July 01, 2015

Summer So Far

Thank you all your kindness about our porch project. We are enjoying it as much as possible and I have to say that our summer weather has been my idea of perfect. A lot of people would argue that point with me, I'm sure, but since I don't love the heat and I do love the rain, it's been heaven! So far Mother Nature is taking care of the watering which suits me fine.

I can't believe how far into the summer we are. I'd rather not think about it too hard. I feel like we are just getting started on the break part of the season. As soon as school got out we went on a trip to Missouri and the next weekend we went to North Carolina where we got to meet a long time blog reader, Yvonne.

She is such a special lady. She was crowned the girls' Fairy Godmother quite some time ago. She sends them (and me!) the most thoughtful gifts. She has been doing this for a couple of years now and you know how some people are just gifted at giving? She is one of those. We met for breakfast at Foster's Market in Durham which was the perfect place for us. I wish we could have visited longer and I hope that we will see her again soon. Or maybe she will just move to the Village.

Can you tell the girls loved her? There is just something about her. She felt like home and comfort.

As soon as we got back from NC Emma headed off to writing camp at Butler University (where she hopes to attend one day). She loved it so much and would do things like send me pictures of her drinking her Starbucks while sitting in the lecture hall listening to a professor. Our little Rory Gilmore. The next week she had ballet camp which wrapped up with a performance at a local Senior Center. I was so proud of this girl. After the performance she went up to every single senior there and shook their hands, introduced herself, smiled and talked to them. Really talked to them. This is usually SO far out of her comfort zone but she loved every minute and was the last dancer to leave the area. We've been talking about volunteering at a facility for awhile and this convinced me. She was made it for it. Really the only thing that had been holding us back was not knowing if I could make it through without crying. You might say I'm a little tender hearted. But I surprised myself and now there is nothing holding us back.

We have now entered the part of summer that we love the most. The popsicle eating, reading in a chair hammock part of the summer.

The tubing on the river with friends part of the summer. Have I mentioned that we have the best of both worlds here? We have in-town living in the front and country living in the back which was the perfect compromise for the little girl who would have had us choose a house based solely on whether or not it had a stream in the yard. We act like that river running through the Village is all ours.We can't even help ourselves.

So while the summer might be half over, we still have a lot of living to do in these next weeks. There are still many adventures ahead of us: waterparks to go to, visits from cousins, museum visits, fireworks, movies to see, ice cream cones to be eaten, picnics, lazy days to be had, books to be read and a week at the beach in Michigan. But for now I'm grabbing a book and a cold drink and heading to the porch with my favorite guy!

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