If you delight in decorating your home for the season or the holidays, make sure you’re extending that festive feeling to the exterior, too. Specifically, your front porch. It’s the gateway to your home, after all.
"[Front porch decor] adds a homey touch,” says Whitney Johnson, the home editor for online retailer jane.com. “It's really welcoming, and shows people your personal style."
Here are some go-to tricks home decor experts use to jazz up their own porches during the transition from fall to the winter holidays.
Accessorize base pieces
Transitioning into a new season doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your whole porch design. You can make a fall look move seamlessly into winter.
One of the best ways to do this is to use staple pieces that you can accessorize. For example, one of Johnson’s favorite tricks is filling oversized iron lanterns with seasonal items like leaves in the fall and switching to colorful ornaments in the winter.
You can keep a simple olive branch wreath on the door all year, and dress it up with a seasonally appropriate ribbon. Fill planter boxes with gourds and pumpkins or corn, then replace them with pinecones and evergreen or holly in the winter.
If you don't have a large front porch, that doesn't mean you can't still make use of it. Chantal Lamers, the home editor for Sunset Magazine, suggests adding a rustic ladder where you can hang wreaths, garland, seasonal greeting signs, or string lights.
Similarly, a vertical wall garden is a trendy way to add greenery without taking up much floor space. Of course, simply using the sides of porch steps as decorative shelving is another option.
Pumpkins are a staple of fall decor, but you don't have to leave them in the dust after Halloween (unless you carved them).
Leave out variously shaped and colored gourds and pumpkins through November. Johnson recommends decorating in odd numbers for visual interest and asymmetry.
Another creative way to use a pumpkin is to create a planter out of it by hollowing it out and inserting a flower pot inside (mums are a popular flower for fall). You can also poke round holes all over the pumpkin to create a non-Halloween lantern. But keep in mind that the pumpkin will start to deteriorate once you cut into it.
White pumpkins are a natural way to get a winter look. For a more glamorous feel, spray-paint pumpkins and gourds a metallic color.
Fall and winter plants
Design experts agree that adding some greenery to your porch is a must. Container gardens are an easy way to go.
"For fall, I like incorporating flowers because it's the last chance," says Justin Hancock, a horticulturist at the American Society for Horticultural Science and former editor at Better Homes and Gardens.
Hancock’s go-to frost-tolerant plants include:
- Flowering kale. This hardy, showy cabbage can survive even into the 20-degree range. It looks like a flower and comes in a range of colors, including lavender, rose, white, yellow, and green.
- Croton. A low-maintenance fall favorite, it has dark green, orange, red, and yellow leaves that are thick and leathery, so they hold up well in drought conditions (read: they’re good for people who forget to water their plants).
- Ajuga. An herbaceous plant in the mint family that blooms tiny periwinkle flowers, it’s durable and great for containers.
- Pansies and violas. These delicate-looking flowers can survive temps as low as 30 degrees.
If you don't feel like dealing with live plants, Johnson says fake greenery is just fine. "I love artificial wreaths because I don't have to buy a new wreath every season, and no one knows the difference."
Some of the best design tools for fall and winter are totally free: tree branches and twigs - or "wintry scraps," as Lamers calls them.
In the fall, he adds branches to container gardens to add structure; in the winter, he jazzes up the look by tying on ribbons or spray-painting them, or adding evergreen branches.
Red twig dogwood is also a favorite for its purple/red color. "They provide color without having to spray paint, and the color looks really striking in snow," Hancock says.
Pine cones are another versatile found item. Hancock suggests baking them in the oven, which causes natural resins to leak out so they look glazed.
Birch logs also add a traditional holiday look.
Beyond using branches and other found items, there are plenty of other ways to shave some dollars and cents off your decorating scheme.
Choose a decorating theme first, Johnson says, so you're not buying "random things" you won't end up using.
Check flea markets and Etsy for cheaper versions of items you love in pricier stores, advises Lamers.
Put your creativity to work, and you can create charming and festive porch decor to take you all the way through to spring.