Decorating Tips

Reader Q: Help My Ugly Front Porch!

August 4, 2008

Jen is a reader looking for some help today with her front porch. She cannot make any structural changes but needs help with color and perhaps some furniture ideas and placement.

Reader Q: Help My Ugly Front Porch!Jen’s stoop – Any suggestions?

Jen says, “It’s a fairly useless porch and it’s waaaaaay too white. We are going to replace the screen door and I’m thinking of painting the front door a bolder color (it’s now black). The walls of the porch have been primed and I’m just trying to decide what color it should be painted. I’d like to warm up the house a bit. And I’d like the porch to reflect the style within our house, not necessarily the 60’s split level style. Our *style* could be described as eclectic–contemporary cottage, perhaps. Cozy with lots of books and comfy furniture but not cluttered. Oh–and the picture does not properly show the planting that is to the right of the front step. I’ve got a huge bunch of black-eyed Susans there right now, but would happily change it if someone has ideas. The whole area is just plain awkward.”

Hmmm… Perhaps a lovely before and after from blogger Tissue Papers may inspire Jen a little?

Reader Q: Help My Ugly Front Porch!
Reader Q: Help My Ugly Front Porch!

Or maybe Martha Stewart can help (link)? Do you have some tips to help Jen add a little curb appeal to her porch? Thanks for writing in, Jen!

(images: top from reader jen, bottom two from the tissue papers blog)


  • Reply Jean August 4, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Here’s what I see as some easy updates:
    A “cottage red” door – neither too orangey or too burgundy.
    A planter in the right hand corner with some height and girth to put volume in that area; move the existing chair forward or replace with a different chair.
    Enlarge/give more emphasis to and possibly move the house numbers.
    Find something to play up the mullioned window on the left, which looks as if it has some potential.

  • Reply Luka August 4, 2008 at 10:24 am – Good photo to look at

  • Reply tasha August 4, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I’d go with a new door mat, lose the chair, a trio of planters (varying in sizes, but coordinated – they need height), change the screened door, change the house numbers, and pick out a new light fixture – lighting is over overlooked.

    Also, trimming the bush will make it look neater.

  • Reply Andy Mathis August 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Why is it so much easier to comment on someone else’s porch? I should redo mine, but it’s just too much work, lol.

    I would leave the white walls, since the rest of the house and trim is white. Put a tall plant in a pot to the right of the door, but maybe out a little from the corner. Lose the chair. and place a wooden garden bench on the long wall. And various small plants and pots to fill if space if needed.

    Andy Mathiss last blog post: Atlanta Art Licensing Group Postcards

  • Reply Priscilla August 4, 2008 at 10:36 am

    How about affixing a trellis to the wall next to the door. It wouldn’t necessarily have to support a plant but could be painted a contrasting color (from the wall).

  • Reply Wendy August 4, 2008 at 10:38 am

    If you are more cottage like I would go with a shade of blue for the door rather than any shade of red, and I love red doors. Perhaps I am just burned out on them because I see so many of them. And maybe (I am not sure how this would look) but use the same blue color from the door as stripes of color on the panels that currently exist. I am not sure it would work because of the siding that you appear to have on the right…you house is brick and siding right? Now that I think about it I take back the suggestion of stripes, with all the white you currently have I would stick with colors on the door and or planters otherwise it would look like you haven’t finished painting your house, or at least that is what I fear.

    Unless you actually use the chair I would replace it with a tall potted something green, not necessarily something flowering but green.

  • Reply Robin August 4, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I think a nice, tall plant would do wonders! Maybe a fragrant potted lemon tree. I might consider painting the two white wood walls an interesting color and adding a welcome mat to spruce up the blah concrete.

    Robins last blog post: CNN T-shirts

  • Reply janet August 4, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I would add:

    – a tall treeor fern in the corner
    – a bolder door – red, blue or yellow
    – some cute little pots of green plants on the edge of the step
    – a hanging piece – candle holder, windchime or artsy mobile
    – if you have room, a tiny cafe table w/ one chair or maybe a little bench
    – a new light fixture & house #s if you want to spend the $

    I’d also trim the bush in front of the window on the left and plant something flowering in the flower bed by the porch on the right.

  • Reply Jean August 4, 2008 at 11:07 am

    As an addendum to Tasha’s suggestion to trim the bush under the window on the left-I’d add a plant to the immediate left of the stoop with some more volume. That particular area seems bare at the moment, and will only seem more so if volume is added to the right of the door.

  • Reply Manuchao August 4, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I love the idea of red to warm up the place. But that may be me thinking about how I’d love to have a red door. I wonder if it would be too much to paint the walls of the porch red, and keep the black door. And then with highlights of potted green plants – I agree with having some height with plants would be lovely. Since you’re still is eccletic, having assorted potted plants would be nice. Or for a more streamlined look, wooden boxes with tall plants.

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks, everyone! Great suggestions–and I hope they keep coming!

