Thanksgiving Centerpiece

November 25, 2010   //  Posted in: Decor, Holiday-Related Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Leaf (sorry) it to a 4-year old to design a vibrant, fun centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner. Simply, a handful of the brightest yellow leaves fell into my backyard, and were carefully collected by handy girl. It was her suggestion to use them as decoration on my table, and I had just the glass jar to fit the occasion. Coupled with a white platters and plates, jute placemats, and a few candles, this will be a sweet, seasonal accessory for the holiday.

Handpicked leaves make a lovely Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Goodbye, Cranberry Shutters!

November 24, 2010   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Proud to say that we crossed another to-do off the list this weekend! In negotiating my upcoming siding project (!), I knocked a few hundred dollars off the quote by offering to remove shutters, front porch and obstructing light fixtures prior to the crew arriving on site (seriously – do what you can to help out and speed up the crew and it will pay off!). I already wrote about how the front porch came down, and soon I’ll write about my plan to replace it, but in the meantime, I had to keep my promise and finish the rest of the stuff I negotiated. So… I tackled the removal of the shutters that were hung on the front of the house — Here are some before/after shots:

  • House with shutters, BEFORE.
  • House with no shutters, but before the new siding project began! Huge difference.

Hard to tell in these photos, but the siding was quite dingy and discolored beneath the shutters – if it wasn’t like that, I would have removed these shutters much sooner! I’m re-invigorated by the clean appearance (I really disliked the cranberry red shutters, although I hope someone else on Craigslist loves them). ;)

More to come, friends.

Front Porch: A New Vision

November 24, 2010   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

I was never able to figure out exactly why the hardwood front porch was designed like it was. The front of the house has a small overhang measuring about 4’x6′, which is not unlike many of the other American Foursquare homes in the neighborhood. Mine, oddly enough, had a small front porch affixed that measured 9.5′ wide x 5.5′ deep, with stairs extending out an additional 4′ into the driveway. The proportion of the porch to the house was way off – it was an eyesore, even though it was in good, solid condition. As you can see in the first photo below (my “before” shots), there isn’t even enough space in that open landing area to have a cafe table or chair, so what was the point? I knew I wouldn’t have been able to afford a whole new porch that extended the length of the house with a new, deeper overhang (but it would have been cool), so I began brainstorming other ideas. I considered my options to hide (painted neutral/block with shrubs) or replace the structure for a good 18-months before I finally formulated a plan. Here are some before pictures of the front porch:

  • Before: Old Front Porch
  • BEFORE: Side view of old porch.

My decisions (and the removal of the existing porch) had to be expedited to accommodate the timing of my upcoming siding project (!) and my contractor had strongly suggested that the porch be taken away from the house to allow his crew to side appropriately behind it. Being the way I am, I offered to do that myself in order to save the crew a few hours of extra work, and knocked my quote down a little bit (do what you can all by yourself!).

I had a few plans in mind:

Plan #1: Replacing the wood with a solid cement base. Both contractors I spoke with educated me about the need to do a base beneath the frost line to support the weight of such a porch. That requirement (for permit purposes) really jacked up the costs of the job. The quotes ranged from $3,100 – 4,500.

Plan #2: Purchase a preform cement landing/staircase. The company I spoke with is local (stay local for projects like this to save big on delivery fees) and quoted me considerably less, but warned that there would be a lot of extra work on the front end to adjust my driveway area and level it appropriately. Their quote was $1,350, which was still more than I wanted to spend.

Plan #3: Design and build ourselves. It had occurred to me that maybe having cement leading into a asphalt driveway wouldn’t be pretty, but by purchasing lumber and saving on labor, I knew I could create a custom structure for a few hundred dollars.

In the interest of time and money, I’m currently working towards completing Plan #3. A hand-sketched design is still to come, but it’s going to be smaller, simplified, with matching railings similar to the ones I’m going to install on the back deck pergolas (inspired by the fabulously sleek Peter Kirsch-Korff).

Much like the back deck, I considered disassembling the porch by hand to sell on Craigslist… but it was late November in upstate NY and I decided just to post a photo of the porch and let some lucky soul come and remove it themselves (free removal for me, free lumber for them). It worked out well (and they left the posts, so that I can use them for the new construction). Here are some photos of the during and after:

  • Craigslist hire removing my front porch - steps and handails came off first, then the base was lifted off in one big piece.
  • Bye, old porch. The whole thing is in that small trailer.
  • Front porch, gone. I'll be building a new porch in it's place once the siding has been replaced.

Once it was all cleared out, I was left with this as the existing structure; the posts will be used to support the new porch, which will attach right to the house once the new siding is up. Stay tuned for more construction!