Front Porch Problems

There’s nothing better than a cheerful front porch to welcome people to your home, right?  In the South, porches are quintessential elements of a home, architecturally and socially.  A cheerful front porch is the lipstick of the house. Bright pops of color can do wonders for an otherwise ordinary face entrance.  Unfortunately, our front porch (if you could even call it that) is a bit lackluster in the welcome department.


See what I mean?

We are in the idea stages and would like to solicit some input about ways to spruce it up, so here’s the N-portant things you need to know about our front porch/entry area.

  1. Necessary.  We use our front door as our primary entry into the house because our garage is usually full of projects (see this post), which renders the garage entry to the house more inaccessible from the outside.  Consequently, the walkway and entry need to stay somewhat open and clutter-free so we don’t trip or bump into things whilst juggling ten bags of groceries to be able to unlock the door. In other words, we are not putting up a harvest display with Cinderella’s-chariot-sized-pumpkins and life-size scarecrows barring access to our home.
  2. Narrow.  When we step out of our cars, we step onto the brick pavers, so that just leaves the paved area and the trim of pavers for walk space/welcome space/whatever.  This is a very tight entry, so there isn’t enough room on either side of the door for planters, to my dismay. I had great visions of potted ferns on plant stands, but there isn’t enough room for plants and people to share the stoop. Sacrifices had to be made, and we aren’t a fan of the Aztec way of life.  Or death. You get the picture.
  3. North-facing.  The brick wall to the left blocks all of the morning light, and the elevation + pitch of our roof combine to ensure that only the front of the walk gets afternoon sun (and only March through October).  As you can see, the overhang makes the stoop very dark (and also damp), which doesn’t help matters.  This makes choosing plants tricky business because the plants must be shade-loving if they are under the overhang, or they must prefer afternoon sun during the hottest-part-of-the-day-in-the-hottest-part-of-the-year but be able to survive solely on indirect light during the cooler winter months.  We can certainly shift plants from the front/back yard seasonally, but we would prefer seasonal changes that don’t involve lugging heavy pots around/through the house.  At the same time, we don’t like to throw away money on annuals or plants that aren’t hardy enough for winter. No real pumpkin will last in this kind of dark/damp/too hot environment without breeding bacteria, fungi, and insects.  We love pumpkins, so this is especially sad for us.  
  4. Gnatty.  Yes, I realize this doesn’t actually start with the letter N.  Lots of gnats, moths, mosquitoes, etc. hang out in the dark, damp overhang part of the entry.  We’d prefer other houseguests.
  5. Nightlife.  The sole benefit of the gnattiness is the thriving tree frog and gecko population also inhabiting in our entry.  Unfortunately, members of the gecko family crawl into the rafters for daytime naps…and sometimes crawl into the house.  Nothing like watching Netflix late at night and noticing creepy-crawly shadows on the ceilings…and then having to devise ways to get baby geckos down from 13 foot plus ceilings and safely to their family outside.  Not an easy task, folks.
  6. Naked.  And I don’t mean the door.  The oval panel in the door allows for some natural light to enter the foyer (good) but also enables anyone passing by our home at night to see everyone and everything if we have any lights on at all.  The glass is not entirely frosted (including a section in the center with a ridiculously hideous floral motif resembling the worst kind of weed imaginable), so no running around naked in the house.  Not that we ever do that, but you know.  We plan to replace the door with a less revealing one, but that will have to wait, given other more pressing expenses like floors.  In the meanwhile, we’ve thought about putting up a curtain rod like these and curtain panels on the inside that we can open in the day and close at night for privacy (several of our neighbors do this, including my parents).  However, our narrow entry has an equally narrow foyer on the opposite side of the door, so the curtains will take up valuable real estate.  Le sigh.

N-y brilliant ideas?