23 Apr

On the front porch looking in

painted bench

I am so over cold weather. I realized the other day that my furnace has been kicking in consistently for over 6 months. Consecutively. It’s beyond ridiculous. Before Facebook, I wouldn’t have given much thought to the local weather but photos of folks frolicking in shorts and tanks gives me pause. It’s the end of April for crying out loud. I’m in multiple layers with the heater running and the weatherman just used the “S” word again. Why the heck do I willingly live in the Midwest?

I have no idea either.

Last week, I braved the cold and rain to run some errands and noticed a sign at the subdivision entrance announcing our upcoming neighborhood rummage sale. In preparation for the sale last May, I borrowed some tables and conduit (to hang clothes) from a friend. She had to stand on something to reach the poles up in the garage rafters and hopped up on the cutest bench I’ve ever seen.

painted bench

Can you believe she had this gem stashed in the far corner of her garage? And can you believe it was covered in dirt, cobwebs and sporting equipment? And can you believe she had no issues loading it into my car? And can you believe she gave it to me for free?

Yeah, I wouldn’t believe it either. Especially since this is what she was standing on and more than happy to offload:


You’ve seen these right? It’s part of a 4-piece set that was all the rage in the mid 90’s promising to give your kitchen a cozy feel. Or forcing you to sit entirely too close to other members of your immediate family depending how you look at it. My girlfriend’s family had one and it sucked if you had to pee and weren’t sitting on the far ends. Plus, they didn’t opt for the extra bench seat so we just sat there, single file, staring at the fridge as we ate.

Anyhow, I have no idea what became of the sister parts to this piece but my porch had to have the cast off. So I brought it home and pulled out my sander. Luckily, the piece was already falling apart and made flipping the back around a cinch.

sanded bench

After some glue and screws I prepared to paint. I knew that I wanted it to be green but needed to add pops of the deep orange on the front door and incorporate the cream trim color too. To keep it from resembling the Italian flag, I added a few other fun colors I had samples of lying around. Since some of the paint was meant for inside use only I slapped on a couple coats of protective sealant.

striped seat

When I reversed the back of the bench I traded in the recessed trim for pocket screw holes that needed to be covered up. A few wooden medallions did the trick. I painted them to coordinate with the stripes and glued them over the holes.

painted medallion

The seat top lifts up for storage so my dust broom and pan are kept handy. I also stashed a pair of pruning sheers and a garden hand shovel inside for quick access. Pieces that provide form and function are my favorite. Now, if Spring ever decides to be sprung around these parts, I’m ready.

painted bench

But until then I’ll bask in my toasty 70 degree living room, look out on to the front porch and dream of living elsewhere.

09 Nov

DIY Curb Appeal

DIY curb appeal

Somewhere in my DNA there is a nomad gene, of this I am certain. I got it from my dad.

In the last 16 years I have moved 338 times. (I have actually lived in 11 different places in 10 different cities but you can see how that would feel like 338 moves.) Half of those moves were to apartments; the other half were single family homes. Earlier, I mentioned how our current house is the first ‘used’ one we’ve ever purchased.

curb appeal rehab

Now, when it comes to clothes I have no issues wearing the same jeans 3 days in a row (unless*especially if* I am painting/staining) and I’ve been known to wear all of my black shirts in succession for an entire month. But you won’t catch me driving the same color car and I have never owned the same color house twice.

I believe the anal retentive gene came from my mom.

To date, I had never had a cranberry front door and I certainly wasn’t going to start with this house. See how dark and drab and blah it was? It didn’t compliment whatever shade of siding that is…

paint the front door

Is it gray? or green? maybe tan? Either way it made the front porch feel like a cave. Nothing about it said “Welcome”. Instead it screamed “Paint Me!” So, that’s what I did.

Now, I don’t know if it is because I’ve spent so long in the construction industry or if I’m just an odd duck but my favorite color for the last decade or so has been orange. I LA-OVE it. And not just orangey-orange. I am a fan of terra cotta and rust and melon. I like them all. But I am obsessed with that orange-red color you find tucked away in the center of a Spanish olive.

Only, I didn’t anticipate it being so BOLD.

The awesome thing about paint is that in no time you can erase the bad decisions of the past ~ 2 hours to be exact.

bright orange shutters The shadows on the front porch tone the door color down during the day but with the overhead light on at night I doubt anyone would mistake my house for their own; rattling the door handle yelling to let them in, damn it. (yes, this really happened at residence #6 – I guess alcohol makes all the really similar houses look identical.)

Anyhow, while I was painting the door and shutters something about the porch column post was nagging at me. I decided that the overall scale was off and decided to beef the scrawny guy up a bit.

Unfortunately, I tackled this project before I had any inkling of starting a blog so I am lacking pretty ‘How To’ photos. It’s ok though – all the cool blogs have done this before me so I’m in good company. Instead, you’re going to have to conjure up images in your head based on my (not so) in depth ramblings and we’ll call it an interactive exercise. M’kay?

First, I removed the top and bottom casing trim on the existing post. {Photo 1} I whipped over to Menards and picked up a green treated 4 x 4 and cut it to size heightwise. Then I stood it up next to the existing lumber and smacked ‘er into place.

beefed up porch column

Confident the beam was wedged in well enough and the porch header wasn’t going to come crashing down, I grabbed some scrap wood (1 x 6’s) and built an box to encase the supports. I left the back board off so I could ‘wrap’ the 3-sided box around the front and sides. Then I held the last board up and shot nails in to finish it off. So that it didn’t look unfinished, I cut and added trim to the top and bottom of the post. {Photo 2}

I wanted something whimsical to soften the hard edges of the new column. I had this fabulous idea to add a sconce to illuminate the new address numbers. We order a lot of pizza and I was starting to feel bad for the delivery guy since the numbers weren’t visible from the street (either because the first set was light gray or because I left them off entirely for the few days week I took to finish this project ~ whoops!) Since I was well passed the caulk, paint and prime stage it was a tad too late to install any electrical. I had to pull out Plan B.

I went gangbusters trying to find a way to transform a hanging metal candle holder into a glow-in-the-dark outdoor lantern.
Google eluded me. Pinterest failed me. I was ready to duct tape the top of a broken solar pathway light (the aforementioned ‘box’ may have fallen over during construction) on the inside when I found exactly what I was looking for at Lowes. On sale.

Sometimes you just have to succumb to retail.

I painted and replaced the address numbers, and installed the prefabricated outdoor solar light.

Then I stepped back to look at the progress. I was happy. This was a house I could live in (even if I didn’t have anything to do with building it). Later that night, the pizza man was happy – he had no problems finding out house.

And as far as I know, I’m the only one in the family with the DIY gene.

quick curb appeal update

 (…notice the front door is primed in this pic? It’s STILL like that today – I’m waiting for the weather to pass before attempting to re-re-repaint it. That is an entirely different post.)