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Sweet summer style

From brightly coloured pillows and rugs to chic outdoor lights and fun chairs, there are lots of ways to spruce up your porch and deck for summer

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Liz Toole loves summer evenings spent relaxing on her front porch. The owner of Above & Beyond Home Decor in Truro, Nova Scotia, says she’s created a cozy spot that combines solitude and socializing.

“It’s a great opportunity to chat with the neighbours walking by,” says Toole. “It’s really a social time in my area.”

In her opinion, the most welcoming item a porch can have is a comfortable rocking chair and maybe a glass of lemonade. She likes the outdoor rockers made from recycled plastic lumber by CR Plastic Products. The Canadian company’s chairs come in 16 fade-resistant colours and Toole says they’re heavy enough that they won’t blow around in a summer windstorm.

Her own porch has several rockers. She likes to add brightly coloured pillows from her shop for a touch of summer. If you live in a windy area, she suggests cutting a hole in the back of an outdoor pillow and sticking a heavy rock inside to weigh it down.

She also likes decorating her porch with leafy potted trees because they’re “harder to kill” and have a longer décor lifespan than other greenery. “I leave them on my porch year-round and decorate them at Christmastime,” she says. “When they outgrow their pots, I just plant them in the yard.”

Jon Chandler owns Terra Verde in Moncton. He’s noticing more homeowners paying attention to their front porches. His personal porch style includes “comfortable chairs, nice planters, and good lighting.”

It’s easy to overlook outdoor lighting; homeowners don’t always notice the rusted, plain sconces they inherited with their homes. But there are hundreds of outdoor-grade pendants, lanterns, post lights, floodlights, and even chandeliers, including LED options.

Chandler says brands like Kichler Lighting have “every kind of outdoor light imaginable,” from sleek modern flush lights to farmhouse-style hanging lanterns. It just depends on the style of your home. “If you have a traditional home, you’re probably not going for a super-modern look on your porch,” Chandler says. “It should go with the style of the rest of your house.”

Bringing in soft elements like cushions, rugs, and throws is important for any space, but Chandler cautions there are “outdoor” versions for good reason. “Fabrics need to be an outdoor fabric and the same goes with the foam in any of your porch furniture,” he says. “Your porch is going to get a lot of weather, so you need something that can take it.”

Interior decorator Chantelle Kennedy says now’s the time when everyone in Atlantic Canada wants to get outside and soak up the sunshine, and, naturally, that translates to wanting a spruced-up deck.

“You want to see the bright colours, and you want everything to feel fresh and new,” says Kennedy, who manages the Madison Mackenzie Home location in St. John’s. “You also want to be comfortable outside, so you need to bring some of those comfort pieces outside.”

She says nothing feels better on a cool summer evening than snuggling up under the stars with a cozy outdoor throw. She also likes the softness and privacy that outdoor draperies can lend to a deck or porch.

“We have a great three-piece bistro set, and it’s so nice to bring your morning coffee outside and sit with a cushion and a blanket,” says Kennedy. “Always go with items that make you happy.”

She regularly puts in custom Sunbrella fabric and upholstery orders for her customers, since the performance fabrics are designed not to fade in the sun or mildew in the rain. She’s also a big fan of outdoor rugs made from polypropylene, since you can easily rinse them off with a hose when they get dirty.

Buddha statues are having a huge moment in garden decor, and so are solar-powered outdoor stools that provide seating as well as a nice glow in the darkness. Bright aquas and corals are also big this summer. Kennedy likes matching these hues with classic ivories, whites, and light greys

Toole says teals, yellows, oranges, and reds are always popular shades for summer home décor. But she’s noticed an interesting trend just this year—and it’s that red-and-white pieces are making a strong showing for a special reason.

“There are so many patriotic items out this year that we haven’t seen in the past, all because of Canada 150,” explains Toole. “Pillows and doormats and wooden outdoor prints and decorations with the Canadian flag or the word ‘Canada’ on them. I’ve been amazed by how much there is this year.”

Jennifer Young, general manager of Cottage Industry in Charlottetown, says there aren’t any rules when it comes to choosing colours for porch décor. While palettes for inside the home are always evolving, she feels porch decor tends to stick to classic “happy” colours and stripe patterns that look good year after year.

Young likes statement pieces like colourful Solair chairs, styled to look like they’ve been plucked from a retro motel, or adirondacks painted in pretty hues.

Cottage Industry carries a huge collection of Dash & Albert outdoor rugs as well as indoor/outdoor throws and cushions made from eco-friendly polyethylene terephthalate that stands up to the sun and showers.

Keeping your porch clean and clutter-free is just as important as making sure it’s nicely decorated, according to Young. “People are always putting much more effort into decorating their interiors. Curb appeal is often kind of neglected, but that’s the first impression people have of your home,” says Young.

But Toole thinks it goes beyond the first impressions of anyone coming to your home; it’s also about how your porch makes you feel as a homeowner. “When you drive into your own driveway, it’s the first place you see that gives you the feeling of, ‘Oh, I’m home!’” says Toole. “Treat your front porch as an extension of your home, and make it welcoming, because you always want to make sure your home rises up to meet you.”