Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Monday, May 19, 2008

The View From The Porch




Several years ago we added a screened front porch to our suburban ranch. Most folks would have added one to the back of their house....but not us! We decided that building a screened porch would change the look of the house. Boy, did we want to change the look, it's a boring ranch house! We didn't want to do a major renovation on our house, we really like the interior. So we opted for small changes that have had a nice impact. Like adding square wood columns and pillars to the side of the house and to



the carport. Don't you think that they give a sense of continuity to the design?

When we finished the flagstone sidewalk and small retaining walls last fall, we knew we were right to locate the porch up front. It has all begun to come together: porch, woodland and wildflower gardens and sidewalk. It feels right.


The porch really has altered our life...we hardly ever eat breakfast inside; we have coffee and read the newspaper out there most mornings. We read there in the evenings. We have conversations. We relax. We nap. Time on the porch with family and friends is the best gift we ever gave ourselves. We have hosted parties, brunches and dinners.... mosquito free (that's another gift). We have even camped out on the porch on a giant air mattress. Just like when we were kids.
The porch has brought us closer to the garden then ever before. We feel like we are in the garden. Dogwoods in bloom look wonderful from slightly above! It may be my favorite way to view them....from the porch, with a cup of coffee on a chilly spring day. (Just before I bundle up and head outside, jacket over my pjs, to have a better look.)

When the summer doldrums hit and it's too hot, muggy and uncomfortable to work outside the porch is my retreat. I can sit and view the garden; plan for fall plantings, order spring bulbs and dream about cooler weather. It's delightful on the porch and I love it.






It's a good basic porch that our friend Nancy designed and built...we added skylights and made sure there was plenty of electrical outlets and good lighting. One luxury that I recommend to anyone building a porch... cypress floors. Boy, are they easy to take care of...just hose them down when they get dirty. Which is a frequent occurrence with a screened porch!

The porch has three open sides

so it is plenty breezy even in the hottest weather. Two ceiling fans keep the air circulating and help on really hot humid summer days. I don't know about your city, but we have too many hot humid days in Nashville...and it's getting hotter.

It's been 5 years since we added the porch and we are just now thinking about investing in some good quality outdoor furniture. Both of us have our eye on a comfy couch...we have visions of reading and napping. Wait a minute, we may be heading for trouble here. Two people with napping on their minds and one couch!

I suspect we'll work it out!


Gail

47 comments:

  1. I love that porch! It is inviting and so very comfortable looking. I am coming down for a mint julep on that porch! How about a double couch? I know, takes up too much room. You'll have to have a sign up sheet!

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  2. Oh my .. Gail
    You have made me so jealous .. in a good way though ? haha ... I am totally in love with your porch.
    I dream of a haven like that .. Well, we would have to win the lottery .. we are way too close to neighbors to have the right setting.
    So I will have to enjoy your's thinking about how perfect it is !
    Joy

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  3. Gail, It sure looks like some nice comfy furniture to me already. I love those floors and your words evoke true front porches.

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  4. layanee,

    It is the best gift we ever gave ourselves...

    I do wish you could come over for a mint julep and a look around the garden...

    I did see a wraparound couch but as you say TOO big!

    gail

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  5. joy,

    We used to sit outside on the patio covered in poisonous anti bug juice and now all is delightful...I feel so lucky.

    We buy one lottery ticket each week!
    So far we have recouped the cost of the tickets. This week we won $7! Big winner in Tennessee!

    Gail

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  6. Tina,

    It is very comfy but very icky after 5 years in the elements with a cat who like to eat plants and deposit them on the cushions, if you know what I mean?

    The two houses on the garden tour (PPS) this weekend were quite good. One was a mature garden, I first saw it 25 years ago and now the canopy trees make the original herb garden almost impossible to have. The second was a garden you would love to see. The entire back yard was built and designed by the very enthusiastic woman gardener. Two water features...one a very deep pond. She had a wild garden but followed all the principles of good garden design, she said it was an accident.

    gail

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  7. I wish we had one. That was on our list of things we wanted in a house but couldn't find. Sitting on the screened in porch reading the paper on a lazy weekend morning is a goal of mine. Get couch and a hammock!

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  8. Dave,

    Good idea.

    So many decks can easily become screened porches if you are a handy fellow! The residents of C&L are not.

    We were laughing with friends over the big changes that take place in homes once the little chicks leave the nest....we built a porch, others get new kitchens or master suites.
    I would like a new kitchen with all the bells and whistles but who can nap there!

    gail

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  9. Looks very nice. I wish we had one.

    I wish you would post a longer view though. To me it looks more like the porch is on the side of the house instead of the front and I couldn't really see how the square columns fit in.

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  10. Bill,

    So you want a better perspective shot...I will try! My camera and I have a way of shooting photos that slightly distort perspective...But I assure you my actual vision is not distorted.

    gail

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  11. Oh, you definitely need two couches. Our single couch on our screened porch is the most popular spot, and if you have room for two, you and your husband would both have room to nap. Napping on a porch is a very pleasant activity! Or should I say inactivity.

