'Porchscapes': Taking advantage of a porch can give a whole other space for family time and relaxing

2013-08-26T00:00:00Z 2013-08-28T16:05:06Z 'Porchscapes': Taking advantage of a porch can give a whole other space for family time and relaxingJane Ammeson nwitimes.com
August 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The front porch is more than a passage into the home, it also reflects our personal style and offers a welcoming initiation. Pretty porches create curb appeal, connecting the front yard to the home and also offering a place to linger to chat, drink a cup of coffee or glass of wine, read a book or all of the above.

“I think the most important thing about our porch was the stories we heard when we were there, the community that happened to the point where most people, even our kids, didn't want to get off and leave,” said Angela McCrovitz, owner of the former Angela’s Pantry, a restaurant located in a home (with a porch of course) in Miller Beach. “They laughed, they cried, they healed, they shared and they learned. Our porch was a safe place and a place of hope. Our restaurant was based on the premise of providing comfort food and a gathering for neighbors and community which was evident by the love that goes into every recipe.”

To create an inviting porch, McCrovitz, who lived in Charleston for a while where she worked as a food stylist and instructor before returning to Northwest Indiana, adding rocking chairs she’d gotten from a Charleston plantation, planters filled with fresh herbs, a couch, Adirondack chairs, a fireplace for cool weather and a small wood table painted white perfect for playing chess and other boards games. Her porch is also a sanctuary for birds with feeders for both seed eaters and sweet drinking hummingbirds. All this is accented with the differing tunes emanating from 15 wind chimes.

Surrounding the wide front porch are masses of flowers and herbs as well as a few vegetables McCrovitz used in her kitchen. A hand drawn map tells the name of each items planted.

“Plant pots filled with flowers that you like,” said Leslie Rodriquez, nursery supervisor for Chesterton Feed and Garden. “Annuals work best so you can inexpensively swap out those that don’t work for you or start fading with time.”

Take a step beyond planters and pots. GroVert Living Wall Planters, lined with moisture mats, are cells filled with favorite plants and then mounted on the wall either separately or in groups.

“GroVert also has a living wall planter that looks like a picture frame and comes in several wood colors like cherry, walnut, oak and barn wood,” said Rodriquez. “Each one holds a plant, has a moisture mat and comes with a hanger.”

Like the look of a well worn and loved sweater? FloVert Trailing Garden 5 Felt Pocket with Drip Irrigation can be hung on the wall or molded around porch rails or chairs and the pockets filled with favorite plants.

The soothing sounds and sights of flowing water are also a welcome addition to a porch.

“Fountains are easy to maintain and they come in all sizes and styles,” said Rodriquez. “We have some from Indonesia where the stones are set in by hand and look like beautiful vases. My favorite is a 2-foot high slate mushroom decorated with individual stones.”

In her book Weekend Retreats (Rizzoli, 2009), design expert Susanna Salk describes porches as your home’s calling card, its style giving visitors a preview of what's inside. According to Salk, the first rule is not to neglect your porch or use it for storage. Instead, porches should be thought of outside rooms as well as a place for a touch of whimsy. Comfy chairs and cushions to sit, favorite pieces of garden art, bird houses, wind chimes and even a fountain can all be used to create a perfect personalized porchscape.

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