Create a welcoming setting for outdoor play and relaxation.

Dear Debbie;

Our porch is looking forlorn and we are using it all the time now that social distancing is in place. (We group together with our families and friends via social media.) Any ideas for a facelift that we can handle ourselves? Thanks and stay safe.
— Barb

Dear Barb;

We are all looking for ways to keep up our spirits and stay in touch during these challenging times. Any outdoor space that is part of your home, whether it’s a tiny apartment balcony, a bit of backyard or an inviting porch is wonderfully welcome as the weather beckons us outside. Your porch is an outdoor living space that fulfills many roles. Entertainment 24/7 is just steps away … watching the birds and wild life, viewing nature’s greenery, trees and flowers, feeling the sun’s rays and balmy breezes, watching the stars at night. For these solitary pastimes you will want a comfy padded sofa or a rocking chair to settle into and enjoy the sights. Eating alfresco is as easy as setting up a bistro table. Look for old pieces of furniture around the house that can be fixed up for outdoor living. Repurpose trunks, crates and ladders to add character and offer spots to line up flowerpots, a reading lamp and books and magazines.

How are the exterior walls and floor of your porch? Just like inside, you don’t want to be staring at surfaces that have cracks, dirt or peeling paint. Give the walls and floor a good clean. Repair what you can, including split floorboards, wobbly steps, a damaged screen door, poor lighting. If you decide to replace the floor, make sure the porch’s foundations are solid. There are excellent outdoor flooring products, pressure treated wood, vinyl and composites that look like natural wood and are durable, resistant to water, mould and stains. Brick pavers and stone have a special appeal but are heavy and require strong foundation support.

Decorate simply with comfort in mind. Introduce fabric colours and patterns with touchable textures. Cushions and blankets, a curtain or blinds to protect you from inclement weather, a bit of signage or wall décor, lanterns and other task lighting all combine to create a welcome mood.

Dear Debbie;

I am an avid collector of funky art, especially pieces made from iron and other metals. Some of my neighbours comment about the “ugly pile of junk” on my verandah, but I think they are wrong. Should I not be able to display what I like?
— Paulette

Dear Paulette

The famous quote that “art is in the eye of the beholder” came to mind when I read your letter. Your verandah is your property and you can decorate it as you like. I would draw the line at any art that has offensive motifs or subjects, but otherwise enjoy your collection. Take a look at your display from your neighbours’ views of your property. Don’t overcrowd. Set up a tableau. Make it a point of interest and you just might win some converts. Ensure that your property’s exterior is kept up; a fresh coat of paint, clean windows, the lawn and plants cared for. One or two rocking chairs set up in the middle of your collection and the scene will be positively welcoming for you and those who walk by.