Front porch makeover

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Memorial Day is upon us.  Even though it seemed like Spring would never show up here in Minnesota, we are now enjoying 90 degree days.  The delicious smell of dinner cooking on the grill and the giggles of sun-kissed kids as they run through the sprinkler remind me of why I would never dream of leaving Minnesota.  Maybe the cold and snowy winters make Summer all the more magical.  If that's the case I'd say we are in for one amazing summer!

The warm weather makes us so excited to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and of course begin working on the outdoor projects that we have been dreaming about all winter.  Last year we cleared the back of our lot and began landscaping.  Other than a couple trees, our yard was a blank slate.  Since we moved from an association maintained townhome, this was our first opportunity to create an outdoor space just for us. We added wood chip around the house,  planted  some bushes and flowers around the front porch, and added a hydrangea tree.  While we were nowhere near done with our outdoor space, we had a solid foundation to build on.  

This year we decided to continue focusing on the front of our house.  We wanted to add some more curb appeal, and turn our front porch into a comfortable spot for our family to sit back and relax.  We started with a completely blank slate, and it was so fun to watch our vision slowly come to life.  


Creating Curb Appeal

On the left is our "before", taken the week that we purchased our house.  On the right is our "after", taken a year and a half later.  Keep reading to see how we were able to take a very basic, builder grade exterior and transform it into a cozy, spot with lots of curb appeal.


The Power of Paint

Our first priority was painting the columns on our porch a solid white.  We love the color gray, but the two tone gray and white color scheme on our columns stood out as something that we wanted to change from Day 1.  Someday we would like to add stone to the columns, but for now we decided to focus on painting them white.  They look SO much better.  We didn't stop there with the paint.  We also painted our concrete "Slate Gray" with Behr Porch and Patio floor paint, and painted the front door "Orion Gray" with Behr Marquee paint. It's AMAZING what paint can do.  Our house went from looking a bit dreary, to looking crisp, clean, and bright.  

See what I mean? We were able to make big changes to our front porch with minimal investment simply by painting the columns, door, and concrete.  My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner!


A Place to Relax

Next we needed to address the seating.  We had brought along a rattan loveseat from our last house, but we did not want to use it again.  Apart from looking really plain, it was too small for the space and not very comfortable.  We don't have much time to sit around and relax with full time jobs, two little kids, and starting a small business.  This means that when we get the chance to sit outside and enjoy the front porch, we want to be as comfortable as possible.  After deciding that we would prefer to have two chairs over another love seat, we began looking online to see what we would like to make.  After finding some chair plans from Ana White that we really liked, my husband Putter started planning out the chairs.  We bought the cushions first (I picked out these ones from Target), so that he could use the actual cushions to adjust the chair measurements and ensure a perfect fit.  He also adjusted the plans to add a taller back on the chairs.  We did this because the original chair plans have a low back that is even with the arm rests, which didn't provide the back support that we were looking for.  We want to be able to kick back and relax on the porch, so adding a taller back on the chairs was an easy fix.  

Here are the chairs before I stained them. The simple design and clean lines made these the perfect choice for our front porch. With a per chair cost of $30 in building material, $60 in cushions and $10 in stain we were able to achieve the look of a much more expensive chair.

Here are the chairs before I stained them. The simple design and clean lines made these the perfect choice for our front porch. With a per chair cost of $30 in building material, $60 in cushions and $10 in stain we were able to achieve the look of a much more expensive chair.

After he built and sanded the chairs, I got to work staining them.  We thought that we wanted a cedar look, so we bought some cedar colored outdoor stain and got to work.  The result was NOT what we had envisioned.  After spending a couple of late nights staining them, the last thing that I wanted to do was re-stain them. We decided to move them to the porch and see what they looked like in the space.  After a solid week of denial, we finally gave in and decided to restain them.  Even though this meant another late night, I'm SO glad that we did.  We selected a Hickory colored stain to use over the cedar, and the result is a unique, rich color that we are totally in love with. The cedar color underneath adds an extra layer of depth that we wouldn't have gotten by just using the Hickory color, so it was all worth it in the end.  

The chair on the left was stained using the original cedar colored stain. The chair on the right was stained with cedar, lightly sanded, and then stained again with a hickory colored stain. The chair color on the right is exactly what we were hoping for.

The chair on the left was stained using the original cedar colored stain. The chair on the right was stained with cedar, lightly sanded, and then stained again with a hickory colored stain. The chair color on the right is exactly what we were hoping for.

Putter also built a side table for the porch that he modeled after a Williams Sonoma inspired  bench design that we liked. We like this design so much that we plan to build a matching bench before the summer is over.  We stained this one using only the Hickory stain in order to give it a coordinating look while avoiding making it match exactly.  


Personalizing our Space

The walls

Next we wanted to address the wall space.  Our porch has a lot of blank wall space, and being sign makers, this was the obvious place to start.  We have been working hard to learn how to use our new CNC machine so that we can expand our sign making capabilities, and this was the perfect opportunity to create something new.  We decided on a Personalized Welcome Sign, and couldn't love the finished product more.  The tongue and groove cedar background, framed with a simple cedar frame contrasts beautifully with the black painted 3D design that we created for the sign,  This design began as something I drew on my iPad and then cut out of wood using the CNC machine. This process was totally worth all of the trial and error that comes with learning to use multiple new computer programs, and has made us so excited for the endless possibilities ahead for our business.  

I'm totally in love with this welcome sign! We added this design to our Etsy shop, so if you are looking to add some interest to your porch walls I highly recommend this sign!

I'm totally in love with this welcome sign! We added this design to our Etsy shop, so if you are looking to add some interest to your porch walls I highly recommend this sign!

the decor

Lastly, we wanted to add some simple yet beautiful outdoor decor to help make our front porch feel like an extension of our home.  We started with some layered entryway rugs and an area rug for the seating area.  I have a love of lanterns, so when I found these adorable lanterns I knew that we needed to incorporate them into the space.  We decided to hang them on either side of our front window, using no-drill siding hangers to hang them on the house.  Then we added some accent pillows and a basket to hold the pillows when we aren't using them. On the table we decided to use a galvanized house lantern to add some height and color.  We also built a large planter box and placed some galvanized buckets inside with colorful annuals.  The buckets coordinate well with the house lantern, helping to tie the front door space and seating area together.  

Our "after". My favorite part of a project is watching all of the details come together, and this front porch makeover did not disappoint!

Our "after". My favorite part of a project is watching all of the details come together, and this front porch makeover did not disappoint!

If you need me, I'll finishing off this Memorial Day weekend by sitting on the front porch, reading a magazine, and watching the kids splash around in their pool.  Hello summertime!

Lindsey