraparound porch, for instance, works well with a traditional porch swing or a pair of rocking chairs. If your house is more modern, cleaner lines and styles make sense. Echoing the house’s scale and formality is a good place to start, though porches tend to be inherently more casual.

"About eight feet of depth will give you plenty of room to play around, but even if you only have four feet or so, you can still fit in a few pieces of furniture. Mounted outdoor TVs might dictate a seating arrangement that affords everybody a view of the screen. If you’ll be serving meals, make a dining table a central focal point. If you want to allow for multiple uses, and have the room for it, designate zones using rugs or coordinating throw pillows and furniture.  

"A mix of colors, patterns and textures can make things feel more laidback and lived in. …. In addition to adding freshness, color and visual interest, potted or hanging plants can make a porch feel cozier or more whimsical. Your porch might lend itself to adding a trellis for climbing vines or some potted edible plants, provided there’s enough sunlight spilling onto them.

"Porch lights are yet another way to draw the eye to that entryway. Lighting should be relatively even, so if your door is anchored by wall-mounted lanterns, consider adding recessed lighting in the ceiling to spread the glow further. Pendants hanging in the middle of the ceiling will produce an all-over shine, as opposed to sconces that shoot light up and down, though those might be your best bet if you’re highlighting the vertical lines of your house.”

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—Gwendolyn Purdom, Houzz editor and writer based in Palo Alto, California

Add Character

“My main goal when selecting furniture for a front porch is that it not only be utilitarian but also sculptural. It needs to be a piece that has a beauty to it beyond the functional. I also like to choose pieces that do not require constant maintenance or protection from the elements. Adding a pop of color to distinguish this area from other porches and exterior doors will direct you to enter. Choose a color that complements your interior.

"Rugs add a softness that aids in creating the feeling of warmth and welcome. While beautiful, the rug must be practical as it will get a great deal of abuse being the first thing that people set foot on as they arrive. There have been amazing advances in outdoor rugs that allow you to have beautiful and practical rugs.

"The plants that you choose should continue the overall story told by the landscaping of a property.”

A rocking chair and potted plant create a warm welcome to this home designed by Phillip Thomas.
A rocking chair and potted plant create a warm welcome to this home designed by Phillip Thomas.
Michael Mundy

Phillip Thomas, founder and principal of Phillip Thomas Inc. in New York  

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