Monday, June 1, 2009

Amanda Nisbet's Back Porch

Perhaps it's just the fact that it's summer or maybe it's that I'm getting really excited at the prospect of having a covered porch, but lately I find myself saving photo after photo of beautiful outdoor porches. My favorite by far though has to be this gorgeous covered porch that design guru Amanda Nisbet created for the Hampton Designer Showhouse back in 2006. But then again, I'm a sucker for bold graphic prints, just the right shade of purple (on the ceiling!), and artful topiaries.

For all its many wonderful elements, I think the star of this wraparound porch is the purple ceiling, which is such a great counterpoint to all the pale wood finishes in the floor, furniture and even shingled walls. I also love the fat globe topiaries in the woven baskets, which add loads of texture and visual interest -- and some necessary greenery -- we are outside, afterall! Large silver hurricanes and a modern candelabra add ambient lighting at dusk (my favorite time of day).

While I love the look Amanda created by hanging oval mirrors from shipping rope, I can't help but think that in the "real world", you wouldn't want to obscure the view with large mirrors. Besides, don't you want to hang the mirrors so that you're reflecting views of the outdoor landscape? Though of course, if your back porch faces a high fence or another building, oversize mirrors may be just the ticket for not only hiding the ugly view, but expanding cramped quarters.

Art outdoors is always a little tricky'; after all, you hardly want to expose anything expensive or delicate to sun and rain. Amanda's solution here is particularly creative; by hanging bits of coral in grass-cloth shadow boxes salon style, Amanda proves that inexpensive, found objects can make a huge impact. Since I'm reluctant to buy real coral (since you can never be sure of its source), I'd go with artificial pieces instead of the real deal unless you're lucky enough to live near the beach and are able collect bits of dead coral that have washed ashore. Also, note the great detailing in these pillows; I particularly love the purple piping on the larger pillow (which is in the same fun, graphic fabric as the curtains).

Yet another display of coral-turned-art in the second seating area. I love the translucent purple tops on the skinny metal tables. By staying away from matching teak and selecting more modern and industrial tables, Nisbet creates a more interesting and unique look and breaks up all that wood. The metal legs also relate to the large scale silver hurricanes hung like sconces around the porch.

Here, an artfully arranged vignette of seaside ephemera keep the space from looking overly styled and too perfect. I might forgo the large waterfowl though in favor of other nautical nods.

While this gorgeous round mirror (framed in what looks like upcycled metal shingles) is slightly too large for both the wall space and for the console table beneath it, the large scale vase and sunflowers balance it out and make it work. And let's not forget that stunning nautilus chair -- it's practically a piece of art in itself.

Inspired by Amanda's design, I put together a mood board of pieces that could help you achieve a similar look on your own covered porch.

I'd start out by painting the ceiling a similar shade of purple. Crocus Petal Purple by Benjamin Moore, shown in the background in the mood board above, looks like a pretty good match to me. Solid teak benches and chairs like the ones in Amanda's design can be found at most major retailers and come at very reasonable price points. I like these from Target for their solid teak construction and generous proportions. I'd dress them up with custom pillows from Rubie Green and Mod Green Pod. While neither of these organic cotton fabrics is really made for the outdoors, since pillows are easily pulled inside during inclement weather (and would be protected by much of it by the overhang anyway), I figured there's no reason to be restricted by outdoor fabrics here.

On the other hand, I would highly recommend going for outdoor fabrics when selecting curtains since it's unlikely you'll want to be pulling them down and hauling them inside every time there's a storm. Crate&Barrel's
simple ivory panels are well priced and will help balance the bright purple ceiling and colorful fabrics. Taking a cue from Amanda's oceanic accessories, I'd group several starfish together in inexpensive shadow boxes and hang them on the walls. One or two playful crustaceans perched alongside a few vases full of hydrangeas and sunflowers on the modern teak and steel coffee table would lend an element of beachy playfulness without putting you in danger of coming off theme-y.

Clockwise, from top left
Ceramic crustaceans from Ballard Designs, $45
Indoor/Outdoor curtain panel from Crate&Barrel, $79-$109
Ann fabric by Rubie Green ($90/yard)
Grand jubilee fabric in chocolate by Mod Green Pod ($39.75/yard)
Ibiza pedestal table from Smith and Hawken, $279
Carved mango wood stool from ZGallerie, $189.95
Teak Glaser Armchair from Target, $299.99
Teak Glaser 5' Bench from Target, $499.99
Round Dura wicker planter from Target, $24.99
Ivy globe topiary (20' diameter) from Fresh Topiary, $210.37
Set of 15 starfish from ZGallerie, $15.95
Coir boat bumper from Ballard Designs, $45
Arched Metal Lantern from West Elm, $39 & $103


Christy said...

I love everything you've chosen for your mood board - and I agree, that ceiling is a real show stopper. Love it. I think if I had a wrap around porch like this, I'd like to paint the floor white, or even a very pale shade of the same color as the ceiling. I think that would be very pretty! Fabulous post - love all this eye candy...makes me long to be at the beach!

Kara said...

That's my kind of porch and I love the mood board. The lobster and crab are AWESOME!

Style Redux 2 said...

The purple ceiling is fabulous. What a great look this is.

Sarah Klassen said...

Great post~ I love the way they hung the mirrors in between empty spaces and the unique scales of furniture and accessories. Pretty and unique~

annechovie said...

I absolutely love the way Amanda did this porch. The painted ceiling is especially stunning! Thanks for posting this, Averill.

Jamie S. said...

Lovely post!

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

Averill, great post pick. That porch truly is a show stopper. I agree, the purple ceiling is the cherry on top. Your mood board choices are perfect. Great job!

Sanity Fair said...

What a charmer! All that's missing is the lemonade. Why go inside?

Savvy Mode SG said...

i def have to pass this onto my friend, she is trying to get ideas for the backyard area.

A Life More Fabulous said...

I just love the purple ceiling! People rarely use a strong colour in outdoor paint. This is subtle but powerful all at the same time.

My Notting Hill said...

Glad to have found your blog via the Post. Love the mirror and the lantern/sconces against the curtains.

Mary - Front Porch Lover said...

I have learned that blue is a traditional ceiling color for a porch. As if it reflects the sky. Purple is a very interesting and lovely variation on that theme. I really enjoyed how all of these decorative elements - the wall art, the pillows, the ceiling and the snappy large prints in the fabric come together. This is all very charming. Thank you, Amanda

Anonymous said...

interesting, but all i can think of is that this looks like a beach house and a good ocean storm is going to cause major damage, especially with those mirrors!

The Shiny Pebble said...

This is awesome. You have an amazing eye for detail! Also, have you ever been to the little gallery in Kemah? They have fantastic maritime items... none of the kitchy stuff from the other shops there. Unfortunately the name scapes me. Also, the sunbrella fabric's warranty is void once you stamp a designer pattern in it...

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