Friday, July 16, 2010

Starting from the Front

Since our closing our awesome builder/friend installed some shutters to the sides of both sets of windows on the front of our house, painting them a dark navy to match our front door. These helped the look of the house so much and really gave it a more finished appearance. They've been too good to us!

Moving into the house we were lucky enough to be able to start with a good amount of furniture and household items due to Tim living on his own back in college and me living solo during the short 9-month tenure of my first job. Something neither of us had were rocking chairs and what proper front porch doesn't have rocking chairs?

After moving into the house in November and with a pretty cold winter we really didn't have much focus upon the front porch, then spring arrived. The warming of the air and blooming of everything around us not only brought on my seasonal allergies but with them came an itch to start making that porch more functional and our house appear more lived in. This slight itch became too strong to ignore after walking sleepy-eyed into the kitchen wearing nothing more than my pajamas, grabbing a refreshing glass of OJ out of the fridge and glancing up to see a woman peering into our front windows. Luckily she seemed to be just as shocked as I was and I became absolutely determined to make our house look much more lived in rather than a model home after that lovely experience with our very own peeping Tom.

Lucky for us we had a Home & Garden shower a few weeks after my unexpected morning visitor and not only did we receive some excellent kitchen tools, garden tools and fabulous Home Depot gift cards but Tim's parents went in with his brother and sister-in-law to get us....rocking chairs! Beautiful, white, classic chairs that were made for front porch sittin' and sweet tea sippin'. I couldn't have been more excited, in fact I was a little disappointed that we couldn't fit them into Tim's car to take them home and place them on the porch that very night.

Now that I had my chairs I could tackle the flower boxes I had been pondering over. I took my sister off to Home Depot and invested in some boxes, potting soil and a few different resilient looking plants. $100 later I was using some of my fancy new gardening gloves and trowel (also picked up from our shower, we've got great friends and family right!?!) to plant and install our new boxes. It took about two more trips in the following week to get enough potting soil but finally we were up and running. I've killed the plants a few times but somehow they keep coming back for more.

Next up was a table to put in between the chairs because what good does that big glass of sweet tea do you if  you don't have anywhere to put it while you rock. I searched all over for an iron table that wasn't too big or too small, too high or too low and found a great little side table at Pier 1. It wasn't the aged brown color I was looking for but the style, size and price were perfect so it was sold. Pier 1 is a place I always forget about until I walk in the door and discover just how much I like their stuff again. You can't really go wrong with their prices either. I even found a nifty little hook I could screw into our front door to hang wreaths on as the 3M hooks I used over Christmas are not such a great match to the great outdoors. Lets just suffice it to say that our front porch looked like a murder scene after our red wreath was blown down in a rainstorm and proceeded to bleed all of its dye for the next couple of hours.

Due to another excellent gift card to Amazon I was able to get a nice little spring-ish wreath that could carry through the summer (well it is going to at least), added a wide ivory ribbon to it for hanging purposes and voila no more model home look.

Throughout the summer I've been finding little knick-knacks to add to the porch; a welcome mat from Target, a moss-covered terra cotta pot from Pottery Barn complete with a plant I've been assured that I cannot kill, outdoor throw pillows from Restoration Hardware and some decorative birds from Crate and Barrel and Mast General Store. It looks homey and Tim and I have even eaten supper out there, well we started to until the mosquitoes got too bad.

Although it may sound like we have this "room" pretty much wrapped up, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve that I want to get taken care of...

Things we have left to do here:

1.   Add some house numbers above the entry - although we already have numbers on our mailbox, with a new house being built next door ending our residency of being the only house on the street I think its about time to add that on for a little more recognition. I'm thinking of something along these lines...they are pretty inexpensive but I haven't found any that I really love just yet and as a rule I won't buy anything unless I have to have it.

2.   Install an iron railing - not only will it help to define the space a little more but would be extremely helpful when it gets icy and will help us with the resale of our house. Our neighborhood has a nice mix of age groups but we live in the section that the retired folks seem to prefer and retired folks like safety, hence the handrails.

3.   Get some weathered Terra Cotta pots and more unkillable plants for the base of the steps -  We've got this pencil sticky plant thing right next to the steps that around February I could've sworn to you was a goner but it came back about 2 months later and although it is thriving right now I keep waiting for it to re-kick the bucket. I want to replace it with a planter, along with one to match for the other side with the idea that its a lot less noticable when I kill those then my pencil plant is when it dies again (and yes when, not if). Pottery Barn has some that I am adoring right now but the $169/pot price tag is a little bit of a kill-joy for that one. I'm hoping to save up a little and grab them right as they go on sale a little later in the summer. Here's to hoping they don't sell out first!

4.  Get some planters and more unkillable plants to place beside the front door - Yes, I may be harping on that whole "unkillable" thing a little too much but if you knew me and my black thumb you'd get it. I found some unbelievable (and again unaffordable - be prepared for the reoccuring theme of my life) through Aiden Gray. They are $450 and I haven't really figured out just yet if that is for the set or just for one, regardless these will remain a pipe-dream unless some miraculous twist of fate lands them upon my porch. Doubtful but a girl can dream right?

5. Add in a ceiling fan - I'm not so sure how we can do this since I was smart enough to request a can light over the rocking chair area of our porch but having a fan to create a little breeze would make the porch so much more comfortable and user-friendly. There has to be a kit that lets you do it and we will be exploring that as we move into our home improvement phase. I want something pretty basic that can handle the weather but that looks like an outdoor fan, not like I'm trying to bring the indoors out. Maybe adding a cage around the light to make it look a little more rough & tough would do the trick! This Emerson fan and light kit are close to what I like but maybe with just 1 light rather than 3.


6. Upgrade the doorbell -This should be a pretty quick, not to mention inexpensive replacement. Welcome to the OCD side of my personality where everything must match but not in the matchy-matchy sort of way. Due to this the doorbell MUST be the dark oil-rubbed bronze so that it aligns with every other part of our home. Sometimes my insistence on all of the particulars exhausts myself, poor Tim!

7. Last, but certainly not least, an uncertainty about a bench - now this is a purchase I haven't fully committed to the idea of just yet but I do like the idea of it. Plus we stayed at an incredible beach house last weekend where I saw an adorable bench and now want something similar. Just something simple, backless and with a weathered paint job, preferably in the cream family. Ballard Designs has one with potential for only $120 that I'm thinking I could paint pretty easily.I still haven't decided how I'm going to fit this on my relatively small front porch but was thinking of placing it along the railing next to the front door. I need to do some measuring first (learned this after the porthole purchase mishap, a story for another day).

Here are some pictures of our handi-work thus far:

A little bit of everything.

Comfy pillows make for longer relaxing...
until the mosquitoes come break up the party...

Still enough room to put my glass & my plate.

Not only is it staying alive but it also blooms!

The more successful basket (and the wrap of our new neighbors house).
We can stare at each other through our kitchen windows, yay.

Overhead view, this reminds me that we need to mulch...

The entry of the porch along with the pencil plant.

My spring wreath thats rockin' its way through summer...