By Erin Huffstetler | 04/01/2019 | 10 Comments
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It’s finally porch-sitting season, so I thought I’d take you guys on a tour of our front porch today. This is how our porch looks now, but that’s not how it’s always looked. Let me show you how it’s evolved over the years.
When we bought our house, this is more or less how it looked. It was a pretty 1920s craftsman hidden under aluminum siding, with almost no landscaping and a badly cracked sidewalk. After living in the house for a few years, we decided to tackle the front yard and porch. It seems insane looking back on it now, but my husband and I decided to strip the front porch of all of its many layers of chippy paints BY. OUR. SELVES. The kids were pretty little at the time, so we were only able to work on it after they went to bed. It took us six months to strip the porch, working on it every night.
We stripped these beautiful columns …
all of this beautiful Craftsman millwork …
all the porch railings …
all the rafter tails and the original wood siding …
and every inch of the 300 sq. ft-beadboard ceiling. It took an insane amount of chemical stripper and an even more insane amount of labor. By the time we finished stripping everything, it was December, and I had to hurry to get a coat of paint and stain on everything. By then, I was working on it every minute I could spare. If it was rainy when I wanted to go out and paint, I set up a tent in the front yard, filled it with Legos, and tucked the kids inside to play. They were happy, and I got to work.
Once all the painting was finally done, we installed two new outdoor ceiling fans. A previous owner had installed indoor ceiling fans, and the blades were sagging after being exposed to many seasons of high-humidity summers.
We also had all of the brick repointed (that’s fancy for putting new mortar into the joints.)
And we hired a contractor to replace the rotten porch floor with ipe. It’s an incredibly dense, rot-resistant wood, so we shouldn’t ever have to replace it. Here in the south, it’s not uncommon to have to replace a pine porch floor ever 10 years. So, we opted to spend more upfront, in the hopes that we’ll never have to pay to have the floor replaced again. And that color that you see, is it’s natural color. It isn’t stained. We just oil it every other year to maintain that color and to keep it protected. This is our forever house, so we tend to favor permanent, low-maintenance solutions, like this, even if they cost more up front.
If you go back to the first photo of our house, you’ll also see that we replaced the front sidewalk and landscaped the front yard. It was a ton of work, but we were thrilled with the results.
And then this happened. In 2011, our neighbor’s hackberry tree fell on our house, and part of it came through that beadboard ceiling that we’d painstaking restored. We were out of our house for 17 months, while we struggled to come up with the money to restore it. That’s a whole other story that you can read about here, but the short version is that even good insurance and a good credit score won’t get you through a disaster like that. But we fought hard, and today our porch is as nice as ever, as is most of the house. (The kitchen still remains unfinished.)
So, now that you know the story of our porch, let’s get on with the tour, shall we?
Our porch is about 300 square feet. It’s nice and deep, so it’s always shady, and you can sit out in the rain, if you want (I love to do that). If you’re standing at the front door, this is what you see when you look right.
And this is what you see when you look left. If you saw an earlier version of this porch tour, you may already be spotting some changes. I’ll be sure to talk about all of those.
A large farm table sits on far end of the right side of the porch. I still can’t believe it, but I managed to score it for $15 at a yard sale. The chairs sitting around it actually belong to another farm table that sits on the other side of the porch. I’ll show you that one in a minute. But first, I want to show you a few things about this one.
See that old writing on the side of the table? I sure wish I knew what it said. This table has to have an interesting story. I just don’t know what it is. A few of you suggested it looked like C B Radison, but so far I haven’t had any luck tracking down that name. I’ll keep digging.
And here’s one of the chairs with its “new” cushion. I came across a set of chair cushion covers that had been made out of old quilts at a yard sale, and paid $1 a piece for them. I told my husband I was on the lookout for some foam to stick inside them. A day or two later, he came back from the garage with a stack of outdoor chair cushions that we’d picked up from a curb pile. They were kind of faded, so we decided to cut them open and reuse the foam. They had nice thick batting inside them, and it was in excellent shape.