    Your porch looks like a treehouse retreat---delightful.

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  12. Pam,

    Spot on, those are the words..tree house...that we use to describe our porch experience! If we want a table there will only be room for one couch!

    Gail

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  13. Awesome Gail and Dave's idea sounds good to me!

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  14. Gail, your porch looks like a great place for a future Spring Fling gathering!

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  15. Well, the solution to that problem is simple: 2 couches!

    Reading your post made it clear to me why I like porches so much. We don't have them in my country but I remember falling in love with them when I first saw one in a western.

    Happy porching Gail!

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  16. Hi Gail, waiting for Tina here within the hour! Your porch is the most wonderful thing in the world. It sounds like you use it to its full potential too. Do you really need that table? How about a slim long coffee table to serve the same purpose and allow for the two couches? Or do they make outdoor lazyboys? The view from your porch with the trees gently swaying and the birds singing sounds so alluring. How far are your away from here again?
    Frances

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  17. Jean,

    Yes it is a good idea! and I think a porch swing would be fun except they make me dizzy!

    gail

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  18. Cindy,

    How about a virtual meeting...

    If only there were enough Nashville area bloggers, Francis is too far away and Tina and Dave are in other counties, too. Not like you Texans or Austinites!


    Gail

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  19. Yolanda Elizabet,

    I don't think I ever saw a screened window in Europe let a lone a screened porch. Court yard gardens, front gardens, side gardens, wonderful gardens and fabulous window boxes all over the place. I rememember seeing the most interesting pelargoniums, types we hadn't in the states.

    Porches were a perfect answer for hot, buggy nights before we all had air conditioned lives.

    Gail

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  20. Frances,

    You are welcome anytime. It is a lovely porch and we do use it often.

    Just last week it was covered in pollen, not so good for the allergic set, but then it's an easy sweep and hose it down!

    My mom really loved it and spent the most time out here! I have some great photos of the entire gang at the porch gatherings.

    But your idea of a a nice coffee table is good.

    gail

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  21. Every good southerner loves a porch of any kind! Yours is charming - I fell in love with it the first time you gave us a peek at it when showing us your walkway. Yes, I love the columns you added and BTW your boring ranch isn't as boring as my ranch- believe me. lol

    We eat all our meals for as long as we can on our back screened-in porch that also covers the pool. I design my garden by how well I can see what I plant from the porch! The screening is a must with the mosquitoes isn't it?

    Lovely post, Gail. Would love to have coffee with you one of these days.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

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  22. Hi Gail. I love your spot of heaven. It looks so welcome & inviting. I don't think anyone could not stay & want to curl up & take a nap. Gentle breezes--to die for.
    I sure wish I had a porch--front or back preferably back as I spend more time there. I had both at the old house. Miss them a lot. Back had a grill built at one end of it. Nice.

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  23. meems,

    It's the orange brick!! I am glad you like the porch, we are pretty happy with it...and you are always welcome to come for coffee!

    Most of the summer we are able to enjoy the porch but last summer it was pretty hot and dusty from the drought. A bit different this year, rumor has it that with all the rain we've had and the mild winter that mosquitoes are going to be very bad...

    Gail

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  24. Gail, We have a boring ranch house, too, with a very plain front. After seeing this, I want a front porch, too! This looks like the perfect spot to enjoy your garden.

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  25. We have one and can you believe we never use it? It is not as nice as yours though. I've thought about doing something to it and I should. It has a slate floor and very hard to clean.

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  26. Rose,

    Do it, at the very least have someone check out the possibility! As I am typing this my husband asked me to join him on the porch, he has a laptop and is working out there this morning.

    Gail

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  27. Phillip,

    Slate floors are tough to clean and they show mud very well! We have an entrance with slate and used to seal it with a product but I stopped that and just mop it. There are some very nice and simple patio rugs that could cover it up!

    I hope this post encourages you to have coffee there, your garden is lovely and what a nice way to enjoy it when the mosquitoes are about.

    Gail

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  28. What a pretty porch. I'd love to come have a cup of coffee there -- just lovely inside and then what a great view you have of the dogwoods and your beautiful gardens. We have a rocker sofa thing in our cabana out back and it's wonderful for napping with fat cushions on it and the breeze we usually have. You should definitely look for something! Gail - we could just all come to your house for a fling! Then you will really need the couch!!! And yes, it was me chasing the lizard down the driveway - hadn't really considered that image would stick with people like that, but I'm not afraid of embarrassing myself! Enjoy your morning coffee out there.

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  29. diana,

    Oh, do come for coffee, can't you find a good reason to visit Nashville...do you need a bit of country music (!) or just want to see Tennessee...
    You won't be forever remembered as the lizard chasing Spring Flinger, you have so many other fabulous qualities!


    gail

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  30. Your porch is wonderful! I am sooo jealous!

