the best kind of welcome

We’ve been here at this little house I affectionately call “The Cottage” for four years now, and if you’ve read here for any period of time you know there are a few before & afters!

Although it’s been a long time (perhaps years?!) since the last one, ones are still remaining are
the Front Porch (which was just finished up this summer and I’ll show in this post),
the Master Bedroom,
the Kids’ Bedroom,
the Back Patio (completed just this summer as well),
the Master Bath,
and the music room-turned-school room.
Also in the near horizon is the finishing of the attic into two studio-style bedrooms!

Anyone who is a homeowner, especially the owner of an house built in 1906, knows that the work is never really done. Sometimes that’s okay, and it’s fun to see the progress. Other times? It becomes discouraging and a rental sounds appealing!

But for now, we continue to work at The Cottage, and our front porch is a place we finished up this spring and use almost daily. Here we go!

// before, spring of 2010 //

The pillars were being prepped for painting, thus the scraping, but you can see the green paint from the trim color of the pillars and windows from before, then covered with grey.

It had pretty bones to it – the square pickets, the wood columns with a brick base, the wood floor. It just needed some work.

cottage porch before

front porch before

// windows with green trim and storm windows //
windows before

So after we bought the Cottage, we painted the house and the trim, but the left the floors as they were for some time. I thought I liked the old patina of the floors, and that it added to the cottage-y feel I wanted. It certainly did add to the old feel. :) And this is how we had it for several years.

// a red bench (found at an junk shop that was purple that I painted red to match the front door).
two old chairs Ben found in the, um, dumpster.
windows that were hung on the ends of the porch to create a “room” feel.
curtains hung on bamboo rods. //

August, 2010 015

I liked it fine, and we used it often.
But this year my husband decided it was time to paint the old floors, and to finish the trim around the pillars (see picture above). Some of the wood was rotted on the floor and around the bottom of the pillars, and some was gone altogether.

So we (meaning, my husband) began by replacing the steps that were nearly falling down. The entire project from start to finish was not an easy Saturday project. It took several Saturdays, two weeks with no front steps, and a couple of evenings until midnight. It just how this kind of thing goes when you’re trying to DIY.

Pink Cupcake Onesie 029 making the steps

the front steps needed to be replaced

Choosing a color for the floor was extremely difficult.
“I want white!” I declared, airing my non-practical idea freely.
Thankfully, my sweet husband who usually goes along with my whims, stopped me in my tracks, and said (kindly) that there is no way we are having white floors. Outside, and three kids? Just, NO.

Next up, was the color grey.
The CHAMELEON color GREY. Gray. Whatever.
(I do like the English spelling.)
But meaning that grey at the store is not grey at your house!
Grey can be green, or blue, or purple – anything but true GREY!

We wanted something that would hide dirt as much as possible, that would coordinate with the existing color of the house, and that would look good on the steps because that’s seen from the road. Our house is a light creamy color, so no brown tones, and charcoal, although pretty, would be too much contrast. Tricky for sure.

The samples we put on the floor:

the chameleon grey

And we went with… none of the six. But a true grey is what I wanted.

Instead we went to the nearest Sherwin Williams store and went with a new paint that they said is almost plastic, and that has a lifetime guarantee. Expensive, but it went on nice and thick. Like,  some of the nicest paint I’ve ever painted with. And I’ve painted a lot.

grey cottage porch with white railing and red door

At first I thought we made the worst mistake in the world with the color, and I was going to pour out my piggy bank and buy a whole new color with all my pennies. I just didn’t like it. It was so DARK compared to the nearly white of the patina we had before, and the contrast was too much for me. It was SO GREY.

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy a whole new gallon. And thought that I’ll just try to live with it for a while. Several months later? I like the color. Fickle woman.  Patient husband.

cottage kiddos

If I would have known how different, and how much cleaner, this has made our front porch feel, I would have done this from the very beginning. I really really like it now. And it makes the bit of furniture on the front porch pop, both the white and the red pieces I have there.

The only complaint I have about the floors is that they are hard to clean. I wipe up them once a week with a mop and SCRUB them hard. Those old wooden paint-chipped patina floors? They hid every little speck of dirt that every came on. So I don’t know if it’s this kind of paint that seems to be a magnet to dirt, or if that is painted floors in general?

