Three Season Porch Design Plans

Perhaps my favorite thing about our new home is the gorgeous knotty pine-paneled three season porch in the back. A porch like this was high on my “wants” list when house hunting, and I am so thankful we are able to have that dream come true!

Three Season Knotty Pine Porch / BEFORE
Taken during our showing, staged for selling

When I found out that our offer was accepted, I instantly started dreaming of what to do with this porch. There are a couple obvious updates required: the carpet is old and worn, and the ceiling fan is too small and dated.

The other big piece for us is the fact that it was only a 3 season porch so couldn’t be used year round- we live in Minnesota, so heat is absolutely required! This room was too good to be shut off from the rest of the house for the 6-7 months of the year that require heat, so we knew that we had to figure out a way to add heat.

I initially dreamed of painting all of the walls, thinking that the knotty pine paneling was dated and heavy. I Pinned so many images of painted paneling… completely white, white walls with pine ceiling, white ceiling with pine walls, you name it!

However, our goal with this home was to live in it for a couple of months and not touch a thing. We wanted to learn what worked, what didn’t, what might grow on us, what absolutely needed to be changed.

The previous owners were kind enough to offer to leave the rattan furniture. Although it’s not exactly my style, it is actually VERY comfortable and we wouldn’t have had anything to furnish it with otherwise, so we are grateful!

The wraparound windows in the porch featured the bright green leaves and grass around the porch in the summer, which turned into cool fall days with gold, red and brown leaves, which turned into our very own snowglobe in the winter. We learned that the wood feels inviting in the morning, and warm and cozy at night. It’s the perfect space to sip coffee and read a book, do some work at the table, or to have a glass of wine and play cribbage. (Yes, those are all real things I’ve done in there, haha) Over time, we learned the perhaps the wood doesn’t need to be changed at all!

It could always be painted or restained in the future, but once it’s done it would be almost impossible to go back to the original look. Plus, I feel like painting would be the “easy way out”- it’s kind of a fun design challenge to update this space in other ways and make it feel modern yet cozy.

Design Plans

As I already mentioned, there are three priorities here: replace the fan, the flooring, and add heat. The existing ceiling fan was only 40″, so I knew we needed to go at least 12″ larger to improve the scale. I found a 52″ matte black ceiling fan that fits perfectly and offers a modern, minimalistic vibe.

Flooring

For flooring, we knew that carpet was not going to be a practical choice. The door leads to the backyard and it’s where we let Dexter in and out everyday, and someday when we have kids there will be dirty little shoes coming in and out all day. We also did not want to add any more wood in here, so wood flooring was out. That left tile! I wanted to stick to natural elements that contrasted with the pine walls, and I found a 12×24 slate tile that we will lay in a unique pattern. We can’t lay it until we install the wood flooring in the rest of the main floor, so it will have to wait until spring!

Adding Heat

We researched baseboard heating, mini-split heaters, and standalone gas fireplaces. Although I would LOVE to incorporate a gas fireplace in here, it’s just not in the budget for now, knowing how much money we have to put into the rest of the house. There wasn’t really a great place for a mini-split, and they’re also $2000-4000. Baseboard heaters were about $50 each and Josh felt comfortable installing them himself. We installed two 72″ heaters, one on each side of the room. They’re in a spot that they will be mostly hidden by furniture so won’t really be an eyesore, like baseboard heaters can be. They’re on their own thermostat, independent of the rest of the house. We’ve seen temps in the teens and it’s still toasty warm in here (I’m sitting in the porch as I write this!).

Adding Texture

My goal with this space is to maintain the warm and cozy feeling, make it a multi-functional space, and ensure that it feels relaxing, lived-in, and tells a story. It’s already the space that everybody loves, and I want to keep it that way… I just want to tie in my own style and incorporate it with the rest of the home.

Three season porch design board // Sima Spaces
Moodboard for our porch design

I want to say first of all that the moodboard above is missing some key elements: accessories! Candles, books, blankets, vases, plants, baskets… all very important elements in adding texture and warmth and personalizing a space. Those will get added in over time after the “big” pieces get installed.

