Monday, May 18, 2015

Small but Mighty

Hey all! How was your weekend? I didn’t mean to be away on Friday – I had a family obligation that ended up going longer than planned. Sorry about that!

I’m SUPER excited about some work we had done to the front of the house last week – keep in mind this is phase one of probably ten. As you know I do things slow around here for budget and sanity reasons. :)

I’ve talked about our tiny front porch many times over the years. I mean…I’d hardly even call it a porch. It’s a landing really. But even though it’s small I’ve dressed it up over the years:small fall porch
Our front door opens in, obviously, so it’s never been a big issue to have flowers and stuff up there. The only night that worries me is Halloween – I have to take the flowers down so the kiddies can get up on the porch.

Things got interesting when we added the glass door last year (my solution to a glass front door without really having glass in my front door):
glass storm door
This door opens out, so it was a tight squeeze to get people in. I could have gotten rid of my flowers and plants, but I wanted both – pretty flowers and get people into my house comfortably. Is that really too much to ask? :)

The thing is – even with the flowers gone, it was still a little precarious. It happens every time we have people over – only one person can go up or down the steps at once. It was last year sometime when I started dreaming up a solution and I finally got the ball rolling a few weeks ago.

Our steps were ridiculously tiny for our house. When I started really looking at it I realized how goofy small they were. They were pulling away from the foundation quite a bit too – there was at least an inch between them and the house. But they just always felt unsafe to me because they were so thin. (I love the depth of each tread though – that part we kept.)

So last week the concrete company came to start the process. We had the first of our azalea bushes removed (the biggest one) and put it in the back. The rest will be moving back there too (I plan do to that part) and will be replaced with evergreen bushes that stay green all winter long. (More on that later.)

Our burning bush that was by the front steps was removed because it was almost dead from bugs that look like scale. (If parts of your bushes aren’t blooming look for that – you can kill the bugs if it’s not too far along, but ours was toast.) When they were done we were left with this:
replacing concrete steps
You can really see how small the steps are here! They took the railing off and then poured the new, much wider steps.

We couldn’t walk on the new ones for a few days, so I got some other stuff done that I’ve been meaning to take care of. The teeny tiny ceiling on our teeny tiny porch has been looking pretty gross for the last few years:

I scraped the old paint, cleaned everything and then painted it in a light blue:
blue porch ceiling
I’ve seen this done on big porches and not only does it look nice, it’s supposed to keep the bugs away. Bugs love to get up inside this area so we’ll see if it does any good. Either way it’s much cleaner and prettier now!

I also cleaned the light fixture glass. While I was up there I took down our house numbers (they used to hang above our front door). They were brass (really hard to see), and were a mess:
spray painting brass
I cleaned them off and sprayed them in oil rubbed bronze to go with the rest of the hardware on the front of the house. I hung them up in a different spot where they’re much easier to see.

And of course, the flag came out. I feel like summer starts when the flag is waving again! The new steps make such a HUGE difference!:
widen front steps
Originally I was going to place the planters on either side again, but because I had them take the steps out to the left quite a bit more (I would have gone further to the right too, but I didn’t want to have to mess with the gutter) it worked out so much better to place them on the left going up the steps.
I am SO thrilled with it so far! I can’t even tell you how nice it is just to run up and down these and not feel like you’re going to fall off the side. :)

We didn’t have them extend the sidewalk part yet because we’re still deciding on some other changes we may make. Depending on what we do the sidewalk will either look different or we’ll have that extended:
widening concrete steps
The cement steps will be a different color for awhile but hopefully that will blend better with some time. If not I may stain all of it.

They’re back today to put the railing back up but…I really don’t want it. :) A few of you have commented over the years that we should take it down off the old steps, and I agreed, but because they were so small it didn’t feel like the best idea. Now these just feel safer in general, so I hate to add it back. My husband thinks it’s best to have it for safety reasons and I’m pretty sure we have to do it to meet code, so it will be reinstalled.

