Published: August 26, 2019
There is a lot of valuable square footage between the curb and your front door. Don’t leave it behind once you’ve stepped inside. Landscape architect Denise Smith of E2 Homes and interior designer Robert Turner of CRT Studio share their insights for not only making the space in front of your house look warm and inviting, but also a place where you want to spend time. Says Smith, “When passersby see how much you are enjoying your porch or yard, they want some of that too.”
Create Focal Points If you don’t already have a porch, add a cantilevered overhang along with some hardscaping and new finishes in that area so that it looks and feels warmer, says Smith. Soften the space with air plants and greenery. Add architectural interest with recycled metal sculptures that rust as they age, giving a warm, homey feel. Turner suggests bringing in an interesting lantern or light fixture found at an estate sale or from your travels. “I call those sculptural moments,” he says. Smith adds, “You aren’t going to sit out there if it doesn’t feel good.”
Choose Furnishings Wisely “Most important is the longevity,” says Smith. “Is it going to stand up to Florida’s heat and humidity? Will it rust, show dirt or fade?” She recommends avoiding cushions. “They look great if you’re willing to move them, but then you’re less likely to use the furniture.” Look for materials that aren’t going to degrade, says Turner, who likes Brown Jordan’s outdoor furniture with colorful mesh strapping on sculptural anodized aluminum.
Create Allure “You have to give yourself a reason to go outside,” says Smith, “especially when it’s hot.” She accomplishes this by putting her raised gardens in the front yard, “which forces us to go outside and see people.” Other ideas include bird feeders (which can also add a pop of color) or even a putting green to give you something to do. “Add outdoor speakers for music,” she adds. “Kids love a hammock or a hanging chair.”
Light It Up Sitting on our lit porch looking out into the dark isn’t very inviting, says Smith. She and Turner agree that standard landscape lighting gives depth to a yard. “Light on an oak tree 25 feet from the porch makes it feel like you are in an outdoor room, not just sitting in the dark,” she says. Turner likes to use high-quality uplighting on a tree’s canopy to evoke an architectural detail, “as though on a ceiling, except it’s in your yard.”
Use Plants With Purpose Try to use plants that aren’t typical, says Smith, who suggests heading to a garden center such as Lukas Nursery that has a lot of interesting plant material. “Pick out a few things you love that are different, as a focal point.” Then keep it simple with mass plantings accented by your unique selections. “It’s all about scale and proportion,” says Turner. “When you see someone’s yard with lots of little things, it all becomes like glitter. But when you see a property with a few beautiful specimen plants and the right lighting, it’s gorgeous.”