Outdoor Spaces / Styling the Home

9 Essentials for a Stylish, Cozy Porch or Patio

Along with the 9 essentials for creating the perfectly styled and cozy porch, I thought it would be interesting and hopefully inspirational to look back at our screened porch thought the years. I also include a looks and tips from our new patio.

I originally wrote this blog post during our last spring and summer at #theTrailHouseReno. We made the most of the time there and hope you enjoy this look back at the evolution of this space and our new patio at #theLakeRidgeHouse.

Of course, if you don’t have a screened porch these essentials would work great for a sunroom or a covered patio, like we have now.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that the last version of the screened porch happened to be my favorite. To illustrate the 9 tips I used photos from several years of reiterations of this porch and our current patio.

The significant change for this look was a new outdoor rug. The bold pattern makes a statement while being super soft under the foot. Now that I’ve had this same rug for almost two years and even on our current patio, I can say it’s built to last.

Here is how it looks on our current patio.


Most of the items you see on our porch are no longer available or vintage. I’ve rounded up a few similarities or what I’d purchase today! Each image is a clickable affiliate link. At no cost to you, I receive a small commission for purchases at these sites.

The 9 essentials for a relaxing, stylish porch or patio.

  1. Plenty of comfy seating.
Year 2

It might seem obvious, but cozy seating is the most important element for a outdoor living room. Creating a place where you can be as comfortable outdoors as you would be indoors is the ultimate goal.

This was the most coveted spot on the porch! The chairs are very pleasant to sit in but the daybed is the best place to stretch out with a book or snuggle into with someone furry or not.

When we moved, we realized we wanted to maximize our comfy seating by having two outdoor sofas, one across from the other. We also moved in the two chairs that were once on the stone patio in the backyard of #theTrailHouse.

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The new deep benches are the exact scale and size as the old one. They just updated the style of the arms and the color. I also like that they now come with back cushions to match.

2. Pile on the Pillows

Just because it’s outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t have all the pillows to sink into.

Screen porch
Year 1
Year 2, Fall

If your outdoor space is completely covered, don’t be afraid to use pillows made from traditional cotton fabric. The back three cushions are just pillows I found in the right color palette. I treated them with Thompson’s Water Seal for fabric. It helps repel water and is especially good at reducing the absorption of humidity in the air. I had one pillow that wasn’t treated last year and I could always tell which one it was.

I washed all the pillows at the start of spring so I treated them again with the Water Seal.

3. Rugs- Something soft underfoot to ground a grouping of furniture.

Like I mentioned earlier this rug is a vast improvement in softness from the previous outdoor rugs we have had.

Year 2

Don’t be afraid to layer rugs too. I wanted to add this bold stripe when we first moved into this house, but I knew it was not big enough for this porch. The sisal-look rug grounds the smaller rug and makes it work.


4. Tables, Gardening stools and ottomans, oh my!

On a warm summer day or when it is time to unwind in the evening, you will need a place to set a cool beverage or a snack.

Look for a variety of textures and patterns to enliven the space. This new rattan side table perfectly illustrates that point. Combined with a large table in the center of your grouping, make sure there is a surface near every seat.

Not pictured is a bamboo stool I picked up at a garage sale. I added it to the mix last year, but I am still on the hunt for the perfect cushion to go on top! Maybe next year I’ll add one of these outdoor poofs too. They make a perfect accompaniment to the deep bench, especially if you are sharing the spot with your sweetheart.

Now that we only have a covered patio instead of a porch and patio, we moved our fire pit onto the patio. We use it as a table mostly. I just added a round piece of plywood to place on top of the fire stones and painted it black.

5. Use plants to create a tropical oasis.

For years I have used palms in the large DIY planters. I love these because they have a built in shelf that lifts the plant higher making it seem much more grand, creating a canopy of palms overhead. Here is a link to build your own for less than $20 a piece!!

Year 1

Once you have the corners anchored with taller plants, add in a variety of small to medium-sized tropical plants. Be mindful of how much light each plant needs and move them in closer to the house if they are more delicate and need indirect light.

Year 1

I think hanging plants are essential for every screen porch. My top hanging plant picks are a spider plant like the one above. They don’t shed and need only regular watering while I have found the other plants require more frequent watering in the heat of Alabama.

Year 2

The previous year, I had purchased Boston ferns and they did not fare as well. I was able to keep them alive but they needed to be watered much more often and eventually they began to shed. Not at all desirable if your goal is to create a low maintenance, always ready, outdoor retreat.

