Room of the Month - Summertime Porch

By Sarah Van Arsdale on August 11th, 2006

At NYIAD we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for designing every room they create:

  1. A successful room is functional.
  2. A successful room expresses a mood.
  3. A successful room exhibits a sense of harmony.

This simple Three-Step Method is the secret of every interior ever designed. We teach our interior design students to consider these three steps every time they look at a room. You'll find the great home decorating ideas in our Room of the Month series as well as in the design tips on this site helpful in creating outstanding room designs.

When our students mail in their interior design project for analysis by their instructor, the instructor starts by commenting on these three Guidelines. Of course, the instructor analyzes other elements of the project too – decor, layout, furniture, style etc. But the key to good decor – and the essential element of every great interior design – is adherence to these three NYIAD Guidelines.

How do they work? How can you apply them? It's beyond the scope of this Web site to teach you every nuance, but you will get an inkling from the Room of the Month Analysis that follows.

Summertime Porch

Ah, summer. In the Northeast, summer is the time for slowing down and enjoying the cooling breezes that come through the leafy trees, chatting with friends and family or settling into the good books you never seem to find time for in the hectic fall, winter, and spring.

This porch provides a respite from the heat of the day, being surrounded by rhododendron bushes and shaded by towering maple trees.

Analyzing this porch design with the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design — function, mood and harmony — is pure pleasure, because the room is such a delightful place to visit.

Looking first at the mood of this room, the decor of the porch is definitely summertime casual, with a bit of a Victorian note to it. This is in keeping with the rest of the house, which is a Victorian in the seaside town of Newburyport.

Summer Porch Design
porch decor

The wicker furniture lets the visitor know this is a place where relaxation dominates. The room is lovely without being overly fussy, and it's elegant without being too formal.

One way this decorator has kept the mood casual is by using funky antiques. The stack of three ancient suitcases to serve as a side table gives the room a whimsical look.

In terms of the function of this room, the primary function of this porch design is to provide a comfortable, cool spot for relaxing. The furniture is the kind you just sink into and don't want to leave, and the double coffee tables can also work as ottomans.

The loveseat and chairs are arranged in a perfect semi-circle, conducive to conversation. The tables provide a spot for setting the pitcher of lemonade and the plate of sugar cookies, or could even serve as tables for a picnic on the porch.


One clever design move here was to use two wicker tables for the center of the room. This gives the room versatility, because the tables can be separated and moved to best serve the needs of the moment.

Finally, the decor of this porch doesn't just harmonize: it sings! The small-paned windows, the white wicker, and the lattice-covered ceiling all play with the same patterns. The floral cushions and floral details, such as the basket of flowers on the wall, emphasize the feeling of being in the outdoors which in turn is produced by the bushes surrounding the room.

The fresh plants with blooming flowers really bring the outdoors in, literally.

sunroom porch decor
porch design with weathervane

This outdoors/indoors motif is continued with the stone statue of a cat curiously watching the activities of the room, and the woven decorative branches on one wall. The antique weathervane sounds again the Victorian note.

All in all, this porch is the sort of inviting room where a visitor just wants to sit for awhile and listen to the summertime birds in the garden.