For the most part, swing seats come 4 or 5 feet long; they may be contoured or flat. Seat depth varies widely, from 18 to 36 inches. The porch swing Norm built measures 4 feet long and has a seat that is 18 inches deep, dimensions he finds just right. Since comfort comes down to personal preference, it's a good idea to test-drive a swing before you buy.

Style differences emerge mainly in the swing's back: It may be squared off or curved, and constructed with horizontal or vertical slats, which may be set close together or spaced wide apart. While the peaked back of an Adirondack-style might seem more appropriate for the porch of a clapboard cottage than a brick Georgian, most swings can adapt to their architectural surroundings with the addition or omission of fabric-covered cushions.

Whatever way a porch swing is personalized, its appeal remains universal. When Suzanne Henninger bought her cottage four years ago, “the swing was the very first thing I added,” she says. “When friends come to visit me, they rock on that swing, then go home and buy one. It's contagious.”
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