It’s still going to look SO much better!:
small front porch
I grabbed a few shots at night too – I love our house with the landscaping lights I told you about last week:
cottage shutters on house
It feels more grand and just fits much better with the house. No more teeny tiny steps!

I LOVE our azalea bushes, but as I mentioned, those will be moved to the back. They only bloom about two weeks out of the year and from December to April they are really thin and not so attractive. The lilies I have planted in there have been over taken by the bushes, so those will be moved too.

We need to have our exterior paint trim painted SO bad – we were told by a friend it’s to the point that the wood may have to be replaced soon if we don’t do it. So that’s on the list for this summer too. Who knows if it will all happen, but I’m thrilled with our new steps!:
wider concrete steps off porch
Here’s a before and after for you:
replacing concrete stepswiden front steps
LOVE it!!

I’ve gotten a ton done outside lately – now I’m moving back in. :) I have a big project I’d like to get done inside that front door, but I think it’s going to have to wait till next month now. It involves ripping up all of this tile:
dresser in foyer
Wish me luck. :)

Do you have a big front porch? Or a tiny one like ours? Any solutions you’ve come up with to make it work better?

37 comments:

  1. I have a landing as well. Ours is just a smidgen bigger. I hear you with the issue of opening the door as we have that same issue. I have the same color front door and storm door. :)

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  2. Love! Love! Love! The new stairs and the evergreens. Where did you get the flower basket hanging on your front door? It's beautiful

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    1. Sorry I missed this Melissa! It's from Southern Living at Home but I don't think they are operating anymore. I bet you could find one on ebay? (It's called the door bucket.)

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  3. I would like to know where you got that flower basket hanging on your front door as well. It is so pretty! I hope that I can find something like that here in Canada.

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    1. That was an item from Southern Living at Home (I used to sell it way back in the day). It's the door bucket but I don't think they are operating anymore. Maybe check on ebay?

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    2. thanks so much I will check.

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  4. Our past home had a grand front porch and we loved it... sat on it often and watched the world go by. Now our current home has a front porch that has very little depth to it. We did have the front sidewalk done and added a step down which made it much better for not only guests, but for our own safety as we grow older. The porch still has too little depth and someday we hope to make a change... you know, after we do the other bazillion changes to the house first. LOL Your front porch and steps are now lovely! So much nicer!!

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  5. I did the same thing and widened the walk as well. Best investment EVER.

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  6. Oh, Sarah - I have the same issue with a tiny top step. The screen door swings out so far that you actually have to step off the top step (arms full of groceries, no less) in order to get past that door, then step back up to open the inner door. Pain! If you don't mind me asking, how much did this concrete project cost? I'd love to do the same as you - and rip out some junipers at the same time!

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    1. Hello Kathy! I don't know the exact cost just yet -- we had it quoted with some mulching and tree maintenance. Once I get the final bill I can let you know. Do you want to send me an email?

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    2. Hi Sarah! Thanks for responding, but I guess the email's not necessary. Your project so inspired me, I just got on the phone to call around and get some estimates from a local concrete contractor. Maybe this can happen for us this summer, too!

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    3. Yay! Good luck with it! I wish we would have done this years ago!

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  7. Love the new look/functionality-SO much better! Question: where did you put the new house numbers...I looked and looked and can't find them? LOL.

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    1. Ha! I forgot to mention I put them near the garage -- they are so much better darker! (I don't share the house numbers for security reasons.)

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    2. Now the pizza delivery guy can find your house more easily, right? Ha! Thanks for the response and you are smart to keep your location private! I love your blog: sometimes it inspires me to simply throw a load of wash in and go clean my kitchen. Small, but not unimportant stuff!

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  8. Wow that looks great!!!
    Check with your city and see what the code is....for our area if the top step is less than 38" from the ground we do not need a railing.

