Open the Door to Symmetry

So, did anyone notice anything odd about that last picture I posted of our new outdoor deck space?
Ok, well, let me spell it out for you. After all, I do realize you might not be quite as obsessed invested in this project as I am.

Can someone please tell me why this house was built with a super short door next to a super tall window? I mean, it just doesn't make sense to me. Does it bug you as much as it bugs me?

My original thought was to have a transom window installed over the door to provide that much needed sense of symmetry.

Then I saw this picture from Country Living. And I thought, I'd love to have more access to our new porch and really open the whole back of the house.

In other words, replace that super sized window with another set of french doors.

Obviously, it's not that easy. There is a lot to think about. How will it affect the layout of both the porch furniture and the den furniture? Can both spaces truly function well when they have essentially lost a wall?

Step 1: rearrange the den. 
Clearly, nothing has been staged/arranged/edited here. All I did was move the couch out from under the window and flank the fireplace with our existing chairs.

Guess what. I don't hate it. And neither does John. In fact, we kind of like how it gives the den it's own identity instead of feeling like a weird extension of the living room. 

The previous owner had their couch under the window and so did we. We never even tried it any other way until we had a reason. Now we are so happy we did. 

The real take away from this: try all the possibilities to find what works best. Even if it's always been that way. After all, your biggest loss is only the time is took to move it.

As for the doors, we are still deciding, so definitely let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

until next time, 

Gimme Shelter, For Real This Time

We're back, baby. As of last Sunday. is good to be home. For all the normal reasons, but also because our back porch makeover madness is officially over. 
That's right! Sunday night, as we pulled into the driveway, both John and I were pleasantly surprised to find that the polycarbonate roof had been added to the pergola over our back porch.

Here it is. 
What's that you say? You can't see it. 
I tell you, that's just music to my ears!
I was so worried about the polycarbonate roof, I thought it would be awful and unsightly and more awful, but to my surprise it's none of those things. Instead, it's practically invisible. 

Knowing it's pretty easy to make things look great from far away, here's a closer look. 
As you can see, the pergola is level. On top, the contractor added a 4x2 ripped to create a small angle going away from the house. This will keep water off the roof and flowing down over the stairs. 
The new ripped 4x2 creates the support for the polycarbonate panels. 

Moving in even closer, you can see that we selected a milky white polycarbonate. 
1, because it filters the light, but doesn't block it.
2, because it slightly camouflages the debris that inevitably falls on the roof. 
3, because it blends into the white pergola. duh.

Each polycarbonate panel is approximately 4x8. They are attached in a grid pattern with rubber screws. The seams are siliconed, taped and sprayed with adhesive. Creating, what we hope will be, a water-tight roof. 

I guess all my fears were for not. I officially apologized to John, who first provided this idea/solution, and told him he is the mastermind he has been trying to convince me he is. 

Moving right along…you can see we were really excited to get the porch set up. Got the old wicker out of storage (aka the garage) and plopped it on up there. Added old pillows and everything. We've got a couple more tweaks planned, but for now we are soaking up the unseasonably cool temperatures and loving our back porch. More details to come…

until next time, 

Black and White

Before the girls and I headed out on our epic tour, we made some serious headway on our back porch makeover

First, the pergola got a nice coat of white primer, followed by a fresh coat of paint.

Then, the deck and railing went ebony. 
We debated over staining or painting the railing, but in the end opted to stain the railing in the hopes that it would fade into the neighbors fence a little. 
We think it does, so extra points for us on that one!
Once the railing was stained ebony, I liked it … kinda, but when the deck and stairs went ebony, I had a minor freak out. 
I asked for the stain to be hand applied to ensure the semitransparent look I was hoping for, but the finish was too uneven so we had to apply a second coat.

Now that it's done, we're liking it. Not loving it, but liking it.
It's not exactly the semitransparent, wood grain look I was going for, but the stain will fade over time and we'll eventually get the look we want. I hope. 

Truth is: we didn't sample the stain in advance. You should always sample colors in advance. Rookie mistake. And I've got no one to blame but myself. 
Just because it looked awesome on a friend's project didn't mean it would work for mine -- I should have known that. 
No extra points for that one. 

The stain and paint aren't the only updates, fortunately, on this long-lasting project. We also added the lantern (review all the options here) and had screened doors added! 
I am definitely really very excited about the doors. About a month after we moved into the house, I had the doors open and a bird flew right in. Took me hours to get it out of the house. Ever since then, I've been petitioning to get those doors sorted out. So happy to have them in and functioning!

Also, top on the list for the porch makeover was the installation of two fans. We choose these from HomeDepot. They don't look like much, but they function perfectly and the one night we hung out on the porch before we left, they made a huge difference in keeping us cool and keeping the bugs at bay. 

So, now you can see why it was hard to leave all this progress behind. At least I got to enjoy it for one night before we left! Next up, the polycarbonate roof. And just like you, I'll have to wait to receive pictures of the progress. 
Ugh, how do you do it?

until next time, 

Give Me Shelter, Sorta

If Monday's post didn't give you enough of a peek at the new pergola, today's post should more than satisfy your needs. 

Here she is in all her glory. 
Ok, I realize that sounds sarcastic, like we might not be happy with it, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. We love it and think it was definitely worth the wait.

The style of the pergola is very similar to our inspiration, originally posted here, with a great fishtail detail on both the horizontal support beams and the vertical decorative beams. The fishtail detail paired with the cedar support brackets really elevate the whole look and help to make it feel more special, if you will. 

The pergola is mostly made of pressure treated wood, but the brackets and fishtail cut support beams are cedar. Fortunately, everything will be unified once the whole pergola has been sanded, primed and painted.  

We've decided to stain the deck and stairs in a semi-transparent ebony stain. Obviously, it's a darker stain but because it's semi-transparent you can still see the grain of the wood. A friend recently used it on her privacy fence and I LOVED it. Here's to hoping it looks as good on our deck as it does on her fence. 

The final piece to this ever-lasting puzzle is the frosted polycarbonate roof that will be installed over our beautiful new pergola. To say I'm apprehensive would be an understatement. Not about the construction, per say, just the overall look. But, we wanted a weather resistant space that didn't compromise the natural light in the den. The frosted polycarbonate should do just that. We shall see. And then you shall see. 

until next time,

We Have Stairs

Remember this inspirational picture I posted from way back when we first started gathering ideas for our back porch makeover?

We fell hard for the long stairs covering the width of the deck, loving the open feeling it provided, and it was one of the sticking points with the many contractors we interviewed to work on our porch. Meaning, not many contractors saw eye to eye with our ideas. But, we're glad we stuck to our design plan guns.

Because now that our stairs are finally going in, we are loving the look. Yes, they are huge! And yes, that's a lot of wood. But, look how grand they make the humble back deck seem. And how easy it is to access the deck from all angles and sides of the yard. And provide that ultimate indoor/outdoor lifestyle look and feel. And make the deck and yard seamlessly flow. 
Obviously, I could go on and on...

When it comes to work on your own home, always trust your gut. Of course, it's important to get several opinions, but ultimately you know your home better than any contractor does. So trust yourself and fight for what you want - even if it means interviewing several contractors, lots of eye rolling, some contractors making you feel like you don't know what you are talking about, and potential delays in your project.

Week 1: deck extension.
Week 2: stairs.
Week 3: Hopefully, the pergola.
At this rate we'll be enjoying our new deck sometime in July, but hey, it will all be worth it in the end. 
More to come…

until next time,