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First Impressions

Story by Courtney Sullivan Photography by Jeremy Bachuss & Amanda Cross

Story by Courtney Sullivan

Photography by Jeremy Bachuss

& Amanda Cross

A porch can say a lot about what's on the inside of a home. Whether it is a reflection of the owner's favorite football team, the decor throughout the house or simply the family that lives inside â ¦ porches are a great first impression.

Kim Carr is a strong believer in this philosophy. She has been decorating porches for friends and family for years. She has an annual Halloween party to which the entire neighborhood is invited. Not only is the inside of her home full of tricks and treats, her front porch is always inviting so that any trick or treater, young or old, feels like they should walk up her front steps and right inside. Carr likes to make every porch that she decorates feel this way.

"Fall is my favorite!" says Carr. She says that it is easy to find things around your house that represent who you are; she says to start with what you already have. "You don't always have to go and buy things."

Take the Stricklin home for example. This side porch is full of fun ways to incorporate family memories and furry friends. The old bicycle was one of the only things kept from Toni's uncle's shed after he passed away. "I thought it was really special that my dad saved my uncle's bike."

When Carr presented her with the opportunity to decorate her side porch, Stricklin couldn't resist using this nostalgic bicycle as part of the decor. Also incorporated on this side porch are rain boots, umbrellas, daisies, lanterns and more.

"Don't forget about your other doors." Carr says that you can plant flowers that come back annually and just use them when they have bloomed again. You can also pick flowers from your backyard -- not everything has to be bought new. It is an efficient way to have fresh flowers in your entryway without buying new flowers each year.

Mums are sometimes not in season, but you want a pop of color. Use fall picks to spruce up some of your ferns and add decorative pillows for color to a front porch sitting area.

Color can be an easy way to not only make your porch pop, but add a welcoming feel to your home. "Just adding lanterns and pillows is easy." Not only do picks add color when mums aren't yet in season, but they also make it easy to change your porch decor from season to season. When fall is coming to an end and you are ready for some holiday cheer, switch your fall picks out for holly berries and magnolia leaves. This is an easy way to change from fall fun to holiday hostess.

The Faulkner porch for example. They have used fall picks and orbs to dress up their black urns.

This look can quickly change by adding winter season picks and greenery instead. Not only can these picks be easily swapped out for something more "red and green" but the beautiful bench can be warmed up and made cozy with a change of pillows and a fluffy blanket or two.

The lanterns on this porch are seasonally universal and can keep making an impression all year long. In the fall, candles are a great way to invite guests right up the steps and through the front door. When winter comes calling it is easy to fill lanterns with magnolia leaves or holly berries to add some Christmas spirit. Once spring has sprung, fill with wild flowers and colorful Easter Eggs to make sure your guests hop on by. The Blythes porch includes lanterns with candles that can be easily be lit up with the flip of a switch. Using battery operated candles is an easy way to make sure your decor is simple, safe and suitable for anyone. There are unlimited ways to utilize any kind of container or vase you use on your porch. As long as the greenery and the decor fall within the season, you can't go wrong!

The Cox family porch is a super simple way to celebrate with your football loving friends. Stick your favorite team's sign in your yard and put a beautiful dip la denia plant next to it. "I love incorporating teams," says Carr. She also added boxwoods to this front porch to add some contrast. With a neutral colored house it is easy to brighten it up with boxwoods and even artificial plants with lights. This is an easy way to light up your porch or your walkway. Again, when mums aren't in season, using a light boxwood is an easy way to layer your plants so that you create an entrance your guests love to walk up to.

Layering is a great way to make a porch come to life. When there are steps and platforms to play with, the possibilities are endless.

Using a mixture of pumpkins and lanterns and ferns and flowers ensures that people will have to take a second glance. When there are things on the porch that are worth looking at, people will look -- trust me! Adding funky pieces like an artistic bench or a quilted pumpkin are great ways to have your porch, even your entire house, noticed!

If you are wanting to add decorations to your porch but don't know where to start, Carr suggests you use things that you find around your house that define who you are as a family. If you are a huge football fan, show your team spirit. If you love Halloween and trick or treating, make it a place that "trick or treaters" feel welcome all year round, not just Oct. 31. Put a cute ghost or a funky pumpkin on those front steps; these decorations will leave people DYING to come inside! If you feel like the holiday season can't get here soon enough, go ahead and add greenery from your magnolia tree to your urns and scrounge up some red ribbon from last year. Starting with what you already have is usually the easiest way to decide what your porch should look like. If you still can't imagine a great first impression for your home, drive around the neighborhood, get inspired!

Paducah is full of inspiration. The Lower Town arts district is a great place to get your creative juices flowing, a walk through Noble Park is sure to inspire your outdoor decor. If you love the lake, let people know it. There are no rules or restrictions on how to spruce up your front steps, just start and see where you end up.

Most of the time, the first impression is the longest lasting -- make your porch an impression no one can forget! n

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