Give Your Porch A Modern Makeover With A Vintage Vibe

This May, Sarah Hayes of Sarah Hayes Design orchestrated a porch makeover for a virtual Chevy Chase Historical Society fundraiser as a charitable donation. Her “client” was a volunteer homeowner whose back porch was temporarily transformed for the event, and then disassembled. Sarah incorporated a 1920s theme using a vintage Schumacher fabric, Magnolias in Citron & Peacock designed by Paul Poirret, with her twin daughters sewing the curtain panels. The lawn games, including croquet, as well as the Southside gin drink added to the throwback theme. Serena & Lily in Bethesda, Maryland provided furnishings from its outdoor showroom and Sarah purchased and provided all of the accessories, mostly from Pottery Barn.

Take a look at Sarah’s expert tips on how to apply this theme to your own porch or outdoor space:

  • Place lanterns and candles around your porch to welcome guests with candlelight in the evenings.
  • Add texture with throw blankets draped on furniture; they’re perfect for bundling up on cool evenings.
  • Use accent pillows on furniture for added color and comfort.
  • Arrange furniture just as you would indoors to create a comfortable and conversational seating area, with plenty of accessories.
  • Create a seamless connection from indoors to outdoors. The use of upholstered furniture and accessories makes the exterior feel very much like a cozy outdoor room.
  • Use indoor-outdoor fabrics, such as the Serena & Lily fabrics on the main upholstered pieces used for this porch. They add durability and resist fading from the sun. Perennials and Sunbrella are great sources for these types of fabrics, too.

  • Be sure to include table surfaces for setting down drinks. Layer them with fresh flowers, candles and accessories to make your space feel more personal. In this project, I included a vintage brass tortoise box sourced through a local retailer.
  • Add as much seating as possible. Garden stools can be used as additional seating when needed and also make a wonderful side table on a porch as they can be easily moved around.
  • Consider ways to add privacy. If your porch design allows for a lattice screen, you can grow clematis, Ivy, or other climbing vines up the lattice and you’ll get some wonderful greenery along with privacy.

  • Create custom curtain panels, such as we did on this project. The panels help filter light and create privacy. Bonus – We layered curtains over lattice for additional texture.
  • Change with the seasons. Outdoor spaces should change with the seasons. Upholstering your main furnishings in a neutral and then switching out pillows and accessories throughout the year is a great way to keep up with the change of seasons. These custom curtain panels and accent pillows used in the porch shown could easily be switched out with fun tartans or other more wintry fabrics.
  • Break up your textures and remember to include both hard, soft and woven surfaces.
  • Add a bar cart, which is always perfect for entertaining, both indoors and out!

For more outdoor design and porch makeover inspiration, be sure to check out these enviable garden spaces.

Photography by Kelsey Glading.

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