Choosing just the right decor for decorating your front porch or sunroom requires a combination of two things: Style and functionality…
Pillows, upholstery, slipcovers, shades and blinds, lighting, flooring, and rugs all make a sunroom or a porch lush and comfortable. What you can use depends on how rigorous the weather is on the furnishings. In a relatively moisture-free hot climate, for instance, sun resistance is the quality you want to look for, but mildew resistance is not essential. In other areas, both sun and moisture (caused by dew at night) can damage the goods. Select products specifically resistant to mold and mildew and ultraviolet rays. Choices abound for products that work well in a protected outdoor environment. Here’s some guidance on which are suitable for the outdoors.
Shades and Blinds: Simple matchstick or rattan rollups can protect furnishings from some rain and sun. Other treatments might include fabulous see-through screens and blinds that block ultraviolet rays while allowing breezes to waft through the space. Shower curtains or simply made fabric curtains are decorative solutions that add privacy as well as beauty. (Bed sheets are an inexpensive alternative to fabric.) Remember, however, if the fabric isn’t sun resistant, the curtains will fade over time.
Flooring and Rugs: Tile, slate, concrete, and weatherproof painted wood are floor choices that require minimal care. Soften the look and the feeling underfoot with natural-fiber rugs, such as sisal or hemp, which by nature resist moisture damage; this type of floor covering works best in sheltered outdoor spaces. Another possibility is indoor-outdoor carpeting, which can be left outside all year long.
Fabrics: Cushions and pillows with fillings that allow water to drain through them take very little care. Add to this a wide range of new fabrics–acrylics, woven vinyl-coated polyester, laminated cotton that feels like uncoated fabric–and almost anything is possible. Look for these fabrics at tent, awning, or fabric stores, as well as the porch and patio sections of department stores and pool-supply stores. Don’t overlook clear plastic to protect some fabrics, and go ahead and use conventional fabrics that catch your fancy if the area is protected. Store pillows when the weather turns foul. Fabrics treated for stain resistance are more expensive but wear better.
Lighting: Outdoor ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), built-in lighting, and fans make all the difference for nighttime use of porches and sunrooms. Avoid conventional indoor lighting unless your space is attached to the house. And be kind to your neighbors: be sure lighting does not encroach on their space. (The same goes for any noise you create, such as from a television, radio, or stereo system.) Don’t over-light, but do provide adequate transitional lighting from inside to outside, allowing eyes to adjust.