The Farmhouse Front Porch Reno Process (Reveal Coming Tomorrow!)

When we were first dreaming, designing, and rendering this house I thought very little about the front porch – not because I didn’t care about it, but because it was not my biggest fish to fry. I had so many fish, like an ocean of fish waiting to get fried and trust me, it was reeking over here. The front porch is not where the bulk of people will go in and out of (except for brand-new guests) so its function is more for curb appeal (which is very important but easy to put on the back burner). Luckily, Anne (ARCIFORM) and her team thought about it. So while I was too busy playing with cut-up paper for the tiled sunroom floor – for months – a front and back porch came to life in the drawings. And boy am I glad it did. The above is our lovely before, where it was more of a patio with a sitting area (and tomorrow you’ll see the after). So today we’ll walk through the process of turning this front door and patio area into our now dreamy front porch.

There is nothing about the original front patio that bummed me out, really. It had a lot of potential and a sweet big front door (that we kept). It had a side cement patio that led to the backyard and seemed like it could be a nice sitting area. But the problem was that I dreamed of a sunroom, and the side area was the perfect spot for that space.

A Few Months Later…

It always gets worse before it gets better, and this stage was really the bottom. Comically so. This was what the house looked like in February when Brian and I came up to check on the house before we lived in Portland. We invited my parents and friends to come over and see the progress and there were a lot of sympathetic and confused expressions. It’s SO HARD to see the potential (even for us) at times, and we got a lot of “Are you sure this was the right decision?” vibes, but no one actually asked.

I don’t think I’ve talked much about the original or new siding, but here’s the situation: When we bought the house (in 2020) there was a layer of either aluminum or vinyl siding overtop the OG siding, painted white. So we did some exploratory work and saw that indeed there was OG wood siding underneath. We took off the newer (but very beat up) siding and got quotes to see if we could just restore the original. As you can see, the paint (riddled with lead) was chipping off very badly so it was a huge no-go. Of course, we looked at the different profiles we could install – if we were starting from scratch we would’ve had other options but ultimately decided to install new wood siding with the same profile as the original because it was classic and we liked it. So we had to rip off not only the aluminum/vinyl siding but also the lead-filled OG siding. Also if you are thinking of going into a non-A.I. stealable lucrative career I’d maybe consider demolition work. So much respect for those folks as it’s a highly laborious and dangerous job with a lot of things like lead and Asbestos that most of us don’t want to deal with, but my goodness it ain’t cheap! 🙂

The Porch Foundation AKA The Concrete Pad

Originally, we wanted to put the sunroom on this concrete pad where the OG patio was (where I’m standing above) and honestly, I don’t remember why we ultimately didn’t. I think it either wasn’t big enough or we were going to add more to it to link to the back porch or it wasn’t in good enough condition to put a room on top of. Or maybe we also needed crawl space for mechanicals? Funny how this was probably such a thing that we all decided on, but over two years later I do not remember why we demo’d out this concrete pad to put in a new concrete foundation that was bigger.

The New Sunroom/Porch Foundation

So we poured a new foundation and started building the sunroom. The reason this is all relevant is that it really helped give us “a room” to create a more intimate porch. Less “entry” and more “let’s sit and gab”.

Framed Pp + New Roofline

Obviously, due to Portland weather, we wanted the front porch to be covered and the sunroom roofline made it easy to extend and create a covered front porch. And in case you didn’t notice I’d love to call out that we added a fourth window on the second floor because the house started with only three. I think we stole that window from the guest room but I don’t totally remember.

A Change/Twist

At first, the brick wall you see above was supposed to be a sliding door from the sunroom. At the last minute, I decided to nix it because we realized that having a solid wall in the sunroom was necessary for storage. Basically, having this wall be a door really meant that we had no way to even store wallpaper samples. As you know we got pretty greedy with natural light in our house (possibly too much) and this was one of the places where we decided to slow our roll. Does the sunroom need to access the front porch? NOPE. We had a front door right there, and the sunroom still has French doors to the back porch. I also realized that this would be the best outdoor “sitting room” with the potential of having a sofa or sectional. But if there is a sliding door it would’ve limited our options for furniture out there. So we closed up the opening and prepped it for brick. Very glad we did.