I am pairing plenty of contrasting pieces to add interest and mix textures. Vintage 1980’s Cesca chairs and a 1960’s Turkish rug, a handmade ceramic pendant light from Ukraine, a modern black and brass floor lamp, a walnut wood coffee table and a black wood dining table.

To break up some of the wood on the walls, I found white linen curtains which will be hung on extra long rods that will wrap around the entire porch. The curtains aren’t meant to be functional- they’re just designed to just frame the room. I purchased 6 panels to start but we’ll see if I want more once they go up! I’m planning on putting one at each end of the room and two in the corners to make an “L” shape. I also took down the old blinds and it looks better already!

The black leather chairs were a splurge, but we wanted high quality chairs that would be comfortable and last for years. Our cat is known to destroy almost any fabric upholstery he can get his claws on, so we decided to go with leather for the accent chairs. The chairs have a black strap detail paired with walnut legs, deep seat, and sloped arms. I am anxiously awaiting their delivery!

The sofa is from one of my trade vendors and we chose custom upholstery and a walnut leg finish. We ordered about 10 samples and literally scratched them with a knife to see which ones might stand up to cat claws! Thankfully I think we found a good option in a beautiful light greige color (similar to, but not the color shown above). I wanted a bench seat for a modern look. The walnut sofa legs will tie into the coffee table and the chair legs for a cohesive look.

To add some lighter colors, I went with a unique white side table that will sit to the left of the sofa. I love the detail around the base!

The Dining Area

As I had mentioned, the sellers left the furniture behind for us. We ended up really enjoying the setup that they had, which included a table and four chairs in one corner. We eat, work, and play games at the table. It fits perfectly in the corner and adds extra seating for when we’re able to entertain guests again!

A work in progress: a cozy evening in the porch / Sima Spaces
A hodgepodge of new furniture and Christmas decor with the table ready for a game of cribbage!

The vintage rattan furniture wasn’t really the style or colors I was going for, so I listed it on Facebook Marketplace. I actually found the Cesca chairs on Facebook Marketplace as well. They have an oak-framed cane back and a gold frame, and are currently upholstered in a rust-colored velvet. I am still debating whether or not I will reupholster them- that decision will have to wait until the room is fully installed.

The previous owners also left the plug-in pendant above the table, which is a teal and brown “sea urchin” style. Again, it wasn’t exactly the colors I’m going for, but I loved the ceramic texture. Converting the light to hardwired would be very challenging with the paneling in place, so I had to find another plug-in light. I searched and searched and found an Etsy seller that makes ceramic plug-in pendants. I customized it with a black chain and hook to match the ceiling fan. The light itself is gorgeous- I just need to find the perfect oversized bulb for it now!

In the corner, I hung some watercolor paintings that spoke to me… we absolutely love the mountains and these prints reminded me of our trips to Colorado. I framed them in black gallery frames and hung them with command strips.

Porch corner with new ceramic pendant and vintage prints

Replacing the doors

There is currently an exterior sliding glass door in between the dining room and porch. Now that we have heat in the porch, we can remove that door and replace it with interior-grade french doors. We also need to replace the exterior door as it’s in very rough shape on the outside! For the time being, I think I will paint the interior side so it looks a little better until we decide to replace it. Color is TBD- I’m thinking white or black!

The Timeline

As you can see above, I’m slowly replacing the furniture and swapping out fixtures. Since we have to wait to install the tile until our main floor is done, we want to make this room as functional as we can for the time being, even if it isn’t styled perfectly! I’ll continue to add in the new furniture and decor as it arrives and then will just have to take it all out to do the floor when it’s time. Hopefully it will all be completely done by late spring!

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Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in St. Paul, MN. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio.

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  • Love this space! While I often prefer wood painted, I think your decision here is right on. I bet this is already a favorite room and will only become more beloved as you make it your own.