7 Elements of Porch and Patio Design - and Where to Find Them

Create your own sanctuary by incorporating these 7 elements of outdoor design.

Create your own sanctuary by incorporating these 7 elements of outdoor design.

Porch, patio, veranda, deck, stoop, lanai. There’s a multitude of names and even more ways to enjoy the outdoor retreats surrounding your home. Coffee and the paper in the morning. Curling up with a book in the afternoon. Friends for dinner and drinks. A snoozy siesta. However you like to spend your time outdoors, these spaces should be enjoyed as en extension of your home and given the same attention to detail as your favorite room indoors.

Many people struggle with home design in general and outdoor spaces tend to get the least attention. To make the process less painful, we’ve outlined 7 elements to consider when creating patios and porches. We’ve also included links to some of our favorite options for each element.

No matter the size of your outdoor space, think unique when it comes to choosing furniture.

No matter the size of your outdoor space, think unique when it comes to choosing furniture.

1. GET INTO THE SWING OF THINGS

Not everyone has a sprawling space to install seating for the whole neighborhood. No matter the size of the area you’re working with, try going for unique options. Filling a small space with one oversized piece like a hanging daybed or swing piled with colorful pillows and surrounded by lush potted greenery makes for a cozy getaway that wows.

See porch swing and hanging bed options

2. PLUSH PRIVACY

Although this idea can also work in small spaces, wide-open areas benefit greatly from outdoor drapery. Segment out a long width patio, create a cabana, or cordon off a private reading nook. Our favorite part - they’re budget friendly. You can snag great quality outdoor options in tasteful designs for around $30 a panel.

See outdoor curtain options

Segment a long width patio, create a cabana or cordon off a private reading nook with budget-friendly outdoor curtains.

Segment a long width patio, create a cabana or cordon off a private reading nook with budget-friendly outdoor curtains.

3. SURROUND YOURSELF IN THE ELEMENTS

Spending time surrounded by the four elements (earth, wind, fire, water) can do wonders for centering yourself - mind, body and soul. Chances are you already have earth and wind covered. Try adding in fire and water for the full relaxation experience.

See water feature options

See fire feature options

Fire features set the mood for long conversations with friends on the patio or a romantic night under the stars.

Fire features set the mood for long conversations with friends on the patio or a romantic night under the stars.

4. LIGHT IT UP

Fun lighting can be inexpensive and helps create an atmosphere everyone will enjoy spending time in.

Fun lighting can be inexpensive and helps create an atmosphere everyone will enjoy spending time in.

Summer nights are just better spent on the back patio or watching the kids ride their bikes from the front porch. Either way, lighting can make all the difference. Switch out those ugly and overly bright standards for a fun wall sconce with LED or hanging lanterns with Edison bulbs. Complement your lighting schematic with solar landscape lighting or get extra fancy with post lighting along a walkway.

See lighting options

Unique solar lighting features like this  floor lamp from Perigold  saves energy and starts conversations.

Unique solar lighting features like this floor lamp from Perigold saves energy and starts conversations.

5. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES

Unexpected use of color can bring a drab or small space to life.

Unexpected use of color can bring a drab or small space to life.

Before purchasing anything for your porch or patio, start by deciding on a color palette for your space. You can play with combinations of color schemes at COOLORS - a website for helping you create a palette that provides color codes you can use to mix paint and match textiles.

Once you have your colors, spend time sitting in your space and decide if you have opportunity for an unexpected use of color. Maybe your front door will pop in a different color (always check with your HOA if you have one) or maybe there’s a wall on your back patio that is screaming for a bright color.

Even if you don’t plan on painting, deciding on colors for furnishings, pillows, rugs, curtains and even outdoor dinnerware will make it easier to narrow down options while selecting all your pieces.

Buying Guide: The best exterior paint you can buy

Well thought-out use of color on your front door with seating can create an inviting entryway and increase your curb appeal.

Well thought-out use of color on your front door with seating can create an inviting entryway and increase your curb appeal.

6. TIE IT TOGETHER FROM THE GROUND UP

Once you’ve decided your color schematic and chosen your furnishings, curtains, lighting and fire or water elements, you can now start to put the finishing touches on your design with the next two elements.

First up, look under your feet. Unless your home came with gorgeous tile on your patio, you’ll want to cover up those cement slabs with some color and texture. If you have a healthy budget you may want to take on a hardscape project and put in hardwood, tile or other treatment.

Even if you upgrade your hardscape, an outdoor rug or two may be just the thing you needed to anchor your design concepts.

See outdoor rug options

Outdoor rugs are easy to clean and help to ground your design concept.

Outdoor rugs are easy to clean and help to ground your design concept.

7. ACCESSORIZE WITH ZEAL

Now’s your chance to throw a little extra “you” into your design. Put the finishing touches on your design by hunting for unique accessories that compliment your color scheme and your personality.

Your chosen color palette should already reflect your personality - now the hunt begins for accessories in your shade and style.

Your chosen color palette should already reflect your personality - now the hunt begins for accessories in your shade and style.

Stools, side tables, throw pillows, colorful blankets, wall gardens, potted florals, cocktail serving trays - there’s a whole world of options. Take your time with this last step. Explore online and stop in your favorite stores. Snag one piece at a time until you’ve gotten it just right.

Whatever your style - make sure it shines through in your design. Accents are an easy way to accomplish that goal.

Whatever your style - make sure it shines through in your design. Accents are an easy way to accomplish that goal.

Right now we’re obsessed with garden stools

Ok, you’re ready to begin your design plan for your outdoor sanctuary! Have fun with it and don’t forget to start with your color palette!