The weather’s warming up, the sky's the perfect shade of summery blue, and the clock’s ticking to get your home projects underway. There’s no better time of year than the spring and summer months to get after your (likely long) list of home upgrades and refreshes. After the spring cleaning wraps up, a lot of up-close-and-personal time with every corner of your home is the inspiration everyone needs to make a few changes.
The first to-do on my list? With dreams of summer entertaining top of mind, I’m all about ensuring my front porch is ready for friends and family to stop by. And if you’re at your wit's end in your search for small front porch ideas on a budget, don’t worry—I have the tips, tricks, and plenty of inspiration to help you design the space of your dreams.
When faced with the dual challenge of designing a porch that’s high on style while you’re low on space and budget, there’s little option left but to get creative. (And, of course, have fun in the process!) For budget-friendly ideas that’ll let you love your front porch all throughout the season of cookouts, barbeques, and late nights spent in the company of those you love, I reached out to experts ready with the answers.
Decorist designer, Elise Payne and Cameron Johnson, CEO & founder of the Texas-based furniture rental service and interior design firm, Nickson Living share how they approach a small space with a limited budget. Grab a pen and paper and prepare to be inspired. Let’s jump in.
Consider the Scent
When it comes to designing any space, oftentimes, the majority of your focus, time, and effort goes to visual appearances alone. And while what draws the eye certainly deserves its place in the spotlight, incorporating other elements that contribute to the overall impact and appearance of a room can do wonders. Case in point, the scent and fragrances you prioritize and layer into a space.
Payne loves incorporating clusters of planters into her porch design, noting that she typically opts for a grouping of three, all in different sizes. Fill them with the greenery of your choice—that way, not only are you catering to the visual quality of your small front porch, but you also have your bases covered when it comes to weaving in a pleasing, satisfying scent.
Soothe With Sound
Another way to engage all the senses in your small, budget-friendly porch design? Don’t skimp over the importance of sound. Set out one or two bird feeders that’ll bring a few fledgling friends to your front porch or curate a quiet and calming space that lets you take in the soft hum of slow traffic or the chatter of people walking by.
If you really want to up the calming qualities of your front porch, Johnson loves the zen-like impact of a fountain. As he notes, introducing a fountain “will add a soothing sound to the space and enhance its charm.” (Psst… you can find his favorite here.)
Vary Your Light
Giving ample attention to your lighting is one of my favorite ways to make a big impact in any space when there isn’t a lot of budget to work with. Lighting can have a major influence on your mood and plays a big role in how you feel in a space. While the bright illumination of task lighting lets you focus and knock out your to-do lists, ambient lighting provides a consistent, uniform light that’s most often used to mimic daylight.
Sound confusing? Sure, there’s a lot to achieving the ideal lighting look you want for your front porch. But with that comes plenty of options for making it happen. “Lighting is just as important outside as it is inside, especially in the evenings,” Payne notes. Her favorite ways to vary the lighting on your front porch is to incorporate a few different sources—just be sure they don’t compete, and instead equally contribute to the overall impact. She says that lanterns, string lights, and candles “can instantly elevate a space and create a mood that’s perfect for entertaining.”
Johnson adds to this, noting that with recent developments in lighting technology, you have plenty of choices that allow you to dim or brighten your lighting (or even change its color) with your smartphone alone. Philips Hue Smart Lighting is a go-to.
Embrace Your Inner Green Thumb
While breaking ground and building a garden can require an abundance of free time and a big budget, there are easy and affordable options for evoking nature’s organic calm. Further illustrating Payne’s tip encouraging homeowners to stagger their planters, Johnson emphasizes adding a few faux or real plants and flowers to the mix.
If your inner gardener is looking for a task that’ll give your green thumb space to shine, plants that require a little nurturing and attention can be a great way to brighten up your front porch. Of course, there’s the added bonus of the many mental and emotional health benefits of bringing plants to your space. A little time spent taking care of your plant pals will soothe your soul just as much as it ensures your plants stay healthy, happy, and continue to thrive for years to come. I love this easy-growing friend for warmer climates as well as this pink stunner if you’re looking for something that’s a little hardier.
Think: Functional Gardening
Take your greenery a step further and let your plants work for you. The pandemic years saw a significant uptick in gardening interest, and the craze isn’t slowing down any time soon. Join in on the fun and dedicate a ledge or small corner of your front porch to a flock of potted herbs. If you’re really tight on space, Johnson loves the look of a wall-mounted planter that lets you maximize your vertical surfaces. Basil, thyme, mint, and parsley are all easy to get up and growing. Plus, all your summer dishes will benefit from the infusion of fresh flavor your DIY magic is sure to bring.
Wall It Up
If your small front porch is enclosed and offers a little wall space for hanging art, make the most of it. Framing a few affordable prints is a low-cost, low-effort way to let your personal style shine through. Ground the look with a central piece and build from there. While a gallery wall would overwhelm a smaller space, a few special-to-you artworks and hanging objects should do the trick.
Put It Into Words
If you’re looking to make a statement, don’t shy away from a literal approach. My go-to strategy? The Tile Mat lets you create and customize inviting notes to your heart’s content. Whether you want to welcome guests with a warm Hello! or embrace a little positive energy with a rainbow design, the day is yours to tile away. (Bonus: You can also use the Tile Mat Design Tool to thoughtfully plan out your mat in advance.)
Be Friendly to Your Feet
If it’s cozy comfort you’re going for, don’t overlook the space beneath your feet! According to Payne, adding a rug defines the space, giving it a true, outdoor living room feel. “It’s also a great way to bring in some color and a pattern,” she adds. Johnson agrees, and notes that there’s no shortage of options available online for affordable rugs that’ll effectively enhance your front porch. Get ready to sink your feet into small-space bliss.