Porches and outdoor spaces today are a hot commodity.  Everyone wants to have an outside extension of their home for enjoyment and entertainment. But once you have that space, what is the best way to design it?  Nashville’s Emy Riley of Emy Riley Interiors is giving us her Top 5 list for essentials in creating the perfect porch!

BACKGROUND:  Emy Riley Interiors is a full-service residential design firm whose focus is creating beautiful interiors through a balance of scale, texture and function. Emy enjoys guiding her clients through the design process to create individually unique interiors that reflect their personality and lifestyles. Emy graduated in 1998 with a degree in Interior Design from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her projects include primary residences ranging from penthouse to apartment to second homes– at the lake, beach and mountains. She currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two sons and two golden retrievers.

Bringing the Indoors Out (A List of Essentials for the Perfect Porch)

Having just finished my own screen porch and working on indoor/outdoor spaces for several of my clients, designs for the outdoors is fresh on my mind.

People are spending so much time outside these days, that designing a living space purely for the purpose of enjoying the outdoors is becoming a priority. These spaces, whether it be a screen porch or a lakeside dock, are truly taking it to the next level.

Porches and patios aren’t just for iron and wicker anymore. We want it all, and in a day and age where a fully upholstered sofa and a fabulous chandelier can be easily specified for a porch or patio, we can expect to find it.  Let’s face it, we all want comfort just as much as we want style. To bring the indoors out, I do just that, by incorporating the same elements that go into creating great interiors… just outdoor friendly, for the most part!

Here are my top 5 favorite ways to create an outdoor space that is as comfortable and inviting as your living room:

Acrylic is one of my favorite things to incorporate into an interior space…AND it is totally outdoor friendly. It provides a new material for the room and it is pretty much indestructible. Kartell’s Louis and Victoria Ghost Chairs are great for an outdoor dining space….and your kids sticky finger prints will wipe right off!


Good lighting is one of the most important features in any room. Creating enough light in an outdoor space can be a challenge. I suggest using sconces wherever you can, and iron sconces are relatively easy to find and not only look great on a porch but can be treated so that they will wear well when exposed to the outdoor elements. A perfect pair can be found at South of Market. www.southofmarket.biz

**For a more budget friendly option you can usually find something at an architectural salvage shop and have them wired into sconces.

Rugs are a very important element in creating an “island” for your living space. Making sure they are outdoor friendly for porches is a must, but there are several great options to choose from. One of my favorite suppliers is Dash and Albert, their indoor/outdoor rugs are scrubbable, bleachable, and UV treated!

Pillows have long been a favorite way to add style and comfort to a room. However, here is where I attempt to break the rules…or maybe just bend them a little. Comfortable outdoor pillows are very hard to find. And as a designer, pillows filled with poly or foam are one of my biggest pet peeves!

So, here’s what I propose: take a great pillow with a cover that can be laundered or dry cleaned and cover the feather/down insert with a waterproof pillow cover. Put the cover on and then spray the pillow with a fabric protector like Vectra or Scotchguard…put them on your covered porch, sit back and enjoy! Yes, this is higher maintenance, there are no guarantees against wear and tear and I would recommend covering the pillows during inclimate weather, but to me the risk is definitely worth the reward!

Lacefield Designs is one of my favorite ready-made pillow suppliers. They offer a great variety of fabrics and trims with details that give a custom look.


Finally, Fire. Whether it’s an outdoor fireplace or a candle burning in a lantern, people naturally gravitate towards firelight. Lanterns not only create ambience they supply additional light at night. A fire pit and set of 4 chairs alone could define a great outdoor living space with friends and family gathered around.

I especially love West Elm’s outdoor lanterns

and Restoration Hardware’s fire tables.

Thank you, Emy! We love your picks and advice for creating maximum enjoyment (and style!) outdoors! For more information on Emy, see below!

Emy Riley Interiors


(Images: 1-3: Emy Riley Interiors; 4-thekingofdesign.com; 5-southofmarket.biz; 6-dashandalbert.com; 7-lacefielddesigns.com; 8-westelm.com; 9-restorationhardware.com; 10-12: Emy Riley Interiors)

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