People often tell me they would love to step into the pictures I draw and live in them forever. One favorite is a porch illustration in which a woman whiles away the time in a comfortable chair, watching the world go by.

Even if we can't enter this picture like Alice through the looking glass, we can at least analyze what makes it appealing.Every porch should have at least one chair, preferably a rocking chair. They not only help you get some thinking done, but they subtly pace the conversation with every rock. Paint your rockers in sorbet colors like lime and raspberry for a bit of refreshment on a summer day.

On my imaginary porch, I'd have rustic tables and benches. After all, you need to have a place for lemonade, for stacks of books and all your houseplants, enjoying their summer vacations outdoors. If you don't want to expose your indoor furniture to the elements, consider using a traditional redwood or cedar picnic table and benches, the kind that sit in a forgotten corner of the back yard. Use a colored deck stain to jazz them up with brighter tones.

Now, I have other drawings of porches in my head, and here's how they look. One has a bit of latticework attached directly to the wall dangling with pretty hanging plants. There are striped shades that pull up or down depending on the sun, and they have tiny flower pots hot-glued onto their tabs. I also see a throw rug painted directly onto the floor, using a stencil for the border. My imaginary rug is a garden surrounded by a picket fence, but yours might be a sunburst or a giant flower with "fringe."

To create your own, make sure the floor is really clean, put down the porch enamel first, and paint the picture with acrylics. Then add polyurethane so it won't wear off.

Another fantasy porch has a Western rustic cabin theme. Weathered old cowboy boots serve as planters for cacti; horseshoes decorate the pillars and posts. Sturdy mattress ticking protects pillows. Old steamer trunks and footlockers are perfect for stashing pillows, blankets and magazines when not in use.

There are so many other scenarios: I see wreaths of dried roses hanging from the walls alongside thrift shop botanical paintings and straw hats. A nautical porch is decorated with baskets of seashells, old binoculars and barometers (it doesn't matter if they don't work).

An enchanted children's retreat features flowerpots overflowing with art supplies, wagons as portable lemonade tables and an oversize cork bulletin board for dis-playing summertime artwork. I even see a "formal" porch with a thrift shop chandelier dangling from the ceiling to catch the play of sunlight by day and twinkle by night with a string of tiny white outdoor lights.

Once you start to think about it, you'll have no trouble coming up with your own picture of an ideal porch. This summer, don't just let it sit on the drawing board.