It’s bitter cold outside, but that doesn't mean your home's curb appeal should leave your guests cold too. With the holidays over and the lights and baubles stashed away until next year, the porch presents a wintertime challenge. Stripped of its seasonal charm, it can easily become a lifeless afterthought. Reinvigorate yours at this darkest time of year by trying out a few of these 15 ways to warm up your front porch.
Related: 10 Life-Changing Buys to Help You Survive Winter Mornings
Containers aren’t just for spring and summer. They're an excellent way to add flair to the front porch during the off season too. Because they're available in a variety of sizes and styles, there's a perfect container out there for every home—but don't be afraid to mix and match. Choosing containers with similar colors will help unify the design, but uniformity isn't necessary. It is important, however, to make sure the containers have holes for drainage if you're using live plants.
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. Also, plant roots aren't as well insulated from the cold in containers as they are in the ground, so 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
Evergreen Boughs and Pine Cones
The "thriller, filler, spiller" formula for creating eye-catching containers applies in the winter too. Start with a dramatic, upright focal point (a "thriller")—store-bought curly willow or interesting branches from the garden are ideal for this. Then arrange evergreen boughs of different colors and textures so that some drape over the sides ("spillers") and others support and flesh out the display ("fillers"). Placing floral foam or chicken wire in the bottom of the container will help keep things in position.
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.
Light up a cold night with the warm glow of lanterns outfitted with LED candles. Outdoor lanterns 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.
Related: 9 DIY Lanterns to Illuminate Your Porch, Patio, or Garden
Solar-Powered String and Path Lights
Even though sunlight is in short supply at this time of year, 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 of lights draped along an eave or weaved through a container arrangement. Path lights, available in a variety of styles, are another option for bringing light to an entryway.
Related: 9 Super Practical Products You Can Power with Sunshine
Decorative Entry Mat
An appealing doormat with a design that evokes winter—think snowflakes, cardinals, or snowmen—is a cost-effective way to add a cheerful touch and protect your floors at the same time.
Related: Welcome Home: 11 Fresh Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door
Vintage Snow Equipment
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.
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 plant matter with interesting textures and colors. Up the drama with string lights to take your porch to the next level. Not only will the street view be beautiful, but the view from inside will be pretty dreamy too.
Don’t pack up the hanging baskets just because winter’s arrived. Fill them with evergreen branches for a simple but effective pop of color near the front door.
Related: 12 Easy Ways to Create Curb Appeal in Winter
February, though it's the shortest month, can seem interminable—but it's also the month of love. Once the holiday 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 make things brighter.
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. You may not want to sit there in the cold, but it makes for a cozy scene.
A door basket is a simple and versatile accessory that can be easily refreshed 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.
An empty wall practically begs for a piece of art, 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.
Ready-made wreaths are always an option, but why not grab a glue gun and make 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 plain for a more contemporary look.
Related: The 50 Best Products for Surviving Winter
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!