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My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

by | Aug 8, 2011 | Decorating Inspiration, Gardens & Outdoor Rooms

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My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Outdoor Room: A Retreat

Oh dear I’m behind on posting about this porch. It was such a simple makeover but I’ve had one trouble after another this summer trying to get this photographed. Weather, surgeries, you name it. Finally I just said to myself this weekend, you have GOT to take photos even if it is gray and dreary. And of course, it was gray and dreary. But, now you can imagine life here in the NW. Some beautiful days, some gray days. But at least we don’t really have 110 degree days. #grateful

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Every summer since I’ve lived in this house, I’ve tried to have a little place on my porch to retreat from the world.  Basically that involved simply having a small table and a couple of chairs.

I did use my porch last summer for drinking coffee or working at the table, but I knew if I was going to really be able to relax and escape from the world, it would need to be even more comfortable.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat


Here is how it was the first year I moved in (see above). Fine but not very comfortable or finished feeling.

So this was my summer to make a giant leap ahead on this covered front porch!

Thanks to help from Lowe’s, I’m well on my way to completing this space. It was pretty much going to be only a weekend project, I didn’t want anything complicated or time consuming for this summer. The only thing really left to do is to cover a few throw pillows and paint my front door. Those last items will be revealed soon! But for now, let’s see what I’ve been working on so far!

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Here are 7 tips I used in creating my outdoor room.

Tip One: Dream of Ambience.

Here is what I imagined before I started redoing my porch:

When I walked out my front door, I wanted to feel like I was at a resort at a far away lodge on a tropical island.

Stop laughing.

I know, I do have vivid dreams about ambience. Ha. That is tip number 1 for me. I need to create an escape in my mind.

So I imagined a lodge style tropical retreat since my house is a craftsman style, I wanted the style to enhance what I already had going on with the exterior features.

Tip Two: Make it Comfortable & Functional.

Enter my shopping trip to Lowe’s. I spotted some very comfortable outdoor chairs I knew would be PERFECT for the “tropical resort” feel I was going for. And can I tell you that they are EXACTLY what I had hoped they would be? They are a magnet for me nearly every day, and that means this porch gets used a lot! Even if I am only out there for a few moments, I seriously feel like I have had a mini-vacation! They are so comfortable and look great.

I found this set of nesting tables at Lowe’s as well. I love that I can pull them around the porch to use as a place for food and drink, a laptop or just a surface for accessories. Functional and cute!

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Tip Three: Lay the right foundation.

In order to create the effect of a true outdoor room, I knew I’d want a rug. But like I said, in the NW, with all the rain and occasional wind combined with the wonderful trees we have here, lots of things fall from the sky.  Little pieces of trees and plants are always on the ground.

I knew it was going to always look messy unless I found a stylish “debris concealing” rug. And Lowe’s had just the right one for me, it is so easy to clean too! This rug pulled the whole “room” together and grounded it so it feels cozy and comfortable.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Tip Four: Lighting makes the room beautiful, even at night.

Even though this is an outdoor room that I hoped to use a lot in the day time, I wanted to make sure it was also inviting at night. It is also the place where you first enter our home and we often have guests over in the evenings.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

I already had an awesome lantern hanging from the porch ceiling, but with the additions of a few candle lanterns and string lights the whole space is lit up at dusk with beautiful soft flickering light. I use battery operated candles in many of the lanterns to make it safe.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Tip Five: Plants bring life and serenity to the room.

I wanted to bring even more of the retreat feeling to my space through plants. A couple of palm trees brought a nice tropical ambience that I am LOVING. The fronds blowing in the breeze add so much to the feeling of this room! I also have ferns, a hydrangea, succulents, and a variety of small creeping type plants.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat


Tip Six: Texture gives the space character.

