Create a comfy porch this summer

Jessica Young

On a lazy Sunday morning, there’s nothing better than sipping a cup of coffee and reading the paper out on the front porch. And when summer thunderstorms roll in, there’s a perfect spot on the wicker chair to curl up with a novel and watch the rain pelting the leaves of the maple tree in your yard.

To bring comfort and charm to your outdoor shelter, check out Janet and Larry Jarvis’ Wheaton, Ill., haven, designed by Sarah Anderson of Sarah Anderson Interiors of Wheaton.

Rail wall

This elegant exterior appointment reflects the Southern plantation style of the home. The rail pattern incorporates a British flag, echoing the look of a Caribbean colony, and is carried on in other architectural components.

“We used larger pieces of wood so it would be sturdier and meatier looking,” said Anderson, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “And we painted it white, which has symbolism of peace and honesty back in the day.”

Re-create the look: “I think tackling something like this is very doable for your average homeowner. It’s not hard to do if you get a good carpenter,” she said. “And it’s this kind of detail that adds a sense of personal character and sets you apart from the neighbors.”

Shutters

The customized porch accessories are kiln-dried cedar representations of historical shutters rather than cookie-cutter fiberglass ones seen on many homes. They were painted on-site to match the trim and front door. Anderson also added Bahama shutters, which open vertically, on the dormer windows to help filter some of the bright sun that pours into the eastern-exposed facade.

“You frame a window like you would a picture or a piece of art,” Anderson said. “It’s another excuse to integrate color into the exterior of the home, and it furthers the British colonial style we were aspiring to achieve.”

She also recommends giving some thought to shutter hardware — which she likens to jewelry — such as hinges, pintles, slide bolts, locks, tie backs, hold backs and shutter dogs to add the finishing touches.

Re-create the look: Try Headhouse Square Custom Shutters for an array of all types of shutters, hardware and paint matching. Call (888) 631-8191 or visit www.HeadhouseSquareShutters.com to request an estimate.

Beadboard ceiling

The Jarvises replaced the typical aluminum roof overhang with panels of corrugated beadboard. The design choice gives the space a cottagy feel, Anderson said. The sheets were lined up side-by-side, caulked and painted a light blue.

“There are historical and pragmatic reasons for the ceiling color, which is known as Haint blue in Charleston, S.C.,” Anderson said. “The African Gullah culture in the Caribbean and in the U.S. during the time of slavery believed the light aqua hue kept their home safe from harm’s way. But for coastal homes, the blue is used because supposedly mosquitos fly upward, thinking it’s the sky, and bees and hornets won’t nest.”

In the present day, Haint blue has other attractive perks.

“It appeals to the eye during the long winter months and helps extend dusk hours and early morning because of the light refraction. So it works to lift your mood,” Anderson said. “Architecturally speaking, the color also contrasts with the crown moldings.”

Re-create the look: Home Depot sells 4-by-8-foot panels of grooved plybead for $17.95 per sheet and wainscoting for $17.95 per sheet. There also are several options at EliteTrimWorks.com, a buy-direct Web site, with flat-rate shipping.

Light fixtures

Anderson used Carolina Lanterns, a South Carolina lamp company that specializes in reproducing original Charleston electric lanterns, to complete the Southern verandah vibe. The business offers historically accurate, hand-made copper options modeled after fixtures dating back 150 or more years. The line has gas and electric lamps available in a variety of finishes.

Re-create the look: Visit www.CarolinaLanterns.com to browse the company’s online catalog or play with the custom lantern creator. Call (877) 881-4173 for pricing information.

For other unique looks, peruse ShopOutdoorLighting.com, which has country cottage, rustic lodge, traditional and contemporary post lights as well as hanging and street lanterns ranging from about $30 to $2,000.

Furniture and greenery

When she was remodeling the space, Anderson used the Jarvises’ favorite swing to anchor the end of the porch. She rehung the love seat after stripping it and repainting it Benjamin Moore’s Deep River, a shade of dark blackish green, to match the front door. Two green high-backed wicker rockers and a small table and planter create a nice vignette set off by potted topiary trees and a large flower vase.

“The Jarvises are a delightful, laid-back family, and they really wanted to be able to enjoy their porch in the evening,” Anderson said. “We wanted to create that kind of lounge-around environment for them with casual elegance.”

Re-create the look: GotWicker.com has a huge selection of outdoor wicker furniture from vineyard collections to metropolitan looks to complement any outdoor living space.

As for cushions, Anderson suggests choosing foam over down to avoid mildew problems. And several textile giants have come up with outdoor fabrics with a softer touch than the typical canvas, so keep an eye out for Robert Allen and Sunbrella.