A few details…

The purple bench I rescued and painted bright red to match the front door.
The $5 Aztek blanket from a yard sale.
The pillows made by me, except for the compass (H&M)
Shutters were being thrown away at a job Ben worked at once, so he brought them home and painted them and hung them. (answer to a prayer I never even thought to pray!)

grey porch floor with red and white accents

red bench to match the front door
// Little Eating Corner //
Table and chairs  (gifted) that were a light oak color that we painted cream.
Old window from a junk store.
Thrifted chandelier (for pretty only, and for head-bumping).

  little eating area on the front porch chandelier on the front porch

The old wooden columns came to life after Ben sanded them, used a grinder on them, and then primed and painted them before adding trim. (Yes, that man worked hard.)

We planted Creeping Fig to go around the brick pillars (a southern plant, I think).

front porch trim detail creeping fig on the old brick

And we planted Confederate Jasmine to climb over the entryway. This is one of my favorite things about the front entrance. In the early spring, it blooms with hundreds of little while flowers that smell like a dream! I would plant this everywhere if I could.

confederate jasmine over front porch entrance

For a few accessories, I made curtain panels. I wanted something inexpensive and that would wash and bleach well. So I bought two of these sheets at Target in double size (even cheaper if you have a Red Card), cut them in half, hemmed the sides, and made a rod pocket on the top. In the end, they cost just pennies over $5 a panel, so about $20 for them all.

For a rod, we used bamboo that we cut and dried in the sun for a few days to allow it to turn that beautiful golden brown color, and then mounted them on curtain brackets (found in the hardware section at Walmart or Target or Lowes, etc. ). $10 for the brackets.

epsom salt is the secret to beautiful big ferns!

The globe lights I bought at Novelty Lights. I wanted a white cord, and I was very pleased with this purchase. I bought two sets of 25 lights. The magic they add to an outdoor space cannot be described! They are well worth the purchase (and Target often runs a sale on them in the fall)!

Also, if you want beautiful gorgeous ferns? Soak the whole planter in a large tub of water with a few heaping tablespoons of Epsom salt overnight, and do this once a week or so. They will become so big and beautiful and lush vibrant green you’ll think yourself a green thumb for sure! At least, it consoles my Black Thumb within.

A wall-mount mailbox was found at a junk shop.
“La Dolce Vita” means “The Sweet Life” in Italian. I painted it on the front porch wall because I always want to remember how precious this life is, and what a gift I’ve been given.

'la dolce vita' - it means 'the sweet life' in Italian

I bought two concrete planters with money I had saved, and filled them with small boxwoods. I loved the updated, formal look this brought to our porch.

boxwoods on the front porch red front door with planters cottage entrance

So now, in the early mornings, or for lunch, or on rainy evenings, or for no reason at all, this is where you might find us. Or our bunnies. And eating ice cream.

and then there was the bunny rain catcher. let them be little. front porch with patio lights the little guy

 It’s simple and understated, and it’s cozy and practical.
We love it.

 “After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” -L.M Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


Happy weekend, lovelies! Enjoy those simple little pleasures.

46 thoughts on “The Front Porch – before and after

  1. Kim

    Lovely, lovely, lovely in every way! You guys have worked sooooooooooo hard through the years………and the results are amazing!!!!!! How inspiring to see what hard work, bargain hunting, and SPECTACULAR taste can accomplish. It simply does NOT take zillions of dollars to create a beautiful home.
    Between this and the new deck, you have a LOT of extra living space to enjoy.
    Thank you so much for sharing this glimpse into your home.
    (I remembered you mentioning the possible addition of bedroom space in the attic and wondered if that was still in the plans.)

  2. Winnie

    How lovely and beautful are your porch, you and your sweet family! You just put a smile on my face everytme I read your posts and see your beautiful pictures. God bless you, Winnie

  3. Sarah

    This is so dreamy! I absolutely love it. We really enjoy our deck, but there are days when I wish we had a porch as well. I imagine many rainy days could be spent out there.
    Just this week I read that ferns like Epsom salt – hopefully if I am faithful with that I can bring mine back to life. :) It looks like it works for you.
    The curtains add such class. Have they been holding up okay outside? I want to do the same to our pergola, but I’m not sure how well regular fabric would hold up to the elements – direct sun, lots of wind, and rain. I might invest in a higher quality outdoor fabric…

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      The front porch is perfect for rainy days, yes! I love sitting and watching it rain, it quiets my soul.
      The curtains have held up well! Granted, they are not in direct weather because of the roof, but they get a fair bit of rain and sun. For as cheap as they are, if they last 3-4 years I’ll be happy. But if you are wanting something in direct elements, a canvas or outdoor fabric would probably be better for long-term. I’d love to see what you do! :)

  4. Aimee Weaver

    I always love your makeovers!! They make me smile every time. Your porch looks just lovely. There is something so special about working on DIY projects with your husband. I want to visit someday!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Yes, you know all about working on DIY projects with your husband. ;) There is something so neat about a team effort like that. And you are welcome to visit any time!! We would love to have you come! :)

  5. Gail McNeeley

    The porch is so inviting! I’ve always dreamed of having a porch…so far, no porch. I can absolutely continue to enjoy your photos of your sweet, beautiful cottage and your family. As you continue to make the improvements you want, I’m thinking it’s so very good for your soul. Hugs to you!

