Exterior Curb Appeal

19 Ways to Make Your Front Porch More Inviting in Winter

It may be freezing outside, but your home's icy entry can still feel warm and welcoming.
A front porch covered in snow with an American flag hanging out front.
Photo: istockphoto.com

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Step into a winter wonderland of warmth and welcome right at your front door. With the holidays over and the lights and baubles stashed away until next year, the front porch can easily become a lifeless afterthought.

“Curb appeal is not just about accenting the home visually. Curb appeal evokes a feeling that people will have as they imagine themselves walking up to the front door and entering the home. It sets the tone for the rest of their experience,” says Trent Brown, founder and principal designer at Ground Break Design. Whether you’re a seasoned decorator or a first-timer, reinvigorate your entryway at this darkest time of year by trying out a few of these festive ways to make your porch a cozy haven.

1. Surround the door with attractive containers.

Front porch in winter, with a doormat, firewood in barrels, and other decor.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Decorative containers aren’t just for spring and summer—and don’t be afraid to mix and match boxes, bins, and barrels. “Use accent pieces to draw people’s eye to the front porch,” Brown says. “Planter pots framing either side of the front door, or on the front steps is a simple way to draw attention there.”

Give some thought as to what you are going to put inside of your containers. If you want to enhance the visual appeal, place plants inside the containers. If your purpose is purely decorative, you might choose to leave the containers empty for a minimalist effect. Choosing containers with similar colors will help unify the design, though uniformity isn’t necessary. “Two or four of the same planter pots will be more effective at drawing attention than one or three,” Brown says. “Don’t overpower the space, though. Simple is better, and using reds, greens, whites, gold and silvers this time of year are tried and true festive additions, but try to use complimentary accent colors to your home’s aesthetic.” Make sure the containers have holes for drainage if you’re decorating with plants.

2. Display live evergreens.

Townhouse entrance with ornate railings and gate.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Create a welcoming entrance by placing a few large containers filled with live evergreens near the front door. Some good options include holly, boxwood, spruce, juniper, and Chamaecyparis (also known as false cypress). Beginning in the fall, garden centers usually stock a selection of smaller evergreen specimens perfect for containers.

A few caveats, though: If you want to carry your evergreens over from season to season, be sure the containers have drainage holes and are rated for freezing temperatures. Because plant roots aren’t as well insulated from the cold in containers as they are in the ground, guard against frost damage by selecting shrubs that are hardy to two zones below your hardiness zone. For example, if you live in Zone 5, select specimens that are hardy to Zone 3.

RELATED: Liven Up Your Winter Porch with 8 Cold-Loving Plants

3. Incorporate birch branches.

Christmas arrangement with birch and pine on porch
Photo: istockphoto.com

Available in various lengths at most garden centers, birch branches and twigs are great choices for the “thriller” in a container arrangement. Bundle together longer branches for a vertical accent near the door, or fill a galvanized container with shorter lengths for a woodsy vignette.

4. Illuminate your steps with lanterns.

Snowy courtyard with Christmas porch, veranda, wreath, Christmas tree, garland,christmas balls and lanterns.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Light up a cold night with the warm glow of lanterns outfitted with LED candles. Outdoor lanterns, like Pottery Barn’s Malta Lantern, come in a variety of materials and colors, and many are pretreated to withstand the elements. Select candles with timers that allow you to set them once and forget about them for the rest of the season.

5. Hang solar-powered string and path lights.

White porch rail and siding, dog bed, and child-size tipi decorated with white string lights on porch.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Sunlight may be in short supply this time of year, but now that the trees have dropped their leaves a surprising amount of light can reach a well-positioned solar panel. In fact, there may be enough sun to power a string lights draped along an eave or woven through a container arrangement. Solar path lights are another option for bringing light to an entryway.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Solar String Lights We Tested This Year

6. Welcome friends with a decorative doormat.

A man's winter boots standing outside on a welcome mat in the snow.
Photo: istockphoto.com

An appealing doormat with a design that evokes winter—think snowflakes, cardinals, or snowmen—is an inexpensive way to add a cheerful touch to your front entryway.

7. Set up a vintage vignette.

Antique sled and skates propped up against white home siding, with Christmas wreath on adjacent brown front door.
Photo: Istockphoto.com

An old pair of skis or a wooden sled propped up near the front door can create a nostalgic winter tableau. Even a simple pair of white figure skates (scuffs and all!) hung on the door adds seasonal interest. You can probably find vintage ski equipment in secondhand stores or thrift shops. Facebook Marketplace and other online auction websites may also offer a selection of retro ski gear.

8. Fill window boxes with seasonal greens.

Window box in winter with evergreen boughs, red berries, and other greenery.
Photo: istockphoto.com

If you have window boxes around the porch, don’t miss the opportunity to fill them with evergreen boughs, foraged branches, pine cones, dried hydrangea blossoms, and other textured, colorful greens.

“Consider adding potted evergreens or boxwood,” advises David Birkes, owner, general contractor, and builder at Birkes Builders in Colleyville, Tx. “They are sturdy against the cold and maintain structure and color. I’ve found that incorporating these elements thoughtfully creates a porch space that is not only inviting but also echoes the serene beauty of winter.” (Twinkling solar string lights in the window boxes will look even better!) Not only will the street view be beautiful, but the view from inside will be pretty dreamy, too.

