Ah! Where did May go you guys?? Long time no post… I know! We’ve been busy though, and honestly, it’s been nice to just relax a bit at night instead of editing photos and sitting at the computer. So we’ll see if I can spur myself back to a more regular post schedule. Because even though I’ve been enjoying not being tied to my computer lately, I definitely have been busy with projects too, and I’d love to show them to you.
On to one of those projects now! When we bought this house, it had nearly everything on my wish list. Nearly. One thing I had always dreamed of though, was a big beautiful front porch. Somewhere we could lounge and watch kids play outside. Or sit on a porch swing and watch rain storms like I did with my dad when I was little.
Well, all we have is a tiny portico. But that’s not a great reason to not buy a house that you otherwise love, right? Right. It still has always bothered me though, that we don’t have anywhere to sit out front, especially since we live on a cul-de-sac (circle drive), which means Vera is always out front playing in the circle with the neighbor kids. Seriously, every day the weather is even remotely fair enough to step outside.
Given that, I’ve been dreaming of adding on a porch since the day we made an offer almost four years ago (4! Really?!), but that is obviously a huge undertaking that may never happen. And if it does, it won’t be anytime soon, as there are several other essential projects that precede it in order of necessity. But a girl can dream right?
Since I’m a strategist though, I can’t just leave things alone. I chew on them over and over until a solution comes to me. Hence, our new front rock patio. :)
I know that a porch isn’t in the cards for this house, at least for the foreseeable future, so I came up with what I consider the next best option. We’ve spent the past several weekends doing a little landscaping out front and created a nice little rock patio using what we already had, just moving things around.
Here’s what it looked like when we started. Extra bad since we hadn’t cleaned up from winter yet. It will make the after look even shinier. Trust me. Don’t you love the Christmas trees on the porch? Did I mention this was taken just a few weeks ago?
First, we dug up the retaining wall in front, dug a new trench several feet out, and put it all back down in its new spot. While this was going on, I also laid new weed block paper down over as much of the area as possible. This was probably my least favorite part, because it involved moving away all the mulch and rocks that were already there, but so worth it not to have to pull weeds all summer long.
Then I marked out my little patio area, and we went about the ever so tedious task of relocating all the rock from around the tree area over to the new patio spot.
I should stop here to explain. The strange division between mulch and patio that’s visible right behind the tree in the before photos has always driven me crazy. Crazy! Not only is there no purpose for it, but having rock right next to the portico and sidewalk (and not anywhere else) visually blended into the cement and just didn’t provide the pop of contrast I would have chosen.
So my new plan involved moving all the randomly placed rock into a little patio area and surrounding it with deep black mulch and pretty plants for contrast. Perennials of course, because I have a black thumb and they stand a better chance of making it more than a week.
I really can’t describe how tedious this was. Brett doesn’t do well with tasks like this, so I did most of it on my own, with some help from my dad (and Vera of course). But I’m sure our neighbors wondered what the heck we were doing over here, because it looked a fright for weeks while I took multi-day sanity breaks from filling bucket after bucket with rocks.
Finally though, I got it done! Yip yip!! And then came the fun part. Pouring new mulch is one of the most rewarding instant gratification activities out there. In a matter of minutes, your yard turns from blah to ta-dah with minimal effort. Besides that, I stumbled across this awesome patio set from World Market that was unbelievably priced. If you’ve ever shopped for patio furniture you know that it can get very pricy. This four piece set was only $199 – which is about the price of a single chair other places I was looking.
I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too. What’s the catch? But no. I read 25 reviews and they were all great. It’s made out of solid wood, it’s easy to put together, it’s not child sized. There is no catch. Some reviewers commented that the cushions aren’t the best quality, and I guess the aren’t as thick as some I’ve seen, but I actually prefer it that way- it looks sleek and clean. Honestly, you could use the set with no cushions at all and it’s still just as beautiful. Or I suppose you could buy replacement cushions if it really bothered you or the provided ones wore out – it would definitely still be cheaper than any other option I’ve found out there. Can you tell I’m in love?
We decided to break up the set a bit, using just the two chairs out front and the bench and table on the deck. I did purchase these two decorative pillows for the chairs (from Target) too, and I love the way they add a nice pop of color and bring the red from the planters down to the patio.
Other than that, I moved around some plants – adding two shade-loving hostas to the front porch pots (moving the same ones I planted way back when), since nothing else will grow there, and moving two large rocks from behind the tree to out in front where they can actually be seen. I also bought a few of those pretty perennials I mentioned earlier. Don’t ask me what they’re called – plants aren’t my thing and I can’t remember. I just picked ones I liked and made sure they would live in the sunny area I planned to put them.
And there you have it. A brand new rock patio with minimal spend. I’d still like to get a nice little garden stool or table to set between the chairs for drinks, books, etc, but I’m in the shopping phase. Which could take a while. So far though, we’ve already used our new patio about 80 times. That’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. We’re loving it! (Even if it’s not a real porch.)