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Say ‘welcome’ with freshened up porch, home

With the cold days of winter gone – or at least nearly so – home and style guru Katernia Cole-Coffey is encouraging home owners to throw open those front doors and say “Welcome spring!”

Before welcoming the season or any springtime visitors, however, now is the time to create an inviting space to welcome them into, both indoors and out – starting with the front porch.

“A front porch is a room in itself, and it needs to be decorated,” said Cole-Coffey. People have been cooped up so long, between coronavirus restrictions and winter weather, Cole-Coffey said the time is ripe to focus on enjoying one’s outdoor spaces. “It tells your personality, in a sense. The exterior is just as important as the interior … This is a way you can express yourself.”

Depending what atmosphere someone wants to bring to their front porch, a range of furniture, decor and plant options can be used to send just the right message.

Before setting the stage, however, Cole-Coffey recommends starting with a good cleaning.

From a broom to knock down cobwebs and brush away dust and leaves, to a hosepipe and simple cleaning solution to blast away the winter grime, it doesn’t take much to put the sparkle back in a porch, patio or carpet.

Then it’s time to furnish and decorate.

“In order for it to be relaxing, you have to put a little effort into it,” Cole-Coffey said.

A seating area is a good way to anchor an outdoor space, whether it’s a bench with colorful cushions, a porch swing, a few cozy rockers or even a table and chairs for outdoor meals or coffee dates.

With big furniture in place, next up are live touches. “It’s good to place pots and hanging baskets on your front porch,” said Cole-Coffey, who grew up with her mother’s love for ornate iron planters – versatile for use throughout the year, holding topiary pumpkins, Christmas wintergreens and cheery springtime flowers alike.

Resetting for spring might also require repainting outdoor furniture or other elements of the house. Cole-Coffey said a fresh coat of paint can work wonders on faded wrought iron furniture, as well as doors, window frames and more.

“Paint is one of the cheapest ways to spruce up your home,” she said. “You can paint your front door, shutters, trim or siding to make it cheerful and colorful. If you don’t like the color you’ve painted it, you can change it.”

Other ways to breathe life into an outdoor space include adding a new rug, cushions or doormats. Homeowners can also consider changing out hardware like door handles.

This is also the time to pressure wash sidewalks, clean out gutters and prune and mulch landscaping, as well as plant new flowers and shrubs. “It just brightens your day,” said Cole-Coffey. “It makes it pretty.”

Final touches might be seasonal decor, like a wreath. “A wreath on the front door helps to add color and make your front door say ‘welcome,’” Cole-Coffey said.

Of course, it can be easy to get carried away.

“Anytime you’re doing anything like this, set a budget of how much you want to spend,” Cole-Coffey advised. “A lot of the outdoor furniture, you can go to estate sales or yard sales and pick up those items at a really good price.”

When it comes to the interior of the home, many of the same principles for refreshing the space apply – including starting with a good cleaning.

“When I was growing up, it was a bucket of warm water, some type of cleaning solution and an old cloth,” said Cole-Coffey. Add the vacuum cleaner, a broom and a mop, and there are the essential tools for getting one’s home spick and span – those, plus a little elbow grease.

Cole-Coffey said spring cleaning is a good time to pay attention to areas of the home that don’t always get the best TLC. Consider scrubbing baseboards, vacuuming and flipping mattresses, dusting light fixtures and washing windows.

In the kitchen, wipe down cabinetry and clean behind the oven and refrigerator. In the bathroom, wash or replace bathmats and shower curtains, along with scrubbing tile and inspecting for mold.

Although some people will be happy doing their own sprucing up for spring, Cole-Coffey said hiring a local professional is always option for those tasks or projects one can’t or doesn’t want to do themselves. From a landscape designer to a housekeeper to a general handyman, plenty of service providers are willing to tackle any kind of home maintenance task.

“You can tell them, this is what I need, this is what I would like done,” Coley-Coffey said.