After cutting the foam down to size, I now have the perfect chair cushions for our farm table.
Now, allow me to turn your attention to the stuff on top of the table …
This is a hub from a wagon wheel. We snagged it at a yard sale for $1.
The center offers the perfect hiding spot for our stash of drink coasters.
We rescued this garden cloche from a free box at a thrift store. It has a crack in one side, which doesn’t matter a bit to me.
And this carved wooden pineapple came from a yard sale. I think I paid $7 for it.
The stained glass window hanging behind the table was another rescued piece. I believe it was once part of a larger church window. I scooped it up at an auction for $20. It didn’t have a frame at the time, which is why it was so cheap. My dad built a frame for it, and now it has a place of honor on our porch.
This wicker chair and foot stool is one of my favorite reading spots. I picked it up at the grand opening of a thrift store for $20. Can you believe that? Such a steal. I added the vintage mattress ticking pillows. I pick them up whenever I come across them at estate sales for a reasonable price.
And here’s the front door in all its restored glory. I had to strip about a dozen coats of paint off of it before I could stain it. Totally worth it, though. Most of the windows still have their original wavy glass.
The bench sitting next to the front door came from a church fundraiser auction. My mother-in-law had the winning bid, but gave it to me because she knew I liked it. It was rose colored when we brought it home. I took advantage of a free sample paint promo and repainted it.
The little antique, wood chest sitting next to the bench was another curb rescue. My neighbor pulled it out of a curb pile, used it for a while; and then put it back out at the curb. I ran across the street to claim it, as soon as I saw her put it out. She added the burlap to the sides of the chest, which I really like. I currently use it to house some of my most-used garden tools.
Here’s my second-farm table. It came with the four chairs that I showed you earlier. Fittingly we found it at a porch sale, and paid just $75. Quite the deal, since it still had its original chairs with it.
The benches in front of the table are curb finds that I repainted. They’re actually end tables from a set of that red patio furniture that everyone had in the 80s. Sometimes it’s amazing what a little paint will do. I have two more that I’ll be adding as soon as I get a chance to paint them.
This porch swing came with the house. I painted it when we bought the house 15 years ago, and made it cozy with more vintage mattress ticking pillows.
We recently added the shutters behind the swing to create a privacy screen on that side of the porch. An unpleasant neighbor situation was causing us to use the front porch less, so this was our solution. The wood shutters came from a curb pile in front of an old house that was being restored, and they ended up being the perfect size for our needs. My husband just had to trim an inch off of the bottom of each one. I plan to paint the shutters to match the porch ceiling.
I still need to find a new spot for the metal sculpture that used to hang behind the swing. It’s another curb find.
This bottle tree sits in one of the corners behind the swing. It’s a handmade coat rack that we found in a curb pile last year. I initially thought we’d use it as a craft show display piece, but it somehow evolved into a bottle tree. I still need to find another five or six bottles for it.
The shutter pedestal that used to live in front of one of the columns is currently tucked in the other corner behind the swing. I still need to find something to stick on top of it, but this is what it used to look like. It’s another curb find.
A little cedar bench that the girls made now sits in front of the column.
This plant stand is a newer addition to the porch. I made it from a curb-shopped drawer and an old aquarium stand that my mother-in-law gave us. Now, I just need to find some shade-loving plants to tuck inside it.
Here’s one of our fern hanging baskets. My husband found an easy way to overwinter ferns, so these are the same ones we had last year.
But you know what’s even easier? Fake plants.
After years of trying to keep plants alive in the concrete planters that sit on either side of our porch steps, and several more years of just leaving the planters empty, we finally bought some fake aborvitae for that spot (read more about that here). We couldn’t be happier with the way they look. We get compliments on them all the time, and people are always shocked when we tell them they’re fake.
And if you’re curious how the front of our house looks at different times of the year, here’s a picture taken at the end of March.
Well, that officially wraps up the porch tour. If you’d like to see the rest of our house, be sure to check out our home tour here.