My most recent hanging plant to try was the Kangaroo fern, which was found at my local Wal-Mart. I have found them to be very heat tolerant and easy to care for. They are so hardy in fact the kangaroo ferns you see on the patio now are these same exact ferns from our porch 2 years ago. I’ve brought them inside each winter and they have survived. Instead of hanging, I have them on metal plant stands.

6. Bistro sets and Bar carts

If your space allows, add a bar cart for corralling all of your entertaining beverages and needs.

Porch barcart
Year 1

We also had room for a small bistro set in front of the table on our porch and it was the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the morning with a light breakfast.

Year 1

I loved this little set of vintage metal chairs I found at a local thrift store. I paired it with a simple table and of course loaded the corner with plenty of plants.

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7. Light it up the nights!

Make the space even more cozy for the cooler evenings by stringing up bistro lights.

Year 1

If you have an overhead light, try adding a dimmer to give you a bit more ambiance.

Even though I had a screened porch I would light a few citronella candles. Our screened porch was not screened on the floor so the occasional bug would fly up through the cracks.

On our patio, we have started using a Thermacell instead of candles, unless we just wanted the mood. My best friend from Louisiana recommended them to me. She has had great success during her evening get-togethers.

You simply rotate the base and it starts working. The scent is very similar to a citronella candle and it quite pleasant.

I decided to store it in a metal hurricane just so it kind of disappears until I need it.

I use a variety of lanterns to hold my candles. They also add another layer of practical decor and are available in so many styles. You are sure to find one that suits you.

8. Privacy

Our porch at #thetrailhouse was up high and is surrounded by lots of mature trees. But many years ago, when we lived in Missouri, we had a patio covered only by a pergola and open to the neighborhood. I added drop cloth curtains suspended from aluminum piping. Whenever we wanted to enjoy the patio for an extended period of time we would draw the curtains. They also helped block the glare from the setting sun.

In hindsight, if I had painted the aluminum no one would have known I used inexpensive materials and would have looked a bit more polished.

Like I mentioned, at our current house, we will no longer have a screened porch. I plan to add curtains this year just for light control when the sun is the most intense. I’ll revisit my aluminum pipe as rods and I’m positive I will give them a coat of paint to match the trim of the house this time.

9. Make the space pet friendly too!

You may have noticed in the first two years of the screened porch, there was an addition of a throw rug on the deep seated bench.

Our sweet Golden Doodle, Tucker claimed this as his most favorite spot through every season. Because he had full range of the backyard and regularly came up and plopped himself in this spot, I added this small throw rug to keep the cushion cleaner. (The actual cover is completely removable and washable but it is much easier to throw a small rug into the wash than to take apart the bench and pillows.)

In this photo, Freddie, an Irish Doodle, was still our new little man. He was just learning the joys of our cozy outdoor sofas. It’s probably time for me to set out a rug for his chosen sofa. He is equally fond of finding the coziest spot. I think Tucker would be proud of the little fella on that account.

Now that he is all grown up, he is still enjoying the good life on the patio.

A space like this is meant to be shared, even if it’s just with our furry companions.

I hope these tips were inspirational and will help you create the perfect outdoor living areas for your home. Now, more than ever we fully comprehend the value of our home both inside and out.


  • Dian Owens
    May 4, 2019 at 12:17 am

    Leslie, I think your lovely screen porch was how I found your blog 3 years ago! In April 2016, I downsized to a 2 BR/2 BA cottage with a 22×14 covered concrete slab that screamed “screen porch” to me! My nephew helped me frame the porch and I screened it myself. I have the same World Market daybed as you and two of the matching benches. I bought indoor/outdoor fabric and made removal covers that work like fitted sheets for all three pieces. They were super easy to make, and the paw prints wash right out. The porch is large enough to have a seating area at each end and a narrow farmhouse dining table in the middle. The porch quickly became the favorite “room” of the house and is used year round. I continue to look forward to following your design quest, and sense you are at peace with the downsizing decision. Isn’t it amazing how much easier life is when we turn our concerns over to God and wait for His guidance? Not our will, but His!

  • Bill Deck
    October 9, 2019 at 7:08 am

    I love these ideas. When building the screened porches in Maryland that we do, I always love to see customer’s furniture ideas. I’ll share some of these with them.

  • Kelly Moore Spencer
    January 21, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Where are these chairs from? I love them! Your space is beautiful!

  • HemithTiles
    May 2, 2021 at 12:54 am

    Very good work, Great collection and very creative ideas.


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