When I saw a river rock style planter at Lowe’s I knew I HAD TO HAVE IT. The texture it brings really transforms everything about this space, giving it a richer more spa like feeling I love. And the very textural hanging reed basket filled with ferns adds character like a window box! I also adore hydrangeas in a woven basket. Don’t you LOVE hydrangeas? I just think they are so beautiful.

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat


My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat

Tip Seven: Accessories make the room.

Last but not least, no room is complete without the accessories. A weather vane,  bird cage, a shabby mirror, an old fireplace log holder, a wooden crate filled with fun plants and miniature accessories, another container of succulents, rocks and shells, throw pillows … they all bring personality and conversation to this comfortable retreat.

Next up in this project, I have pretty and colorful fabric to SEW more throw PILLOWS for this porch and some for my back deck! More reveals to come, I created another little space outdoors I’m pretty tickled over so I’ll show you that this week too!

Thanks to Lowe’s for providing the following items for this room:

Chairs and nesting tables
Outdoor rug
Many of the lanterns
Outdoor pillow
Reed window basket
River Rock planter

Catch up on other posts in my Outdoor Project series this summer:
Weekend Project: Family Fire Pit
Weekend Project: Pallet Garden

UPDATE! See my 2014 updated front porch here (and below).

My Outdoor Porch: 7 Tips for Creating a Peaceful Retreat


  1. Annie

    I have been eyeing those very chairs and already have porch envy. Great job, love the succulents tray as well, very fun.

  2. Angela

    Thank you for all of the inspiration for my screened in porch I have yet to finish decorating. What are you using for pillow inserts in your outdoor pillows. I have fabric for my outdoor areas and have been wondering if I need something special for the inserts.

  3. Heather

    You’ve really created a beautiful spot, Melissa. I can just imagine sitting out there with a cool drink on a sunny afternoon and what a great place to take shelter from the rain.

  4. Comeca Jones

    Looks great! I especially like the wicker look basket! I am a texture girl as well.

  5. Diane

    It looks like a little bit of sunshine *is* peeking through in your photos!!

    Your porch is lovely and serene. And your little tabletop miniature garden… Did you create that for the porch too? I’ve always been smitten with those. Maybe that’s another whole post?

    Great job, Melissa!!!

    • Melissa

      Oh yes, I’ll have to talk about that in another post!!! I too was smitten and I just had to make one for myself!

  6. Carla

    Love the porch. Whenever I get everything unpacked inside we’re gonna work on our back porch. I hope it looks half as nice as yours.

    Thanks for sharing

  7. Franki Parde

    Your “retreat” looks like a real TREAT! Wondering…does anyone know where I can purchase “blue” (as in haint blue) laminate beadboard for a porch ceiling?? franki

  8. Franki Parde

    Your “retreat” looks like a real TREAT! Wondering…does anyone know where I can purchase “blue” (as in haint blue” laminate beadboard for a porch ceiling?? franki

  9. JoAnne

    Wonderful outdoor space Robin! It is so nice to have a little place to “escape” to from time to time. Now you have me thinking about our back patio and what I can do to it until we can do the real makeover. Thanks for all of the great tips!

  10. Shona

    Absolutely beautiful! A space that’s nice to be in even if it is gray outside! Thanks so much for sharing, you did a marvelous job!

  11. teresa

    Oh I just love your porch~
    First thing we do every morning is head to the porch with coffee…then the hummingbirds begin swooping and the steller jays want their peanuts! ;o)
    My two faves on your porch are the crate with rocks and plants and the twinkly lights that I know make the porch look so inviting at night.
    Hope your daughter is feeling much better this week.
    Doogan sends wags to Jack Boy!
    Hugs from Bainbridge Melissa!

  12. Nan

    I can never get enough of porch pictures. Yours are beautiful! I have been planning to make our porch/deck a little more cottage-y, comfortable, inviting. You have given me some great ideas. Thanks.

  13. Ace

    I’ll have to tell my mom to check out this post. She has an enclosed sun porch on her farm badly in need of some work and decorating. She did the imagination thing like you did, her idea is to make it remind her of the family’s nearby get-away, a cottage on the river. Your blog will probably help her get there.

