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Q: How can I perk up my porch?

A: The porch is an architectural concept that has been in existence since prehistoric times. It can be traced back to overhanging rock shelters. The modern porch concept dates to ancient Greece.

In America, front porches have long been a cultural symbol of our love of nature. By creating a kind of outdoor living space, porches have become a way to greet guests and socialize with neighbors. They range from formal porticos to homey sitting areas above the front stoop.

If you’ve been feeling like your porch is starting to look, well, ancient, here are some surefire ways to create a space that is as functional as it is inviting.

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Dress up your porch with a couple of comfy seats. Any room, even an outside one, should be furnished in a way that creates conversation areas.

Depending on your view and your preference, position the seats to look out or to face each other.

If your porch isn’t protected from the elements, furniture with weatherproof fabric is a way to bring color, comfort and style to your space.

Add a table or two — and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Overturned crates, an old metal trunk dressed with colorful place mats, even a short bench can serve as a table.

Anything that can handle the elements and gives you enough space to place a book, a drink and perhaps a lamp can add to a look that represents your style.

For pattern, texture and color, lay down a rug. Not only will your feet thank you, but a rug can complete the look of the space and unify the colors and textures of an eclectic collection of porch furnishings.

If a rug doesn’t appeal to you, consider painting a design directly onto the porch floor for a fun, changeable pop of color.

Accent pieces can also bring disparate elements together. Two chairs in different colors, for example, look more cohesive when you add pillows in patterns or stripes that highlight both of the chair colors.

Add your accent patterns and textures one at a time, and have an editing eye to keep a good balance of interest and serenity.

If space allows, include storage pieces such as a bookcase that can hold candles, plants and other accent pieces.

A wicker basket purchased at a yard sale can hold extra blankets, or the trunk you are using as a table could hold picnic pates, napkins and plastic glasses for an outside brunch, snack or late-night treat.

Depending on the location of your porch, privacy may be an issue. If so, sheer draperies can help block the view and shield guests from the sun.

For a more complete inside/outside experience, use your protected wall for favorite artwork or photographs. Choose plastic frames and covers to protect bare feet from accidents with broken glass.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to

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