by Ellen M. Barnes

Now that Memorial Day weekend is behind us, I’m willing to bet most all of you have quite recently spent time sitting on a deck or porch, especially since the weather here in Nashville has been on point. Maybe you admired one porch or critiqued another for its functionality (for instance, while the sun concentrated on burning the shoulders of my party guests this past weekend, I wondered why I hadn’t invested in a new umbrella yet); either way, you wouldn’t have clicked on this post if you haven’t thought of revamping your porch, deck, or other outdoor space. Here are some ideas to get you started:

porch ideas

1) Create a shade room. We spied this “shade room” in the June issue of Better Homes and Gardens and loved the idea of it because it’s kind of a hybrid between an outdoor space and an indoor room. Built simply with two walls, a roof, and electricity, it shelters a sectional, area rug, and a flat-panel TV. I couldn’t find the image online, so I scanned the magazine pages for your viewing pleasure. Or at least that was idea before the scanner ate the paper and crumpled it to bits. That’s why there are two half-humans and a half-dog in this clipping. You’ll have to use your imagination to fill in the rest.

Better Homes and Gardens Gina Corvino Shade Room

2) Rethink the porch swing. You can’t go wrong with a classic porch swing, but we also love all the quirky reinterpretations of the porch swing, including swinging porch beds (the one shown below is made of pallets), and these hanging pod chairs are perfectly awesome.

palets tessituras (1)

3) Build a hanging bar. Blair Munday, who lives in in East Nashville and keeps the blog A Case of the Mundays, recently devised the hanging bar pictured below with her husband Wade and installed it on their screened porch. Built of old barnwood, rope, and a little hardware, it is simple, perfect, and will surely see a lot of use over the years.

screened porch bar copy

4) Consider your interior. Pay as much attention to detail with your outdoor spaces as you do your indoor rooms, and take into account your personal style and existing color palette right along with logistical considerations like how a piece of furniture will stand up to the weather. Is your house traditional? Rustic? Glamorous? Make sure that’s reflected on your porch, too.

glamorous porch

5) Think eclectic. Even if “flea market style” is the furthest thing from your taste, you’re going to end up with a much more attractive porch if you don’t just do one-stop outdoor furniture shopping at one of the big box hardware stores. Search Craiglist or browse a local vendor for some quality wrought iron or rattan pieces that will last you a lifetime, and resist the urge to get completely coordinated outdoor pieces. Instead, to make sure your collected accessories look unified, stick to a consistent color palette throughout the space.

flea market porch

For more porch decorating ideas, read our post here. We’ve also written a post about easy ways to create privacy on your porch. And we invite you to check out the gallery of screened porches, screen rooms, and other outdoor structures we’ve built for customers in the Nashville area.