How to make your outdoor living space a special place that invites the outdoors (and sometimes the neighbors) in.
Outdoor living is central to life at The Porches. Just ask Deborah Newlin Smith, whose infamous porch swing has attracted so much attention she’s considered putting out a sign up sheet for all the neighbors who have asked to sit in it. “I’ve got a porch bed swing that hangs from the rafters hung by thick rope,” she says. “It rocks just enough to create a gentle movement that’s perfect for an afternoon nap.”
Deborah had the swing made in Alabama and shipped to Steamboat. “It’s a southern thing,” she says. The swing wood frame is painted black and holds a a single size mattress upholstered in off white canvas . She has black and white zigzag striped pillows to match and a throw blanket for curling up with a book on a chilly summer night.
She sees the porch as an extension of her living space, not something that’s separate from it. But the significance of a front porch is a topic Deborah can wax poetic about. “There’s just something old fashioned about it. You sit and see people walking by and engage in conversation, sometimes invite them in. It’s reminiscent of a time in the early twentieth century when community mattered, when people mattered.”
Deborah couldn’t be more thrilled to have found that lifestyle still exists at The Porches. We asked Deborah for some advice on how to set up the perfect outdoor living space.
#1) Create space for relaxation and space for conversation.
While the porch swing is the perfect spot for some solitary time, like reading or napping, it’s important to also create a space for conversation. The key is a low table surrounded by chairs—I have five chairs, one for each family member. The chairs should be comfortable enough for long periods of time and the table needs to be durable and weather resistant—mine is a teak set by Casual Classics I bought from Christie Sports.
#2) Bring some life into the space and connect indoors and out with plants and flowers.
I always put out big pots of perennials in the summer, geraniums and petunias. Last year I tried a few 10” x 10” wall boxes of succulents and they did really well outside. I’d eventually like to work up to a living wall, which is great for creating clean air. One of the best things about living at The Porches is when I travel I know I can rely on the staff to look after my plants while I’m gone.
#3) Add a touch of whimsy.
I have this little red wagon my daughter gave me so we can bring food to grill over to the barn. I love it so much. I always leave it parked in front of the porch swing. People are always asking me to borrow it but I’m so possessive over it! It was a gift from my youngest, who’s grown up now. When she was young, we used to go to our lake house in Pennsylvania and I’d rock her on our wicker swing. This porch swing reminds me of that. When she’s reading, sometimes I will pull up a chair and rock her with my foot—it brings back wonderful memories.
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