outdoor room with plush, comfortable furniture, white porch swing, and end table with potted plant
Photo Richard Felber (Styling by Michelle Lay)
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Furnish a porch, deck, or patio like a living room

The furniture on most porches backs up against the house, which is fine as an observation post or a place to read the paper, but it's not the best setup for socializing.

What was done here: When Bruce designed the front porch addition to his farmhouse, he made it a generous 12 feet deep, instead of the usual 8, to fit extra furniture. He also added electrical outlets for plugging in table lamps and recharging his laptop. To make the most of his space, Bruce planted boxwoods around the low-slung porch's three open sides, rather than ringing it with railings. This increased the usable floor space and allowed him to hang a vintage swing, which he faced toward the sofa that sits against the house. Streamlined furniture, such as an armless, weatherproof sofa, petite metal chairs, and painted wood tables—all found at yard sales or on eBay—expand the space even further.

More take-home tips: On a back deck or patio, create different furniture groupings based on the activities you want to have happen there. For instance, a large, all-weather table and chairs in the center can easily accommodate a family barbecue, while benches along the perimeter will encourage private party conversation.
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