You can’t hear the creak of a rocking chair on Facebook or smell the lilacs blooming on Twitter. Maybe that’s why even in this ultraconnected era, almost everybody still wishes for a front porch. They’re the second-most requested feature for our homes, according to The American Institute of Architects (low-maintenance exterior materials top the list). Grand or modest, porches function as the handshake to guests, the hug to family. So outfit yours as the most welcoming, relaxing, personal space possible.
To make your exterior as ready for conversations as your interior, use the many options in weather-resistant furniture, fabrics and rugs to get all the comforts of the indoors outside. Because porches are more sheltered from the elements than a deck, it’s OK to accessorize with items you wouldn’t normally use outside. Bright pillows and decorative favorites make for a uniquely you porch without too much worry—or work.
Porch pointers: Keys to an inviting outdoor space
1 Furniture extras Make it easy to linger by adding end tables convenient to each seating area and softening the rockers, gliders and other seats with throw pillows and cushions.
2 Up and down Add an outdoor rug for barefoot comfort. Try painting ceilings sky blue to create an uplifting sense of larger space.
3 Privacy Block unwanted views (and reduce wind) with curtains and screens. Tall potted plants, such as bamboo, or a trellis with a climbing vine also work.
4 Light Candles add evening romance (and pest control if they’re citronella), but strings of twinkle lights also add mood without the hassle or concerns of open flames. Installing dimmable recessed lights overhead provides flexibility. Garden lights connect porch to yard and invite twilight strolls.
5 Sound Mask neighborhood noises with the soothing sound of a burbling fountain. The variety of designs—from floor size to tabletop—means one will fit your porch style.
6 Warmth Outdoor heaters are an investment, but they may buy a dozen extra evenings that would be too chilly otherwise.
Chair MB7143 Cape Library, color: antique white. Mainly Baskets. (877) 702-5654; mainlybaskets.com  Daybed MB7435 Vineyard’s daybed, color: antique white. Mainly Baskets. mainlybaskets.com  Lantern 2-8300766PB Bristol, medium. Pottery Barn. (800) 922-9934; potterybarn.com  Outdoor curtains 13160002 Sunbrella canvas, color: white. Restoration Hardware. (800) 762-1005; restorationhardware.com  Pillow fabric Red pattern: Shine On from Modern Essentials collection. Waverly. (877) 292-8375; waverly.com  Rug 17-3168192PB Port stripe indoor/outdoor rug, color: blue. Pottery Barn. potterybarn.com  Table and chairs TO358 three-piece cafe folding table set. Ballard Designs. (800) 367-2775; ballarddesigns.com .