Learn how to transform your front porch space into a welcoming new patio
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In days gone by, porches were very social places where families and friends gathered to either solve the problems of the world or to watch the world go by. But in most new subdivisions, you rarely see a lavish front-porch space. Even if the area is limited, however, there is a tremendous amount of patio potential by simply paying attention to detail, color and texture.
After careful consideration and a lot of attention to detail, Designer Michael Glassman creates this inviting new patio (Figure A).
Glassman starts by brightening the space with color. Concrete stain is an inexpensive way to make an immediate impact. The homeowner creates a diamond pattern with tape along the walkway and stains the concrete. She removes the tape to reveal the new pattern (Figure C).
However, she learns a valuable lesson: tape does not adhere well to a damp surface, so she paints over the walkway with the stain for a solid terra-cotta finish (Figure D).
After the stain dries, she covers the walkway with a drop cloth to protect the color while painting the door. Don't be afraid to use bright colors. The yellow door creates a focal point, while the rust color of the doorframe creates cohesiveness.
To pull it all together, Glassman adds a few accessories. "I wanted to put some pots on the porch so flowering plants could add some color, but unfortunately this porch is just too small. So, if I can't go down, I'm going to go up." Glassman drills holes in the exterior wall to mount wrought iron planters (Figure E).
The rustic planters look great with the color scheme. For the finishing touch, bright red cyclamen creates even more color, and already the porch visually changes (Figure F).
Just because the concrete stops at the sidewalk doesn't mean the porch has to. There's an awful lot of wasted space here. Glassman uses the fence as an integral part of the porch. "You know there's no rule that says a porch has to be covered," he says. "This area beyond the sidewalk is of little use right now, but by thinking outside the box, we can give it purpose and charm."
Again, pay attention to the details, especially in small spaces. Why look at the backside of a fence, when adding a few extra fence boards is inexpensive and pleasing to the eye? Capping the fence is easy, too. Just nail a painted 1x4 to the top (Figure G).
A wall-mounted fountain will be added to the fence. Even small fountains can be heavy, so he reinforces the fence using 2x4 wedged between the two fences (Figure H)."I love using water in the landscape," he explains. "The addition of a small fountain to a porch brings everything to life and makes a whole new environment."
A trellis frames the fountain beautifully, but in a landscape, the real pizzazz comes from the plants. When choosing plants, you want to consider the growing requirements.
"Beyond that, I like to choose plants with interesting scents like rosemary or color like carpet roses, or texture like asparagus ferns or this incredible cotoneaster" ((Figure I), says Glassman. "I position the plants before planting to create the most interest possible." Once the plants look just right, into the ground they go.
Using a concrete stain that matches the patio, he creates stepping stones to extend the look of the patio (Figure J).
Since there will be a bench placed on top of the stepping stones, the stones need to be recessed into the ground and level. Be sure to take extra steps to ensure that each stone is level (figure L).