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Valorie Hart

A porch is more than a mere entrance zone for your house: it provides protection for windows and facades, helps cool your interior, and can make a positive first impression. A porch that is roomy enough can be an outdoor living space for relaxing and entertaining and add to the value of your home.

For those looking to punch up their porch game with the arrival of spring, designer Valorie Hart, who has styled and written numerous features on outdoor spaces (as well as interiors), suggests starting with a good top-to-bottom cleaning, which includes sweeping and washing floors, walls and ceilings using a garden house or gentle power washer with a bleach-based product. If in need of a paint job, she advises letting everything dry for 24 hours, then using a tried and true exterior and porch floor plaint — preferably an oil-based paint because they repel moisture and last longer. “Stick to classic colors that wear well,” she said. “You can always change up furnishings if you need a refresh down the road.” 

Furnishing a porch, according to Hart, depends on how you use the space: a back porch that is close to the kitchen, yard or pool may make a good outdoor dining room, while a screened side porch could be a cozy sleeping porch. She takes stock of furnishings the client has on hand, what needs to be replaced or updated, colors favored, lighting needs and budget. Among the many things she likes in today’s marketplace for indoor-outdoor use are weather resistant fabrics, rugs and furniture made from recycled plastic bottles; stone and terracotta planters, ceramic garden stools, classic wicker, rattan, which has made a comeback, and outdoor curtains for filtering light. Stone top tables, farmhouse tables, long benches and bistro chairs are favorite picks for dining spaces; lanterns for a pretty look and a string of lights for a touch of fun.

Since a front porch is one of the first things you see about a house, Hart offers these simple and doable ideas to set the scene: keep it clean, use classic elements like potted plants, invest in a cute welcome mat, update the porch light fixture, and/or add good-looking house numbers. A porch is an extension of your interior, she says, and the first things you see might be what you remember most.



About the Designer

Valorie Hart is a designer, stylist, and author of a best-selling design book “House Proud: Unique Home Design Louisiana” (photos by Sara Essex Bradley).  She lives on The Gulf Coast and continues working in the metropolitan New Orleans area. She is currently working on her second design book, “Bohemian Soul” (photos by Sara Essex Bradley).



1. For long porches that run the length of the house, divide them into seating areas defined by area rugs.

2. Avoid matched sets of outdoor furniture. 

3. Tables, pillows, a drinks cart, vintage or weathered pieces with a patina add a personal touch.

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