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  • Dana Tutela

Cozy Porch Ideas

Updated: May 20

Summertime in South Carolina means hanging out on the porch! Let's make yours cozy and inviting with these tips and ideas. You'll be lounging on the verandah sipping sweet tea curled up with a Dorothy Benton Frank novel in no time!

Charleston verandah
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What makes a porch so appealing? Is it the entertaining space?  Is it the outdoor connection with nature? Or is it simply a quiet retreat from the hectic daily activities inside the house? Yes, yes and yes! Let's address all three of these aspects from the floor up to the ceiling to make your porch a favorite spot for everyone.

dog on sofa on porch

Paint the Porch Floor

Not everyone will agree with me on this, but a painted porch floor is a game changer. It's so much easier to keep clean than an unfinished or stained wood floor. When our children were little, they would spend hours playing on the screen porch with friends. They spilled snacks and juice boxes. They tracked sand and dirt everywhere. A quick once over with a wet mop and all looked fresh and clean again.

painted porch floor

I like Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor Enamel in a satin finish. The color pictured above is SW Khaki Shade. Keep in mind that it can be slippery when wet, so be careful and follow my next tip!

Add an Outdoor Area Rug

Outdoor area rugs add a layer of coziness to a porch and feel good underfoot. I find that polypropylene fiber rugs hold up well against the elements. In fact, the one on our screen porch (see below) has been pressure washed more than once and is still looking wonderful!

cozy screen porch

Create a Conversational Seating Area

Add comfortable seating areas for relaxing and entertaining guests. Depending on your space available, look for flexible arrangements that can accommodate people who want to sit together and those who prefer single seating. The classic L-shaped sofa (pictured above) combined with individual chairs and ottomans works well. My neighbor in Charleston had a U-shaped configuration like the one below. It was fantastic for entertaining and stretching out for a nice cat nap once everyone was gone!

cozy screen porch with wood ceiling

Another popular seating option is the porch swing. Some of my fondest memories of our porch in Charleston include quietly swaying in the porch swing with a baby asleep on my shoulder. Of all the cozy porch ideas, the swing might be one of my favorites.

Pepper loves my mother-in-law's!

dog on cozy porch swing

Include a Dining Area

Who doesn't love to dine al fresco? Regardless of the size of your porch, making room for a dining area on the porch is essential. It might be an intimate bistro table for two tucked in the corner. This one on my mother's side porch is perfect for a cup of coffee in the morning while the sun comes up.

teak bistro table set

On the other hand, extendable tables can accommodate larger groups if you have the space. We have been extremely happy with our new full sized dining set. When the ends are pulled apart, the center panel flips over to extend the length from 6 to 8 people. The metal cleans up easily and holds up very well against the elements.

porch table set for dining

A beverage cart on the porch is attractive and perfect for cocktail hour. It can also be used for kids' snacks and juice boxes, storing porch games and linens.

grey beverage cart on porch

Accessorize the Porch

What is this beautiful porch missing? Pretty much everything! Time to accessorize.

porch with two chairs and swing


Add decorative pillows to make seating more comfortable and to accentuate a particular color scheme.

Lay a small blanket over the back of a chair for warmth and texture.

Hang sheer curtains or woven outdoor shades to provide privacy and sun protection.


Lanterns of various sizes and materials are on trend right now. Use battery operated candles on a timer for added ambience.

lanterns on porch

Patio string lights are less severe than direct overhead lighting and also add coziness.

*Ginger Tip: Get creative with a thrift shop lamp and a can of spray paint by turning it into something new and functioning. Cut the cord off a lamp or wall sconce and use a rechargeable lightbulb to illuminate a space without electricity. No dangling cords also means no tripping hazards!

Read my DIY Cordless Lamp Tutorial for details.


Wind chimes can bring delicate peaceful sounds to your restful porch.

Include a wireless speaker on your porch for background music while entertaining. This tiny Sonos Roam speaker is perfect for the porch because it's waterproof and delivers incredible sound.

An outdoor fan might seem strange to include in the sound section, but picture yourself on a warm summer afternoon resting on the loveseat. The drone of a fan is whirring in the background with its breeze gently passing over you. I think I just dozed off while writing this...but you catch my drift? Bonus: it will help blow away the no-see-ums and skeeters!

Container Plants

Finally, my favorite accessory to a relaxing southern porch is the plants! Up until now, we've focused on making a porch feel like an extension of the house. Now let's connect it to the outside and all that nature has to offer. Container plants help blend the hard structure to the soft greenery and wildlife outside.

ferns on porch

Experiment with moving some house plants onto the porch during the warmer seasons.

cozy screen porch

Plants for Full Sun Porches

Fill containers with sun loving annuals like lantana, geraniums, petunias, fan flower, and verbena. Their vividly colored flowers will brighten up the porch and accentuate decorative throw pillows.

potted flowers petunias

Plants for Shade Porches

Boston Ferns and Kimberly Queen Ferns are a classic southern porch staple. They're easy to maintain and last a long time in a container. Easy to grow Caladiums and begonias love a shady porch spot as well.

potted caladiums and begonias

potted ferns

For more container plant ideas and free designs, read:

pink flowers in container

Read Lake House Remodel: Part 1 to see how we remodeled our screen porch at the lake house.

old brown porch with green furniture

white porch with wicker furniture

I hope these suggestions inspire you to decorate your porch from the ground up with creative and comfortable ideas. Now go grab a book and a glass of lemonade to enjoy while curled up on your cozy porch!

before an after lake house picture

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