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  31. Lisa,

    Do you need one in California? I guess it depends upon where in CA you are!

    So glad you stopped by, I will be over for a visit today.

    Gail

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  32. It looks wonderful, Gail! I like my long and narrow porch along the front of the house, but we sure could use a screened one in back to keep out mosquitoes and other insects. Pam's porch has always made me jealous and now yours is making me more so.

    Good luck with getting local garden bloggers together!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  33. Oh My God!!! or ... Gail!!! It is lovely! I am soon going to add a porch to my house. I need a back one - maybe back/side one, but front? I would not think of it, but I see it is great idea! Would be cool and breezy in the summer :)
    Thank you for inspiration and thinking over my porch plan again :)

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  34. I forgot to add - oh, me - that this design is definately worth to continue.
    If you look for inspiration, have a look here - maybe you don't know that blog yet :
    A Heart in Provence: A little tour round the courtyard

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  35. lola,
    Two porches...that is decadent! I wouldn't mind two...it might force me to complete my back garden...shame me more like it!


    Gail

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  36. Annie,

    Any porch is inviting, front or back...if your garden is near by. I would very much like to have the local bloggers over...there just aren't a lot of us!

    We have to screen or we can't go outside for any length of time...maybe I should rename my blog...clay, limestone and mosquitoes.


    Gail

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  37. Ewa,

    I do love my porch...and love hearing that the post inspired you. I did check out her site and it is beautiful.

    Gail

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  38. Oh, yes, we are in Templeton, CA--smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and San Francisco and about a mile inland--and the mosquitoes could carry you away at times.

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  39. Ewa, that blog is lovely. Those pictures are to die for.

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  40. I just covet your screened porch. I'd love to have one for the garden especially this time of year when it's so hot in the house but the mosquitoes keep me inside.

    Looks lovely.

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  41. MSS,

    Before the porch we stopped going outside and were trapped in the house...the bugs were terrible. Bug spray didn't help, we even tried huge fans to blow them away! We thought about a porch for a long time and then decided to ask Nancy to draw up a design. The design was much more than I thought it could be; we had to do it. She did a wonderful job and I couldn't be happier. I hope a screened porch is in your future...

    Friends have screened in their back porch, it's surprisingly narrow and works.

    Gail

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  42. Your porch is gorgeous Gail. I had a huge screened porch two houses ago. It was my favorite place and my family pretty much lived out there 5 months a year. Screened porches are the most wonderful places for warm-weather entertaining. No flies, no wasps, no mosquitos - perfect for serving food and drinks, perfect in every way.

    The previous owners of that house were huge party-throwers. After my ex and I bought the place, everyone we knew and people we didn't said "Oh yeah, I know that house. . . I went to a party (or ten) there. That screened porch was great!" I sold the house after my divorce nine years ago. Aside from the gardens, I miss the porch most of all. Every house should have a screened porch!

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  43. So, so cool. What a luxury. What about a futon, that way you can fold it down and have a double bed so you can both nap.

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  44. gardengirl,

    I would miss the porch, too...sorry you had to give it up..maybe there will be another one in your life. There is something wonderful about the simplicity a porch brings to a home.

    Gail

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  45. Bonnie,

    Yes a big comfy bed with a feather mattress like a sleeping porch!...I wish! The porch is subject to much rain and cross winds and anything out there would get pretty wet! We may recover the seat cushions and get a nice hammock!

    You are welcome to visit anytime.

    Gail

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  46. Gail, I know exactly how you feel about your screened in porch. We built one onto the back of our former home back in 1995 and enjoyed it for 10 yrs. before we decided to downsize and move to a gated, Sr. citizens community. I do not miss the community, only certain neighbors. I do not miss the 2 hr. of mowing and lawn maintence, or those dreaded 13 stairs we had to climb to get from one floor to the other. Neither of us could do those stairs anymore. We miss most of all our screeened in porch. It became our haven from the first sign of Spring until late Fall approached and it got too cold to sit out. My first cup of hot tea, I would take out to the porch and listen to the early signs of the day, listen to the birds singing and smell the freshness of the outside, enjoy the peace from early morning commuters hurrying off to work. I always said those were my quiet moments I spent talking to God. I miss my pull down attic stairs and my large storage areas. As much yard work as there was to do there, I miss the beautiful yard. Here the lawns are mowed for you but it doesn't look like it would had we mowed it ourselves. They do all the lawn maintence for everybody but not like we would do it at our former home. When my grandchildren were little, they would love to spend the nights and sleep out in the screened in porch with me. The many crab feast we had there with neighbors. That porch was our santuary and it gave us peace within.

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  47. I usually visit you directly, but this time I arrived via Garden Rant. I certainly enjoyed the guided tour. It was nice to see you mentioned there!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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