Most people's porches are pretty one-note. You plant some shrubs and flowers you pray won't die within months, you plop down a doormat, maybe hang a flag, and call it a day. But when blogger Julia Engel and her husband, Thomas Berolzheimer, moved into the South Carolina home they'd recently renovated, they didn't want to settle for so-so. After all, they'd spent a year waiting to move into the house, and its wraparound porch was too much of a focal point to ignore.
"Our big reason to move from San Francisco to Charleston was to have outdoor space, and to spend as much time out there as possible," Julia explained. "We wanted to make it feel like a room we'd want to spend time in, rather than something you pass by on your way in and out."
Just looking at Julia's effortlessly glam style, it's easy to think she only shops at places the rest of us dream of splurging at, but that wasn't the case. Most of her finds actually came from Lowe's — and her ideas are so easy to snag you have no excuse not to give your porch its own overhaul this summer. What are you waiting for?!
"From the get-go, we really wanted to make it a space that felt like a seamless transition from the inside of the house outside. That helped us define the space and really cozy it up," Julia says.
With that in mind, she broke the space up into different areas, which would serve different functions, like a bar cart area, an area for plants, and a dining area.
Wicker Dining Chairs, $399 for a set of two
Julia loves hydrangea trees, but they're a little too sensitive to handle a direct hit from the Carolina sun all day, every day. Rather than avoid them, she chose two potted trees to flank the doorway. That way they're shaded — and she still gets to enjoy them.
Hydrangea Tree, $50
A small, teak bar cart doesn't take up too much space on the porch, and it keeps Julia's essentials at the ready in case people come over. The outdoor lamp has such a classic design that it helps carry that "indoor comfort" vibe outside.
Kenroy Home Outdoor Table Lamp, $178
Julia didn't choose just any green plants to deck out her bar cart area. Since she often makes cocktails with mint, rosemary, basil, and lavender in them, she decided to put the herbs in planters, so she could easily grab a few leaves while mi drinks.
Mint plants, four-pack, $20
Julia knew she wanted to eat outside, so a bistro table and chairs were a must — and so was an outdoor rug. It may seem superfluous, but it made a huge difference in the overall look.
"The porch is quite long, so the rug makes the dining area feel like its own special section and brings together all of those pieces," she explains.
Archer Lane Indoor/Outdoor Rug in Sand, $198
Rather than hang a few floodlights and call it a day, Julia tried to make the lighting as relaxed as possible. A few lanterns brightened up one corner, while she added a floor lamp next to the bistro table, and an outdoor table lamp on the bar cart to make it feel more homey.
Allen + Roth Decorative Outdoor Lantern, $25
Julia will be real with you: "I would like to have a green thumb. I love plants and having as many around as possible, but my husband really has more of a green thumb than I do," she admits.
A plant stand helped her organize her plants, creating two tiers of greenery to bring life to the porch. Painted the same shade of white as the walls and floor, it blends into the background, letting the greens be the focus.
Nottingham Rectangular Plant Stand, $41
Just to the left of the front door, Julia set up two white rocking chairs and a ceramic stool, which is just the right height for resting a glass. "We can see the water from our porch, so it's the perfect spot to have coffee in the morning, or a glass of wine at night," she says. Um, jeaaaalous.
International Concepts White Acacia Rocking Chair, $123
Julia bought a bunch of terracotta planters in varying sizes, then potted all kinds of plants in them. That way, she can change up the look of her porch just by moving the greenery around — or give them less sunlight, if they're starting to wither in the lowcountry heat.
Pennington Blue Ceramic Planter, $27
Patio furniture can often be covered in bold, in-your-face patterns, which can be distracting. Julia chose a warm, neutral palette — focusing mostly on sand and wood tones — so the decor wouldn't overpower the front of her house.
"Our house is sort of a farmhouse style, with shiplap throughout it, so we wanted to create something that'd fit with that style and feel comfortable," she explains.
Joanna Gaines would be proud.