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Forget the days of the solitary porch swing - today's front porches are hubs of full-fledged outdoor living. With five simple ideas, you can make yours the hottest spot on the block.

1) Extend the garden

"There's nothing like wildflowers to give wonderful sparkle to a porch," says Audrey Long, owner of New Hope, Penn.-based Audrey Long Interior Design. Liz Ryan, owner of Tucson, Ariz.-based Liz Ryan Interior Design, suggests creating a porch garden with oversized pots of perennials.

2) Spin the color wheel

"All the colors for this spring and summer are more alive than they have been," Long says. "Go for something that works with the feeling of the house."

3) Light it right

"Lighting is always a wonderful way to create moods," Ryan says. She likes solar-powered lights - "You get a really soft glow at night," she notes. If your porch has electric outlets, Long says outdoor lamps are a fresh and homey approach to lighting.

4) Stay grounded

"An indoor/outdoor rug to knit your furniture together is absolutely great, and makes the porch feel cozy," Long says, adding that the outdoor rugs on the market are quite durable.

5) Save a seat

Patio furniture has come a long way, Ryan says. "Outdoor fabrics are very textured - like velvets and chenille," she says. "It feels more like living room furniture. The all-weather wicker that is so popular right now is great because it's safe for all of the elements." The most important thing, she says, is to "create an extension of the house; blur the space between indoor and outdoor, making it more like an outdoor room."

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