    Love your blog!


  14. teresa

    The table top garden is fabulous….love what you are sharing.

  15. Marilyn

    Enjoyed this! Am finally (after yrs of talking about it) adding a screenroom. Didn’t know quite where to start, outfitting it. Great direction here!

  16. MarySue

    Thank you so much for these inspiring ideas! We have a deck off of our Master Bedroom, which I love, but it has so far been rather… uninviting. I want to create a ‘retreat’ feel in that space, and your tips and pics give me just the help I need to think through what it will take to make it what I hope for! Thanks!

  17. Deana

    Really beautiful. How much would the project have coated you?

  18. Beth

    I love it! I am right now trying to find some direction on my new back patio…..I need furniture and everything! Can you please tell me where you get the battery operated candles? I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate some lighting out there, and had thought about an outdoor lamp but I really like those lanterns! Anyway, love it all :)

  19. Shannon

    I like the decorating you have done on your porch. There are so many great features but I really like the rug. It gives the space a very cozy look.look forward to seeing more. Shannon

  20. Gina

    Can I come live on your porch? Promise to keep it clean (: Looks really beautiful and relaxing!

  21. Leslie

    Your retreat looks great! I don’t have a very nice porch but my neighbor does! When I used to baby sit for her, I used to just sit on the porch and read to her sons. It was SO great! I’m definitely looking out for a porch when I purchase my house!


  22. Pinky

    Your porch looks GREAT! We were just sitting out on our front porch too! I love having that space to sit as well as the back deck. LOve all of the accessories, especially that river rock planter!!!!!!!! GORGEOUS!!!! XO, Pinky

  23. Karen

    Very timely. I have committed myself to enjoying the final weeks of summer outdoors.
    Your outdoor room looks great. Love the accessories and comfortable cushions.

  24. Bernadette

    I would totally staycation on my porch if it were like this. Love my porch, but really need to help it come alive.

  25. susan

    Bee-yoo-tee-ous! Perfect. Very Melissa. :) love it! (and u) -s-

  26. Fairfield House


    What a wonderful retreat you’ve created. I can picture you sitting there with a glass of iced tea and your lap top working on your next post while your sweet daughter sits nearby (recovering) lost in a good book!

    Your Friend,

  27. Niki

    I love this space – I really wish I had a front porch big enough to accommodate that much! I’m saving this in my “New House” file!!

  28. Jessika

    Love, Love, LOVE!!! I have been drooling over the exact patio set from Lowes all summer!! We have recently added a new baby to our family therego have yet to add to the patios ambiance :) I keep saying “soon enough!” yet with our little ones, Parker and Ava, and my husband and myself working full time, I just haven’t quite scrounged up the time/effort/dollahs:)/patients/and on and on to get to it yet! Thanks for posting the gorgeous and extremely inspiational reminders that I need to get to this before the leaves fall. Which unfortunately, will be before you know it!

    Spokane, Wa

  29. Dena

    Thanks for the tips!! After reading this post, I gathered up some things from other places in the house/yard and made my own little front “porch” (my 5×8 rug hits corner to corner) a cozy wonderful coffee retreat! I love it and would never have thought I had the space for it! Thanks again!!! I’m always so inspired by your posts!! ~D.Dunn, McCleary, WA

  30. Julie Krawczyk

    THANK YOU! I got so inspired after seeing this… luckily on a Friday… that the next day I grabbed a friend and TWO carts at Home Depot and made over my new front porch! We just moved in in fall, and I had an outdoor couch & 2 chairs but that was it.

    Now every time I walk past it for the last 2 days I giggle aloud with GLEEEE!! Who knew a few pillows, a rug, and a few plants would make such a transformation! Thank you for letting a totally design-challenged girl crib from your work! ;)


    It’s still a work in progress, but it’s a start!


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