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  9. Hi Sarah. Wow, such an improvement-more welcoming. I know you aren't fond of the railing, but it is probably best to re-install it. We have only 1 step up to our porch, so we don't have a hand rail. However, our parents are now older and it is difficult to get them up and down that 1 step. (down is worse). Just my 2 cents.

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    1. Yes, that's why my husband pushed for it too and he was right. Even though they're wider we have elderly visitors at times and they need it. I actually like how it looks! (I shared a pic of it on Instagram.)

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  10. We finally (!) have a big, wide, wrap around front porch on our old farmhouse we bought last fall. I am still crushing on it. My problem now is what to do with the front door. We still have the original wooden front door which is mostly beautiful, but there is a large panel that is veneer and it is rippled and cracked. The entire door needs to be refinished as well. I guess I'll start by stripping it and see where to go from there.

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  11. That is how our back steps are. Why did the builders skimp so much with the concrete. Truthfully the only thing we can do is put in a deck but I want to sell the house before that happens. let the next owners do it.

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  12. Wow! That makes a big difference!

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  13. Looks great! I probably wouldn't have noticed how small it was, but you are so observant about how things work together. I agree, it looks much better without the railing. Why not just keep it in the garage until you see if it's really needed. Also could not find the house numbers. Where did you put them?

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    1. You know, I was going to hold off but went ahead and had them install it and I actually love how it looks! When we have elderly visitors it really is needed.

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    2. Oh and I didn't share the house numbers (I don't for security reasons) but they are near the garage now. :)

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  14. I wouldn't have thought the original steps were bad but you made the right decision. The new ones do look so much more substantial and welcoming. Looks fantastic!

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  15. Looks so much better! And I love the blue ceiling. I know it keeps ghosts away ;) but, I didn't know about bugs. Hope it works!!

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  16. I think it looks much better, let me know how the blue ceiling works. Have you ever thought about bringing your door - the entire entry out? It sits back a bit and it may look really great if you brought it out of the house. You could make the porch as big as you want, you could even do a large porch across the entire front if you'd like. It would really change the entire look of the front of your house. But that would be really expensive.

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    1. I have! It would be so crazy expensive though -- maybe someday down the line. :)

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  17. Makes a noticeable and safe improvement! We will be installing a glass storm door such as yours. How did you attach your floral basket!?! I have clear wreath holders, strong magnetic hook for metal doors, etc. Did you use a strong fish line for attachment? Would love to know!

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    1. Thanks! I used a command hook and attached it to the front of the glass -- it's worked great!

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  18. I have a sort-of-porch that needs to be rebuild (you can see it in my rant here: http://twopluscute.com/dear-carpenter ).

    Back to yours, the steps rock! What a difference (and much safer now). The railing is code indeed. Pitty, because your steps look gorgeous as they are. But maybe, the railling adds if placed right.

    Elaborate on the blue paint for the ceiling. Is it a special kind? Or is it the light blue color that mosquitoes avoid?

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    1. The blue is just basic blue (flat) paint I've used inside -- since this little porch doesn't get the elements it should hold up (hoping!). I'm not sure why it's supposed to work but I think it has something to do with being the color of the sky? I could be wrong. :)

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  19. Wow, what a huge difference. That was certainly money well spent. I also have a small front porch and narrow steps with no railing, and the area drives me bonkers when trying to come up with ideas to brighten/spruce it us. I also looked for the new location of your re-painted house numbers and could not find it.

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    1. I didn't include those (I don't share our the house numbers) but they are above the garage now. :)

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  20. I can't believe what a difference that makes!!! So nice!
    We had the tiny step situation a few years back and switched them out for two larger half circle steps. We were much happier too.

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  21. What a difference just a little bit of concrete can make!

    xoxo, SS


    The Southern Stylista

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  22. Wow, that's seriously an amazing improvement!
    I'm in the process of doing something similar with my house, thanks!

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