Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Made in the Shade

We are getting a beautiful snow; big wet flakes sticking to everything including this little guy.  Today I'm dreaming of summer and shade needs. I've copied some beautiful examples of porch curtains. Porch curtains provide shade, block the wind and rain - something we'll be longing for in less than five months!

Our front porch
Our back porch

The first two are from my front and back porch.  Nothing terrible exciting or elegant, but, they do the trick.  The front porch curtains are on the West and the value is shade from the very hot western sun.  The back porch curtain is mostly protection from easterly summer rains.  The back porch curtain is made from some unknown indestructible fabric I bought years ago on sale.  I never take it down in the winter and it's still "hanging in there".  The front porch curtains are white cotton.  These come down in the winter because the freezing moisture would break the fibers.
In a populated neighborhood, porch curtains add privacy.  Create the right setting on a porch and it becomes another living space.  Curtains can also hide an unpleasant view without blocking the benefits of being outside. 

Use sturdy metal curtain rods or fashion your own from pipe.  It should be a material that doesn't rust.  They need to be very durable because the wind will pull the curtains, rain makes the curtains heavy and the rod needs to be anchored tightly.   

I prefer metal hoops to thread on the rods.  They slide easily and quickly.  Gathered or fabric tabs tend to stick in damp weather.  My back porch ones are gathered tightly because I never want to move them.  My front porch curtains are on metal shower curtain hoops because I like to pull them back when I'm not using.

I like to have tie backs to hold the curtains back when not needed or when the wind gets so bad it nearly rips the curtains off the rod.  I've sewn my tiebacks out of material, put hoops on the ends and use a cup hook to secure.  Fade resistant ribbon, jute string, bungee cords, chain, or anything sturdy will do.

  The fabric should be fade resistant and fairly durable.  Sunbrella canvas is one of the best known outdoor fabrics.  It sheds moisture (helping keep mildew down) and is nearly fade resistant.  It is costly.

I like fabric that can be washed or hosed down.  They get terribly dirty, will mildew if they don't dry quickly and insects can leave tracks.  I like curtains on both the outside and inside of the screened porch because of wind.  It keeps it from blowing so much.  Where there's no screen, one layer is enough. 

Some porches have curtains only as a decorative feature; simply for looks.  I like mine for functionality; second is the beauty.   

If cost is an issue, check out discount fabric shower curtains.  Don't use plastic because the sun will do nasty things to them.  Most fabric shower curtains are mildew resistant, have metal hoops for hanging, come in plain and crazy bright patterns, most are wide and long.  If they're too short, buy another panel and sew a strip to the bottom.  

Bright colors and patterns can add zip and zing to an otherwise blah porch.  Plain fabric can cool and calm on a hot day.  Bright colors will eventually fade.  Plain light fabric will show spots.

And on this really snowy day, how about a little "Walk of Life" to set your feet dancing and your mind on the possibilities of summer.  



  1. You did a good job decorating your porch, Diane. And I must agree, putting some curtains can create a sense of privacy to your porch. But if you're going to use it as a block or shade, be sure that you replace it regularly as the moisture that it would hold could create a bad effect with your porch frame, especially if it's made of wood.


  2. Thanks Angelina. I take my cotton ones down in the fall, wash and store until spring. The hard winters up here would certainly be hard on material curtains and the wood. Your site has some beautiful decks.

  3. Thank You! I was considering not moving back to my childhood home because I was afraid I would never have privacy on my big front porch!

  4. Thanks ATS, There are always ways around the privacy issue if you love a place enough. Lattice can help if you want something more perm. Enjoy the childhood home.