    Some ideas I really like:
    –painting the door blue–I LOVE blue and never thought of using on the exterior other than with pots, etc.
    –a trellis for the wall for a architectural interest. Should I paint a shade close to the door (if I paint it blue)?
    –replacing the house numbers. I never even thought of that!

    As for plants for the porch, I totally agree and used to have a large planter there. The only thing is what do you do for the cold months to keep it looking nice? I live in NE Pennsylvania, so even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of a lemon tree…

    Jens last blog post:

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Oops! A couple more things–I’m thinking of covering the porch and riser in slate. What do you think??

    I currently have an azalea on the left of the porch (next to the bushes that were trimmed shortly after this picture!!) but it’s really tiny right now. Should I have planted something with height instead of width?

    AND, what kind of light fixture? A hanging one would bump people on the head, I think.

    Jens last blog post:

  • Reply Janet August 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Here are a few examples of flush mount lighting for your porch

    Large metal house numbers, maybe that coordinate with the light fixture.

    I like the slate idea also. I have slate in my entry, it is wonderful, low maintenance, very durable.

    Pots on rollers you can change out with the seasons, evergreens for the fall and winter months? Bulbs and color for spring and summer?

    Trim trim trim, it makes everything look new even if it isn’t.

    Have fun!

    Janets last blog post:

  • Reply Priscilla August 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    You could swag a light over to the side of the door.

  • Reply Dina August 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I love these faux topiaries from Ballard Designs, they’re really fun and playful…you could probably paint them a fun color as well.

    Dinas last blog post: Stepping outside of the box (on a killer heel)

  • Reply liss August 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Jen ~

    Consider how the trellis will interact with the door, numbers, brick, and your bushes, if there are too many places to look it will begin to be crazy instead of soothing. Blue is a great choice, orange will pop out, gray will fade away a little more.

    I’m never a fan of bushes. That said, going with width extends the plant line you already have under the window. If you have really prominent house numbers above the eye will travel upwards. If you think you’d rather go with height choose a sculptural tree – it will look good in winter and spring, and not overwhelm in summer or fall.

    In the winter planters are a fun place to pile of “detritus” (pine cones, sculptural branches, firewood, even place a collection of old glass on top of a cutting board set on the planter. Or place a bird feeder/bath on top of it.

    If you really want a hanging lamp you could get one with a cord, “plug” it into the ceiling “socket” and let it hang to the side, in the corner. Otherwise I’m out, not knowing what sort of style fixtures you like. (Personally I love old-fashioned lanterns [got to Home and type in “lantern” for lots of examples or exposed bulbs in a flute fixture.)

    Good luck!

    lisss last blog post: the feminine appearance: an assignment

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    LOVE those, Dina! I think I’m going to go with one of the tall ones and leave it white. I’m thinking that I’ll paint the door blue, the walls a warm sandy taupe, leave the tall topiary white and place it next to the door, install a wall sconce and cover the stoop in slate.

    Thanks everyone and keep ’em coming!

    Jens last blog post: My Ugly Stoop is *Famous*!

  • Reply melissa August 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I think that you could really do A LOT with the facade. I wish that I could see more of the whole house before giving my thoughts because I want to make sure that everything works well together. One thing I like to do is take a picture of a space I want to change for myself or a client, put it into photoshop (its the program that I know, but I am sure there are a lot out there that work really well for this!) and overlay colors on top of the spaces. Anyhow – no need to do this of course, but it really does help a lot of my clients visualize :)

    So my thoughts, especially if you are eclectic / contemporary cottage, would be to paint the brick a warm gray. One of my favorites is Benjamin Moore’s Galveston Gray (AC-27). Then I would leave the paneling white b/c this will help emphasize the cottage feeling. A great white is Glacier White b/c it has a little gray in it and won’t turn pink or yellow, too colors I really don’t like in my whites! Then I would paint the ceiling of the porch area an interesting pale blue (think cottage, not baby’s room!) – something like Palladian Blue (HC-144). This is going to bring in a little more color, but in a very unexpected way, and not overwhelm the small area. For the door (the fun part) I think that you could go with either a yellow (Citron 2024-30) or a cool dill green (Jalepeno Pepper 2147-30). A burnt red would work too, though for some reason its not my favorite. I would paint all the trim on the house the bright white, and anywhere there is the stone paint it gray. Anywhere you have the overhang showing paint the “ceiling” the blue color and all the other doors of the house you can either paint the bright white, or if you want the door to stand out paint it the green or yellow.

    For furniture / accessories on the porch, do you think you will ever sit there? If so, something rustic/chic like this bench would work on the long wall to the right!stmenu_template.main?
    And then you could … or even this would look great (regardless of the door color you choose): You could hang three of these above the bench (high enough so that no one hits there head) and they could work as ambient light as well as “art” for the wall above the bench (hang them from these:
    Now… if you don’t see yourself sitting out there, then I completely agree with Tasha – a trio of planters where there is currently a chair would look great. Something like this:… the varying heights are key! and the metal works well with cottage and contemporary!