The Wood Floor + Stain

Ok, this could be a whole post in and of itself. We wanted a stained wood deck but we didn’t want to use Ipe wood because of how it’s sourced nor did we want Douglas fir (mostly because it’s not my favorite wood tone). So we found this company called Robi that claims to have sustainably sourced highly durable wood – like Ipe, but better. It wasn’t cheap (similar to Ipe) but we thought the wood grain was beautiful. In the photo above you’ll see half of it in its original form, the other half being stained. Now when it first was installed we were IN LOVE with the natural wood and we were under the impression that it would be sealed and perhaps evened out a bit but that we’d retain the pretty tone. So when we came upon one of our painters staining the wood (above) we were concerned. Did we stil llike it? Sure, but it wasn’t what we were picturing. But it was half done and stripping it off would be a real thing. And if I’m being honest we were so close to moving in, desperate to not have one more hold up, so I let this one go. But then…

It Got Even Darker

Here you can see the first few are stained, but they look darker. I was confused but honestly, I was also overwhelmed and likely had SAD and I HATED being that person who picked everything apart. It just looked so much darker and after talking to everyone on site and probably coming off a little unhinged, we ended up just finishing it. if I could go back in time I’d I guess have them strip or sand it off and start fresh. But I didn’t…

I do not know what happened between the first and the second coat of stain! Or maybe they ran out and bought a darker stain on accident? We thought we had ordered the clear sealant, but y’all this was NOT CLEAR. Everyone was like, “This is what you wanted” and “Just wait til it dries” and I just remember being so frustrated with everyone, including myself, but it was too late. We were really hoping for a light to medium Scandinavian-look decking. lt turned out much darker and dare I say more purple.

I came back after the second coat had dried (I should not have said yes to the second coat) and I was super bummed. This is a shitty position for everyone to be in – no one means to bum out the client. So much hard work went into these decks. I hate being the person that isn’t happy with the work. So I did what I always do and asked the questions that I always ask: What are my options and how much do they cost? Essentially I had two options – 1. Strip, sand, and re-seal with hopes of a lighter finish. This would take days and even then the dark stain within the groove would be very hard to get rid of. As far as cost, I don’t know – a few guys for a few days can’t be less than $2k. I also just really really hate having people redo stuff – I feel like it’s bad for team morale and puts everyone in a bad mood, and I hate that energy when people are working so hard to make my home so pretty and up to my high standards. So the other option was to wait and see how much it fades over time and if it still bugs me this year or next year then decide to sand or paint then. Now that it’s been a year I don’t really notice it anymore and I can say objectively that it is really pretty – just not what I wanted. I feel like I could have gotten this look with Douglas Fir which would have been much, much cheaper. I want to be clear that this wasn’t ARCIFORM’s fault – I’m not sure if Robi sent the wrong color or if I ordered the wrong color. Who knows and I don’t even like to go back through my emails and find out who is to blame because it does nothing to solve the problem. Jamie and his team executed a beautiful deck and the painters stained it perfectly – it just was the wrong color. WHOOPS. Also if you are looking for this we ordered the Sassafras Robi wood as you can see here.

So here is the last photo I have of the wood pre-stain, which haunts me a bit (but I’m actually totally over it now).

photo by kaitlin green | from: our front door reveal – on choosing the right color + what it did to my psyche and our curb appeal

Ya win some and ya lose some!

Painting The Door Red

Painting the door red was the last of my misguided decisions, but one that taught me that A. this color, Poinsettia by Sherwin-Williams, is a fantastic bright red, and B. red against white is too flashy (for me and this setting). But look how pretty she looked when she was styled out!

photo by kaitlin green | from: our front door reveal – on choosing the right color + what it did to my psyche and our curb appeal

So tomorrow you’ll see the front porch reveal, finished, styled out and hopefully like me, you’ll barely even notice the darker stain. Funny how that works (and thank goodness). Let this be a lesson to all of us – that YES we should obsess passionately over details to get us closer to what we really want in our home when we are investing in a remodel, but with the right styling and decoration, you can also stop noticing some of the things that you previously saw as a huge mistake. Nothing a porch swing and a 7′ wooden bird can’t fix!! 🙂

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