June 18, 2015

Porch Life

Welcome to the Summer Cottage Garden Party hosted by Brenda at Cozy Little House. When she emailed me about participating I thought it would be the perfect time to finally do a before and after of our porch project. Trips to Missouri and North Carolina and an inordinate amount of rain almost made it impossible to join in but then yesterday the clouds parted and it all came together.

For as long as I can remember, way before I ever had a place to call home, I dreamed of owning a house with a front porch and white picket fence. Growing up I lived in apartments, a mobile home, rented houses, several times with relatives and for one particularly traumatic period, a motel. There was never a sense of security or a real place to call home. It's pretty easy to see why my home, why making a home for my family, is so important to me now.

This house had the white (peeling paint) picket fence when we bought it and while it had a porch, it was enclosed and I didn't give a lot of thought to opening it up right away. I actually was a bit conflicted on the subject. Now, I'm not quite sure why that was. Not only did we open it up, but we moved the entrance from the driveway side to the front which made the space much more usable. Before you had to walk through the sitting area which made it impossible to arrange furniture. Honestly we rarely used it other than to play the occasional game of trouble on the porch daybed. The cats LOVED it though and have not quite recovered from the loss.

Before and during:

Those brick steps that used to lead to the door were crumbling due to age and severe winters. In true Kershner fashion, we thought instead of replacing the steps, why don't we just rip out the porch and open it up?! I'm not sure what's wrong with us but thank goodness we don't have any sense. A year later and I still cannot quite figure out how my Sweet Man performed this porch magic and I'm so impressed with his hard work and attention to detail. This was a back breaking job. Demo-ing, tile scraping, jack hammering, more jack hammering, hauling, lifting, measuring, cutting, dragging, digging, nailing, metal roof installing. My guy did almost all of it on his own with only occasional help and tools from friends, neighbors and a brother. I was more the help where I can, clean up, paint and design girl. And let me be honest. Not all of this project went smoothly. There were some disagreements on design and when I feel strongly about a design element, I CANNOT back down. Luckily those things I fought for, he eventually agreed to and now admits that they are important parts of the overall look.

 When you spend your whole life dreaming of a front porch, you have a pretty strong idea of what you want!

The gardens are slowly coming along. We relocated all of the boxwood to this bed under the window. That's my studio there and I love looking out here now. There used to be a big tree in this bed but one day I sweet talked my guy into chopping it down so I could have more natural light in the studio. No regrets!

This bed is filled with Green Velvet boxwood (my favorite), phlox, agastache, lambs ear, astilbe and obedient plant.

The bed in front of the porch actually wraps around the entire driveway side of the house. The porch part is filled with Agastache, sedum, phlox and coneflowers as well as several plants that didn't survive the winter. I don't know about you but I get very upset when I lose a perennial. I'm a learn as I go girl with all things and I still have much to learn about gardening. There is still a lot of planting that needs to be done but since we have a lot of flower beds and I have ripped out almost everything we started with, it's a slow, expensive process. Luckily I'm very patient.

For some reason the outside of the house on the front porch is finished with hardie plank siding, whereas the rest of the house has vinyl siding in a light greyish green. We tried and failed to get the porch paint color matched to the siding and ended up just painting the house the same color white that we used for all of the trim. I could not find a single picture of a house finished this way but my instincts insisted this was the route to go. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out and it gives us a little glimpse into what the house will look like one day (fingers crossed) when we side the entire thing in white hardie plank!

Of course I was crazy excited to decorate the front porch. I started the planning before he even took down a wall. I couldn't be happier with the way it came together. You can see it's not a very big space but it makes up for it in cozy charm. We have already enjoyed countless meals here. Even when our girl is gone and we have a prime opportunity for a date night, we find ourselves having drinks and dinner on the porch. Why leave? I feel like I'm on vacation every day. Well, you know, except for that pesky cooking and cleaning thing.

 A little bit of detail for you.

Time passes differently on the porch and I learned really quickly that I need a clock out there. I'd happily sit and swing, read and relax right through dinner time.

 I love that I can see these fresh flowers through the family room window but they are safe from nosy kitties.

I get a lot of comments about these plates. Not all of them positive! ;) I absolutely LOVE them and think they add just the right amount of whimsy. Or weirdness. Your pick. Either way, I'm decorating for me!

The other thing that gets the most comments is probably our aqua door. I think everybody in the Village knows the house with the aqua door. I remember when I first painted it, I wasn't quite sure about it and I clearly remember that Emma did not approve of it one.little.bit. Now we all love it and can't imagine it any other way. And our fun little crank doorbell where before there was just a hole, completes the look. We still need to paint the floor grey, put a second coat of paint on the rails and get a new door knob. Actually that doorknob situation wasn't bothering me at all until I saw these pictures! I'll eventually get around to the rest of it but it sure is hard to get motivated when all you want to do is lay on the glider, read and drink lemonade.

