Must-Have: A Comfy Porch

California designer Tim Clarke is the guru of stylish outdoor living. Here, he shares his secrets for decorating the ideal seaside perch.

California designer Tim Clarke is the guru of stylish outdoor living. Here, he shares his secrets for decorating the ideal seaside perch.Create "Rooms" with Rugs. "With no walls to delineate spaces, outdoor furniture needs to be grounded by what's underneath it. Rugs are a smart way to do this, or try varying the type or texture of material underfoot, like wood or stone."

Layer the Lighting. "Have multiple light sources, including an overhead option and something that provides the same cozy glow of indoor lamps. LED lamps are easily rechargeable, and you don't have to worry about dealing with wires or plugs outdoors."

Think Practically. "I'm all about function. Everyone should always have a place where they can set down their drink, whether that's a garden stool, a side table, or a tray that works for serving, too."

Soften the Space. "Outdoor fabrics have come a long way in terms of comfort, so don't be afraid to use them like you would indoors. Upholstered ottomans filled with quick-dry foam look great in place of a coffee table."

Display Sculptural Shells. "Shells are perfect for adding that beachy element. Use them in a way that makes them artistic, like placing one big, beautiful shell on a table."

Mix Up Materials. "I'm a huge fan of teak, and the way it weathers and ages, but I would never do an outdoor room that's exclusively one material. The juxtaposition of weathered wood with woven resin or something sleek and modern makes the space much more interesting."

Go Natural. "If you're on a covered porch with no trees around you, always include some greenery in the mix. I like to use a lot of smaller plants in sculptural pots so they add interest but don't block the views."

1. Thos. Baker Talbot Sand Armchair, from $445

2. Trina Turk Orange Garden Maze Throw Pillow, $140 (20″ by 20″)

3. West Elm Softest Throw (Ombre) in Sweet Potato, $49

4. Michael Berman for Brown Jordan Marin Sofa, $4,295 (as shown); brownjordan.com for retailers

5. LEE Industries Bermuda Outdoor Slipcovered Ottoman in Wendell Parchment, $1,120 (as shown); leeindustries.com for retailers

6. Jonathan Adler Lacquer Tray in Orange, $225 (22″ by 22″)

7. LOLOI Enzo Indoor/Outdoor Rug in Ivory/Blue, $739 (7′6″ by 9′6

8. Treillage Garden Stool in Orange, $324

9. Beach Grass Cottage Giant Pink Conch Shell, $25

Photo: Annie Schlechter

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