9. Stuff hanging baskets with seasonal color.

A planter filled with Christmas flowers with a background of snow and trees.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Don’t pack up the hanging baskets just because winter’s arrived. There’s plenty you can put in them that will bring color to your front door zone.

“Cedar, fir, spruce, and hemlock foliage always work great for providing a winter festive look, but you can branch out (pun intended) into some other species that will provide some color interest,” says Brown. “For a classic look, holly and yew” are good options. “Winterberry has gorgeous color varieties outside of the traditional seasonal choices, and juniper will have a great, silvery-bluish hue. …adding natural elements like pine cones, burlap, and twine to those arrangements will give things more of a rustic feel.”

RELATED: 13 Types of Holly Plants All DIY Landscapers Should Know

10. Put love on display.

Cosy home entrance porch with a plant and a heart on a door knob
Photo: istockphoto.com

Though February is the shortest month, it can seem interminable—but it’s also the month of love. Once Christmas and Hanukkah decorations come down, why not freshen up the porch with touches of pink and red? Something as simple as a red doormat and a heart on the door can brighten your entry.

11. Set up a few seats.

A front porch covered in snow with a snow shovel propped against the railing and patio furniture covered in snow.
Photo: istockphoto.com

If your patio furniture fits the space, set it front and center by the entry, and dress it with a knitted or fur throw and a few accent pillows. Wool, fleece, and sherpa are all excellent options for trapping heat and providing insulation for cold winter nights!

“A nice accent chair with a side table, or a pair of cozy lounge chairs, give people a welcoming feeling on the front porch even if they don’t actually sit in the chairs,” suggests Brown. “Toss a blanket over the arm of the chair or add a festive accent cushion to really take the coziness level up a notch.”

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The 8 Best Outdoor Furniture Brands of the Year

12. Place a door basket on the porch.

Basket with cones and fir branches. new year winter christmas atmosphere.
Photo: istockphoto.com

A door basket is a versatile accessory that can be easily updated from season to season. For the winter, try a mix of evergreens, pine cones, and faux berry branches. When Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day roll around, add in some colorful baubles, and when spring finally arrives, fill it with faux tulips and daffodils.

13. Hang metal artwork.

Outdoor decorative tin metal star hanging on wood background
Photo: istockphoto.com

An empty exterior wall practically begs to be decorated and metal artwork that depicts wintry scenes like snowflakes, evergreen trees, or cardinals can stand up to the elements. With a thorough coating of a protective finish like Rust-Oleum, metal decorative items can last indefinitely, and rust won’t drip down the wall.

RELATED: Solved! What’s the Best Paint for Metal?

14. Make (or buy) a seasonal wreath.

Winter wreath with lavender and cinnamon sticks, and flowers on a weathered door.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Ready-made wreaths are easy enough to procure, but what’s stopping you from grabbing a glue gun and making one that’s distinctly yours? Wrap a wreath form with a plaid scarf and let the fringed ends hang at the bottom. Complete the wintertime look by adding a few evergreen branches and pine cones where the ends cross. For a different approach, hang a trio of boxwood wreaths vertically down the door and accent each with a large bow, or leave them unadorned for a more contemporary look.

15.  Give strays a cozy spot.

stray cat sitting in outdoor wooden cat house.
Photo: istockphoto.com

One of the best ways to enhance your front entryway and extend compassion to furry friends during the winter is to leave a stray box on your front porch. Stray boxes aren’t necessarily meant to be decorative, but they provide a warm and cozy refuge for stray cats and dogs.

To build your own stray box, cut up sheets of styrofoam and use silicone glue to hold them together, or cut a “doorway” into a lidded plastic storage tote. (Cat rescue site Neighborhood Cats has directions for building both versions.)

If you want to zhuzh up your box, paint the exterior in a nontoxic hue that complements your siding. “Color schemes in winter favor cool blues, crisp whites, and silvery greens that reflect the season, paired with materials like galvanized steel or reclaimed wood for rustic resilience,” Birkes says.

RELATED: The 50 Best Products for Surviving Winter

16. Dress up your railings with garland.

Front porch with rails decorated with garlands.
Photo: Southern Hospitality

If you have railings on your front porch, accent them with festive greenery for a natural, wintery touch. Twine artificial garlands with ribbons, berries, pinecones, or lights through the rails, and secure them with zip ties to withstand winter winds.

17. Prop a “welcome” sign.

christmas welcome sign on porch.
Photo: amazon.com

What better way to welcome guests into your home than a sign that spells out your greetings? The Welcome Deer buffalo plaid sign from My Word! is made from weatherproof composite and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Position it near your entryway to ensure it’s visible to guests when entering your home.

18. Offer up treats to delivery drivers.

box of treats for delivery drivers on front porch
Photo: thinkingcloset.com

Spruce up your front porch with a thoughtful box of snacks and beverages for delivery drivers. Fill a sturdy, weather-resistant box with an assortment of snacks and drinks and place it near your door, or where packages are delivered to your home. You can even attach a note expressing gratitude, like this blogger did.

19. Sway on a swing.

A young woman in winter clothes sits on a porch swing looking out onto the snow covered yard.
Photo: istockphoto.com

The gentle sway of a porch swing coupled with the calm winter atmosphere creates the perfect front porch experience for your home. Simply find the structural ceiling joists on your porch, mark the location you want your swing to hang, install a swing hanger (available at most home improvement stores), and hang your swing using durable chains. Complete the look with a cozy seat cushion and throw pillows.