I showed you what it looked like before and during opening up the porch, but now let's get in the way back machine and see what it looked like when we first moved in.

Shudder. Who thought any of that was a good idea? Also, how many shades of green do we need on one house?

Thank goodness for vision and talented husbands. He really didn't love this house when we first moved in. Well, honestly I didn't either but I knew I could make it what we wanted. Four+ years later we all love it so much and can't imagine living anywhere else. I'm so grateful for my Sweet Man's unending patience, skill and confidence in my crazy ideas. That guy. He's a keeper. A man of many talents!

A little peek so that you can see that the ceiling is haint blue because no southern girl (even a transplanted one) worth her salt, would have it any other way!

And one last look because I still get a thrill every single time I see it. Whenever I come home or walk out the door it gives me joy. We love all the positive feedback we've gotten from friends, neighbors and strangers. Not only have we improved our curb appeal, we've improved our quality of life! I love the idea that years from now our grandchildren and great grandchildren will look at this porch and know that their grandfather built it.

Now feel free to visit the other ladies on the tour! I'm excited to get inspired from them.

Brenda at Cozy Little House
Kris at Junk Chic Cottage
Carolyn at Aiken House and Gardens
Carol at Art and sand
Rue at An Old-Fashioned World
Su at Butterfly & Bungalow
Cathy at My 1929 Charmer
Courtney at Golden Boys and Me
Jane at Blondie's Journals

June 10, 2015

Maddie's Nest

Last week Maddie invited me and Em over for a girls day. She made us an amazing brunch. That's puff pastry, topped with bacon and a cheddar/gruyere/creme fraiche sauce, topped with eggs and chives. Amazing. My girl can cook. And set a lovely table. Then we played a game and watched The Help and ate Minnie's Chocolate Pie that I brought for dessert. Those of you who have seen The Help will remember the significance of Minnie's pie.

It was a perfect day. I love spending time with my girls. I am so grateful for them and for my relationship with them as well as their relationship with each other.

Within minutes of walking in the door, Emma was asking Maddie if she could come stay for a day or two. Eight years apart but always the best of friends and I know that will just continue to grow for them. I'm so envious of their sisterhood.

Maddie's apartment is unlike any college girl's apartment I've ever seen. I immediately feel at home there. That might be a combination of the fact that so many things in her apartment used to live in my house, plus the fact that we love the same things. It's so great. Except when it's not, like when we are antiquing together. She is still bragging about the blue mirror in her bedroom that she snatched right out from under my nose and the chenille throw on her bed that she bought before I could. It's okay though. I just remind her about my vintage quilts and it shuts her right up! ;)

Emma made herself right at home. Who could blame her?

I love the colorful details everywhere. I love that I see influences of home everywhere I turn. I love that I see projects she has done in my studio. I love that I see cards I have made her over the years and that she surrounds herself with reminders of home.

Because what could be more important than family and home? I think those are two lessons we have instilled in her that have absolutely stuck.

Here's her Wakie Uppie Pillow I made her and underneath is a tablecloth that she patched with some of the cutest embroidery and fabric.

I feel unreasonably proud when I see things like this.

She has turned out to be an amazing young woman. All those lessons that we thought were going in one ear and out the other, stuck! I want to give you Mommas, that might be struggling with a hard parenting phase, hope. There was a particular point in her teenage years when I wasn't sure what was going to become of our girl. Those days were stressful and filled with worry and heartache.

But now here we are and I couldn't be more proud. She is thoughtful, respectful, grounded and beautiful inside and out. She still occasionally has to learn a lesson the hard way but God knows she got that trait honestly.

People tell us all the time how alike we are and I think that is one of the greatest compliments I could receive. Fortunately she thinks so too. I think the comparison secretly makes her happy.

Maddie works really hard. She goes to school full time and is finishing up her psychology degree, works two jobs, has a boyfriend of almost 5 years and always makes time for her family.

This girl did not take to independence as naturally as others. We had to push her out of the nest and there were people who weren't shy about voicing their opinions on that subject. We live in a time of helicopter parenting but that has never been our style. We don't believe in doing for our girls what they can do for themselves. I always say that I am raising adults not children. I don't want my children living at home and unable to fend for themselves well into their 20's. Or 30's. Ahem. So we gave her a deadline and it was a bumpy adjustment but she has been gone for 2 1/2 years now and has come into her own. She knows that no matter what happens in her life, she can take care of herself. She gained the confidence she needed. I think that is particularly important for girls. She also knows without any doubt that she always has a home to come back to in an emergency.

Plus she gets to live her days in the cutest apartment in the world with the weirdest, most intense, unpredictable, neurotic cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.