How To Design an Entry Patio or Porch

How To Design an Entry Patio or Porch

Originally Published on June 27, 2018. Last Updated on July 21, 2022.

Your entry patio or porch is the first thing guests see when they visit. To ensure your home’s first impression is always impressive, carefully consider your furniture and design elements.

If your outdoor entryway needs a pick-me-up, take a look through our step-by-step guide on how to design a front porch. These helpful tips and front porch ideas will boost your home’s curb appeal and welcome family and friends to stop by, kick back, and relax with you.

Step 1: Pick the Primary Function

How do you want your front entry porch to serve your family? There are so many possibilities—and you don’t have to choose just one. Having a rough idea of what you want out of your patio helps your design take shape and makes the rest of the process run smoothly.

To spark your creativity, here are a few inspiring ideas for entry patio or porch uses:

  • Cozy breakfast nook
  • Outdoor living room
  • Open-air office or study area
  • Private reading spot

Pick the Primary Function

Step 2: Decide on a Budget

Now that you know how you’ll use your front patio, it’s time to think about costs. Determining a budget will help you create realistic design goals and prevent overspending. To set your budget, follow these steps:
  1. Make a list – Take inventory of all the items you hope to add to your entryway, such as furniture, decor, lighting, building materials, plants, etc. Divide the list into two categories, with items you need in one and nice-to-have things that aren’t necessary in the other.
  2. Find out pricing – Do some research to determine the cost of all the items on your list. 
  3. Start prioritizing – Determining what needs to be done first helps decide what gets purchased first. If your patio floor needs to be redone before decorating, make that a priority. If you have no furniture yet, put that at the top of your list.
  4. Create wiggle room – Planning for unexpected costs now saves you a headache later. Build in a 10–15% cushion to be ready for any surprise expenses. 
  5. Organize a plan – Once your information is meticulously gathered, arrange it all in a spreadsheet or planner to keep track of your purchases and timelines.

Source: MHM Professional Staging

Decide on a Budget

Step 3: Assess Your Space

Knowing the size, surface type, and shape of your entry patio or porch helps determine what and how much you can fit in. The key here is finding that sweet spot. You want to maximize utility and fill the space without going overboard.

Measure Your Space

Grab the measuring tape, a pencil, and paper—it’s time to get physical. Head out to your entry patio and get the square footage of your floor, wall heights, length of overhead joists, etc. Write down the dimensions and keep the numbers handy when you’re shopping. 

Don’t skip this step. Otherwise, you may end up with a too-long area rug that dangles off the edges of your patio or a sofa that takes up the entirety of your porch.

Blog Post: How to Measure Your Outdoor Living Space

Find Perfect-fit Furniture

So you’ve measured your front porch and are now approaching the big decision—what kind of furniture you should purchase. Here are some viable options based on the shape of your space:

  • Deep – If you have a deep and spacious front patio, you have room to play. Go big with a generously sized deep seating set or a line of chaise lounges.
  • Narrow – Space-saving pieces are the solution when you have less depth or width to work with. Opt for a group of rocking chairs and coordinating side tables to span the length of your porch, or angle a few Adirondack chairs in ways that allow for the most legroom.
  • Expansive – If your entry patio is substantial, divide it into multiple relaxation areas. Style a brunch spot on one end with a round dining set and a coordinating wet bar. Turn the other side into a comfortable conversation area, filling it with Adirondack chair sets and umbrellas for shade.
  • Cozy – Less square footage doesn’t mean less style. Turn the area into a solo retreat with a single statement piece. Decorate around it with a matching ottoman and a multi-shelf side table (which gives you more decorating opportunities without taking up extra space).
  • Covered – A covered porch opens you to more furniture and decor options, like porch swings, hanging baskets, and light fixtures. Just make sure your porch roof is sturdy enough to support heavy pieces before you start shopping.
  • Walled – If you have a screened porch or walls around your outdoor living space, make sure to account for additional wiggle room. This keeps moving pieces like swings and rocking chairs from bumping into the barriers and allows guests to move freely around the patio.

Know Your Surfaces

Do you have a smooth concrete or an uneven stone floor? Are your walls brick or vinyl? The answers to these questions help narrow down your furniture and decor choices. 

For example, rocking chairs move best on flat surfaces, so you’re good to go if your porch floor is concrete or tile. Do you want to hang lights or metal signs on your patio-facing walls? Knowing the wall material helps determine the tools you need to properly secure your decor.

Step 4: Time to Decorate

While you’re building out your ideal entry patio or porch, keep these design tips in mind:
  • Gather inspiration and ideas – Inspiration hubs like Pinterest are great for visual references and ideas from both designers and your peers. Create your own board dedicated to your dream design and fill it with all the open-air possibilities you find. 
  • When in doubt, start with furniture – As the foundation and biggest investment you’ll make here, your outdoor furniture should consist of high-quality designs. Then you can accessorize with rugs, ottomans, cushions, pillows, and throws to transform a standard outdoor area into a cozy retreat that reflects your personal style. 
  • Establish a clear focal point – Ground your layout in a central piece, then let that inform all subsequent design decisions. This could be your front door, a sofa, coffee table, or even a small throw pillow. 
  • Add in splashes of color – If you choose neutral tones for your furniture, top them with bright cushions. Other items that add punches of color include rugs, blankets, potted plants, or a new paint color for your front door.
  • Build off the design of your house – Use the materials, colors, and architectural style of your house and interior design choices to make your patio or porch feel like a natural extension of your home.

Invest in storage space – Seek out table and seating options with built-in storage, so you can save space and stow away your less-durable items during inclement weather.

Time to Decorate

Blog Post: How to Mix and Match Fabric Patterns


How can I make my entrance beautiful?

Here are seven ways to make your front entrance beautiful:

  1. Give it a thorough cleaning.
  2. Choose decor that coordinates with your home’s architecture.
  3. Avoid overcrowding the space with furniture and fixtures.
  4. Set the mood with ambient lighting.
  5. Reenergize your space with a fresh coat of paint for your front door.
  6. Use outdoor-friendly mirrors to make the space look larger.
  7. Style planters filled with colorful, eye-catching flowers.

What is the difference between a porch and a patio?

The main difference is that porches are attached to homes and patios are not. Porches are sometimes covered, raised above ground level, and surrounded by railings. Patios are flat, often paved, uncovered areas that sit flush with the ground.

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