  6. Elizabeth

    I LOVE, absolutely Love it!
    Also…I am so excited for the fern tip! Next May I will definitely try it!!!
    Ferns are my favorite. I hang them on my back and front porch every summer. I was asking one of the other vendors at my market {who has HUGE, gorgeous ferns} for tips on growing mine. She said that every winter she cuts the ferns all the way down…level with the top of the pot!!! All leaves gone, everything except what is left in the pot..she said it will look bad. Then she said over the winter to water minimally, keep in indirect light and by next spring your fern will be big and beautiful again. I’m going to try this…especially since my ferns will be dying soon because of chilly, northern weather anyway.

    Your red bench is adorable. and the chairs were in the dumpster?
    Perk to being a carpenter’s wife. {our set of French doors is from a dumpster! Posts on our front porch, old window on my wall…etc.}

    You are so creative and so talented!!! I love when you post before and afters of your beautiful, lovely home.
    It always puts me in the mood to decorate! I feel like painting my old wood bench red now! Haha.

    Happy Weekend to you and your family.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Great tips on the ferns, yay! I’m going to be trying that this fall!
      And your French doors were from a dumpster? That is amazing! What a great perk for sure of being a carpenter’s wife! :)
      I can’t wait to hear your big news very very soon!!! xoxo

  7. amber

    Is it silly if I imagined myself sitting at that little white table sipping tea with you? Wish! Love every pic and detail~ your style is so simple and soft, yet elegant. And the last little shot of Hudson- the cutest! Look forward to more before n afters. :))

    Happy weekend dear xo

  8. Sherri Y.

    That is absolutely beautiful! It’s definitely what I would call a southern house…so much charm and character and so inviting. The jasmine…if only you could somehow send that smell through the internet so others may experience the beauty of it :) I didn’t know what I was missing until my husband planted 3 jasmine plants at the pillars of our pergola…they’re still small, but the plan is for them to climb the pillars & spread over the top of the pergola. We will be in smell heaven :)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Isn’t that confederate jasmine just amazing?? I never knew about it either until I moved south. It is just incredible! And yes, you will be in smell heaven when your plants grow up – that sounds just perfect!

  9. Shelley Smucker

    Your entire home belongs in a magazine. Truly! All the DIY’ing makes me exhausted just to think about it….but it sure turned out beautifully! And I’m STILL over here trying to swallow the fact that you mop your front porch once a week. Holy housecleaner!! Seriously lovely spot thought, I would LOVE to be able to swing by for coffee.:) What a dream! You are doing such an amazing job with making your house a home.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Okay, you make me laugh out loud. :) The DIY-ing I enjoy, so it’ invigorating for me. But the mopping the front porch should be clarified as a quick mop up and NOT as a detailed hand-scrubbed-affair! Let me make that clear. And it’s not something I particularly like. But I like clean floors. So I give in to the mopping. But I would absolutely love it if you could swing in for coffee, and our girls could play together. Wouldn’t that be just lovely! A girl can always dream. ;)

  10. Angela 'Jacobson' Pazurek

    Beautiful!!! Love the Anne of Green Gables quote! It’s one of my favorite book series! Love your before and afters too. My husband and I move and remodel or build houses too. It’s a fun adventure for sure! ;) ~Blessings, Angie

  11. Chelsy Renee

    oooh Clarita!!!!! you + your husband are just genius-such an awesome team you make!!! I LOVE it!! beautiful beautiful beautiful! you could totally go into business doing this type of thing. not that you’re looking for something else to do, I know. but still…just sayin. =)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Ha, you make me laugh! :) I love working with my husband on house projects! We both like the same style most of the time which is really wonderful. I think our best project yet has been our three precious kiddos though. :)

  12. Jill

    Just lovely! Thanks for sharing. We just painted our wood deck floor grey this summer and added white railing so this is giving me some great inspiration. I can’t wait to see your back patio as well!

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