    Hope this helps!!

  • Reply Christa August 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I love the blue door idea, and you need a bench to place, painted red or orange something that pops and contrasts with the blue door (add a nice neutral cushion in the grays of the brick to tie it in). New numbers and a neat wall light (personally I would go for a craftsman style light and bench in clean simple lines) right by the door. Nice mat at the door and a full view screen door so the door color can really show up.

    Potted plants beside the porch & sidewalk (think those big rectangle planters) not on it which make the porch look bigger and not take up any of the small space. You could also do a clematis vine climbing the bricks at the corner to soften that edge. And fill that triangle between the door/shrub/pavers with a short flowering ground cover and maybe a fountain or interesting art piece or buy a big topiary in boxwood or rosemary just need some height there, even day lilies at the house & porch edge would help. Trim the bush in front of the window

    I would also look into some designed or plain tiles, hopefully pull the door color into them to edge the vertical rise of the porch edge/stair in (that would be such a neat pop of color). You could also do that look with concrete paint.

  • Reply melissa August 4, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    oops… i somehow didnt link to the lanterns i was talking about:… i love them in the blue color, and hanging from the p.barn hooks would look great!

    as for the slate – i think it will look really beautiful! esp. if you choose a gray/blue slate… good luck!!

  • Reply paperNstitch August 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    What a great transformation…simple but drastic. There is a house down the street from us that has a bright yellow door, and I have always loved it.

  • Reply brooke August 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I think all the good ideas have been given. But:

    – Paint the porch cove a color that matches the brick to create a clean, unbroken look.

    – Blue door, but use a vibrant blue, or seafoamy green-blue! Like the PRESS tab up at the top of this blog.

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    WOW! SO many good ideas, but I have to iterate that I’ve since PRUNED MY BUSHES! I’m starting to get a complex! ;o)

    I would LOVE to change my brick, even with paint, but unfortunately what does NOT show up in the picture is the bizarre style of oozing mortar which makes it almost impossible to change.

    I have a lot of great ideas, though, and if you’d like to check in on my progress, come to in Autumn to see what I did (and I’ll probably ask Holly to post it too!)

    Jens last blog post: My Ugly Stoop is *Famous*!

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I have slate on my front porch and the front walk; it looks fantastic but it can get slippery when wet.

    At the risk of sounding like an echo, I would definitely put something with height on the porch.

  • Reply Pina August 5, 2008 at 4:00 am

    I would hang a flower pot on the right wall or plant a rose or any other kind of shrub that climbs on the right side of the porch. A good idea is also to hang a picture drawn on wood or any other object on the right wall.

    I would change the floor – a wooden floor would be nicer, or slates that don’t get slippery (I have such at my backyard porch). I always say – if they managed to get to the Moon, all things are possible, even changing your porch! :) Good luck!

    Pinas last blog post: Books

  • Reply Laundrybasketcase August 5, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Hi Jen,

    I think slate will look great! If you want a nice topiary tree for colder climates, how about a conifer lollipop tree. They really smarten up a front porch and are easy to look after. I think new sophisticated house numbers will do wonders too.
    Could you possibly change the position of the light so that it isn’t overhead, but to the side of the door? I think a light like this fisherman’s style one would work well.
    I also like the idea of painting the door a nice shade of blue, blue doors always seem so welcoming. Best of luck.

    Laundrybasketcases last blog post: Kitchen Conversions

  • Reply Lisa - Tissue Paper August 5, 2008 at 10:38 am

    WOW – thanks for sharing my stoop transformation! That was a nice surprise.

    Thanks so much!
    Lisa Ancarrow-Maltby
    Tissue Papers

    Lisa – Tissue Papers last blog post: Second entry

  • Reply Mary Grace August 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I agree with Pricilla # 5

    Add a nice trellis (a contrasting color to what ever you paint the door)
    EX Blue door, Sunny yellow trellis
    Green door, pink trellis
    red door, green trellis
    Of course trim the front hedge and add a long window box with chunky brackets.

  • Reply China Carnella May 9, 2011 at 5:06 am

    So here’s what I would start with, not having read anything above. Perhaps you could paint the walls and trim that is currently white a similar color to the stone. Go for a bold red door, with an amazing knocker on it, perhaps a gold lion or something. Then, I would carpet the floor area in FLOR indoor/outdoor heavy use carpet tiles, hang a rattan nest-like chair from the ceiling, and put a colorful cushion on it. Then I’d put a big green leafy plant next to it, and perhaps a small table for a drink or a book near the chair. Add a delicate wind chime and you have spruced up your patio.

  • Reply Kendal Seely June 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Need help! If I am not allowed to rip up that hideous blue astro turf… What then? Build a floating deck? Throw an ugly rub down? Why! Why blue astro turf?? Haha any cool ideas appreciated!

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