There’s nothing better in the South than sitting on the porch in the afternoon, watching the sun go down, and having a glass of wine. Or in my case a gin and tonic.
I love to transform a porch into a true outdoor room. Just because it’s made for the inside doesn’t mean that it can’t go outdoors.
Luckily, we now have wonderful outdoor fabrics in the market that make things easier for decorating. I love to use whicker, baskets, tons of pillows, and rugs. I have even been known to bring lamps out onto porches. You can always just run it in if the rain is coming!
There’s nothing more wonderful than filling a porch with tons of candles. And in Savannah, citronella candles are your friends. The bugs will carry you away! I love to plant a gardenia or two near the porch, because there’s nothing better than the smell of gardenia at dusk. It’s also always nice to have a potted herb garden on the porch, even it’s just for running your hand through and getting a smell of the fresh herbs.
My dogs Simon and Charlie LOVE to lay out on the porch with me as well. So don’t forget a nice comfy dog bed for the pets. (I love the dog beds from Harry Barker.)
One of my favorite things in the summer to do is to go antiquing and find wonderful containers that cost $5 or $10 and then fill them with annual plants. Even if at the end of the season the container is ruined, at least it’s served a purpose for that season.
I like porches that are monochromatic, and getting a pop of color from the flowers that I use. And if you keep the porch monochromatic, it’s easy to pop color through the season for different parties and events. I personally love to keep the porch all green, because green just seems to work outside. The best thing about outdoor living is that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Paint can be chipping off the chair, the table can be slightly rotting, or you can have mold growing on the rug; it all adds a certain Old Southern charm.
Especially here in the South, we love our giant hanging baskets- the bigger the better. Giant Boston ferns, giant baskets of ivy and impatients. And there’s nothing prettier than a giant hanging basket of red geraniums and English ivy.
If you read my book, Paula Deen’s Savannah Style with Brandon Branch, you will have noticed there are no ceiling fans pictured in the book except for on porches. Indoor ceiling fans are my pet peeve - I don’t believe in them. I believe ceiling fans are only made for porches. With temperatures soaring into the 100’s in the South, a ceiling fan is a nice bonus to an outdoor room.
So this summer get outside, get to decorating, get your hands in the dirt and have a gin and tonic on me!
Photos by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn