15 Idea-Filled Patios & Porches

Life on the coast means spending more time outside than in. Create the perfect hangout with ideas from these gorgeous spaces.

White couches in this open-air living room open up to amazing view of the ocean.

Photo by Claudio Santini

Focus on the View

The seascape steals the show in this indoor/outdoor space. When the transition is seamless, you can enjoy storm watching and stargazing from a box-seat perch.

• Skip the railing altogether (if building codes permit) so you can soak up maximum scenery.

• Consider white. Here, a pale palette makes the bright blue sea all the more brilliant.

• Install pocket doors to transform an interior room into an open-air retreat. First, though, check on site conditions such as wind direction, sea spray, and bugs.

Open deck sits right next to the sea with chairs facing the view

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Let the Light Shine

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard that looks like this, let it shine.

Place furniture where you can best revel in the setting―it doesn’t have to be next to the house. Broad umbrellas allow you to relax by the sea without melting in the heat.

Cream beach umbrellas surround teak furniture on an open patio next to the beach

Photo by Jerry Harpur

Stay Neutral

Keep colors and furnishings low-key so your gaze is drawn to the vista beyond your patio.

Plan perimeter walls and landscaping so they don't interfere with the scenery.

A piece of coral sits on top of a coffee table in this outdoor living room

Photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Turn the Inside Out

At the coast, transform your patio into a living room. That’s where the family is, anyway.

Include a mix of sofas and chairs with comfortable cushions and throw pillows. Top a coffee table with beach finds.

a purple wicker chair with color cushions is situated next to a courtard fountain built into white stucco

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Meet Your Needs

If you’re furnishing a small space such as a courtyard, a simple water feature and a favorite chair may be all you need.

Exterior furnishings aren’t just functional. If you soften your outside space, you’ll gravitate there. It becomes a quiet spot to take a nap, read, or work a jigsaw puzzle.

The dining room merges with the outside patio, for a party, when the glass garage wall is rolled up

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Double Your Fun

Maximize square footage by turning two small spaces into one big room.

• Make it easy. This dining room opens in a flash―a garage-style glass door rolls up to transform your intimate gathering into a seaside block party.

• Furnish the space with a crowd in mind. Here, two large dining tables accommodate plenty of food, drink, and friends. Guests can mingle easily and choose more or less shade.

In this tentlike wooden structure, fans and a chandelier hang above the dining room table

Photo by Tria Giovan

Allow Space for Easy Entertaining

If you create intimate nooks for friends to relax, your fresh-air space will become the ultimate summer hot spot.

• Dress up elegant gatherings with outdoor-fabric curtains and a rustic candle chandelier. Sisal and kilim rugs and a flea-market-find bamboo daybed complete this cabana.

• Think durable, not delicate. Consider cushion covers made of terry cloth―they’re both soft and washable.

• Build a pergola over a patio or terrace to create an outdoor room. Bamboo or native-wood poles provide enough shade for an all-day retreat.

In this sunroom, floor to ceiling windows pour light onto the wicker couches with green cushions.

Photo by Jean Allsopp

Be Prepared

Stock a buffet for parties. Keep glasses, napkins, plastic cups, melamine plates, and bottle openers on hand to make hosting effortless.

Party tip: Make sure you have enough small tables and consoles for setting up food and drink stations.

Sunny hues of warm yellow on this home's exterior is complimented with a cheerful apple green trim on its shutters

Photo by Sara Gray

Color It Coastal

Brightly colored porches make cheerful retreats even on overcast afternoons. Paint your porch ceiling a summery hue to add punch.

Bright green color makes a surprise appearence on this sun porch ceiling while its walls are kept stark white.

Photo by Jean Allsopp

Tie It Together

Paint furniture along with the space. Painting is pretty and practical―it protects wood pieces from moisture.

Add striped awnings that tie in with a hue on your porch ceiling or floor.

Dark-stained wooden shutters allow the flow of air from the outside patio into the airy living room.

Photo by Jean Allsopp

Let Nature Be Your Guide

All-wood design schemes ground outdoor living areas in the setting. Exotic hardwoods such as teak and mahogany naturally resist pests and stand up to harsh coastal climates.

Use louvered shutters to promote circulation and provide privacy. Shutters also serve as a decorative touch, imparting a Caribbean feel.

The entire family sits on chairs while relaxing and taking in the view on this porch that faces the ocean.

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Create A Family Hangout

• Keep your eye on the view. Steel-cable or clear-glass railing systems take a minimalist approach while still complying with safety codes.

• Sit on your porch to inspire a sense of community. Just try walking past this gathering without stopping to say hi.

Earth tones envelope this beach home's dining room that opens to a vast deck.

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Keep It Easy

• Add a splash of color, then change it up. Swap out cushions and throw pillows to complement seasonal landscapes.

• Use natural materials on floors for easy upkeep. Smart choices include travertine and granite.

Family and friends gather around lush couch cushions to take in a sunset.

Photo by Roger Davies

Face the View

Sunset’s calling. Arrange furniture so you’re always ready for a radiant show.

Take a break from life’s fast pace to reconnect with your family and the outdoors. Comfortable chairs and an ocean view can’t help but slow you down.

Children play in the protected shade of a covered beach porch.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Stay Cool

• Limit sun exposure. Decks are great for catching rays, but an awning, an arbor, or a nearby tree will shade windows and doors, lowering indoor temps.

• Locate porches on the north side of a house for a cool respite in hot climates.

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