No porch, no problem—here's how to enhance your front stoop
It can be a sweet spot for neighborly conversation.
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For years before we were married, my husband and I rented a teeny-tiny third-floor apartment. While charming with its ocean views and slanted ceilings, there was one thing it didn’t have: a front porch. In fact, we had four steps and a segment of patio that we shared with our neighbors. It was small, but it was ours. And while it took some getting used to, eventually we were able to cultivate a perfect little space to relax and chat with neighbors and friends.
Those years on our little stoop made it clear we didn’t need a wrap-around porch in order to enjoy the outside of our home. There are plenty of ways to make the most out of the space you have and create your own outdoor oasis.
Plus, with summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start. Here are some tips to make the most out of your front stoop—without the trial and error.
Incorporate plants, big and small
No matter how small a stoop is, there’s a plant for that. Plants present a warm, welcoming atmosphere, but they can also provide lots of lush vibrancy and color depending on the type of variety and planters you choose. Go for tall, tropical plants like the majesty palm for areas you want to expand upwards, and small potted plants on each step.
Kim Peterson of KEP Interior Designs loves to see potted plants leading to an entryway. “Not only does it add life,” she says, “but the tiered effect gives the entrance some depth and dimension.”
Hanging plants like ferns also do well outside in the summer and create a cozy surrounding. The beautiful greenery will draw in neighbors and passers-by, and they'll act as conversation starters for like-minded folks with green thumbs.
Get creative with your doormat
Doormats don’t just have to say “Welcome” anymore. Add some fresh personality and individuality to your front stoop with a mat that shows your funny, stylish, or nerdy side. Best of all, you don’t have to pick just one. Swap them out by season, or just when you feel like it.
Having an interesting welcome mat will not only make your space more “you,” it’ll also give you the chance to play around with style and display a fun vibe to guests, family, and friends alike.
Be selective with your seating
When it comes to outdoor seating, finding a set that can accommodate a smaller space without overwhelming the area can be difficult if not impossible. That’s why—and I learned this one the hard way—it’s better and more affordable to stick to one-off pieces that can be used in a variety of ways.
For example, if Adirondack chairs are much too bulky for your stoop, opt instead for a singular rocking chair paired with a couple of eclectic poufs. This way, not only are you saving space, you’re creating a more curated look and feel as opposed to seeming pre-packaged and boring.
The right sconce could make all the difference in turning a small space into a tiny sanctuary. From pendant lights to curtain string lighting, the options are almost endless.
To narrow down your selection, think first about the space itself and what would best enhance instead of inhibit. For example, a large pendant light might be gorgeous in theory, but wouldn’t be conducive to an area with low overhead. Dimmable lights as well as solar-powered LED’s, candles, and lanterns are all great choices, and perfect for the changing seasons.
Choose colors wisely
Color can make or break any space, and the front stoop is no different. Consider painting cement or wooden stairs with a warm, neutral tone to keep things fresh and create a sense of expansion. Darker colors tend to tighten a space even further, giving the illusion that it’s smaller than it is.
Certainly use this opportunity to express yourself and your style, but don’t go overboard. Sticking with a consistent theme is key and will be easier in the long run to switch up as needed.
Consider drapes for visual interest
Contrary to popular belief, the addition of drapes to a space doesn’t actually make it look more confined. It can be the opposite, says Peterson. In fact, she explains, they actually “add a soft and serene atmosphere for relaxing and enjoying the outside, while having the luxury of inside.”
Use them to define the space, but add an element of movement and flow that can be both stylish and welcoming. Plus, depending on how much natural light you prefer at any given time, you’re able to customize that when selecting your curtains. Pick light-filtering curtains for a bit of shade when closed, or sheer for medium to full sun.
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