Right after we planted Round Two of our baby garden, it started to rain – and rain and rain and rain. Our garden is going nuts (yeah!), but with the rain came cold weather, and so we find ourselves wishing and hoping that one day – someday soon! – we can enjoy our front porch for the season. Oh, Chicago, didn’t you know that it’s May?
Despite this turn of events, we moved forward with a mini makeover for the front porch – more of a sprucing up, really – in the off chance we might have one warm evening (we’re still waiting). Last summer we laid the groundwork, focusing on bright! and cheery!, but this year, we wanted to give it a more relaxed feel on a minimal budget:
The more subtle color palette was completely inspired by our friends at Ace Hardware and the recent release of their new OPI paint colors by Clark+Kensington. Last year, we were turned onto our favorite black, Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine, having painted our porch swing in the popular nail hue (and our end tables and kitchen island), and this year, the deep greens and muted shades of pink from The Creative Genius collection had my heart. Below, top to bottom: Barefoot in Barcelona (OPI), Jade is the New Black (OPI), Bubble Bath (OPI) and Swiss Coffee, all by Clark+Kensington.
We picked up a handful of Ikea pots, and I just free-handed the colors using a small foam brush along the bottom third of each. Each planter got three thin coats of paint using samples of Clark+Kensington paint in a satin enamel finish before I filled them up with succulents!
We bought a 7″ plank of aspen, cut it to a 2′ length and after a quick stain job, Scott attached handles we already had on hand (from this dresser, which is still waiting on its makeover!). While our little centerpiece is cute to look at, we know we’ll need to move it to the side when the drinks are flowing (the whole point of a front porch, right?), so this will make it easy to shift it to one side or the other.
In keeping with The Creative Genius color palette, I swapped out last year’s pillow cases for new, re-using all the pillow forms but choosing softer shades of pink, purple and green for the covers, all for around $5 at H&M. The banana leaf pillow was the only splurge (worth it), with the polka dot pillow being the lucky one that made the cut. That said, and with the exception of a new swing cushion and fern by our front door, all the larger items on our porch has remained the same!
Other sources: Lulu & Georgia rug (unavailable, similar here), flea market chairs, Strathwood Rhodes coffee table (unavailable, similar here), DIY porch swing, fern planter from IKEA.
To help with your front porch sprucing (or any-of-the-things sprucing!), together with our friends at Ace, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Monday, May 18th until 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. See all the blogger projects on the Ace Pinterest page.
Last summer was the season of curb appeal for us. After the worst winter of all time in 2013 (well, we think so anyway), our manageable, short to-do for 2014 quickly spiraled, and like most Chicagoans, we were eager to make the most of the warm summer months. We poured new concrete, built new stairs, painted and stained the front porch, furnished the front porch, gave the door a new color, made a doggie pee pit and started a garden! When it became cold again, we turned towards hibernation – or kitchen mode, your call – and we’ve only recently began peeking our heads outdoors once again.
We still have a few things we didn’t finish last year – painting the new stairs comes to mind – but we’ve been the most excited about turning our attention back to the garden. Last year, we started small with a trio of boxwoods, two trees and a row of blue fescue and lavender. Our intention has always been to come back for Round Two, gather ideas for what else we like, and fill in the bare areas this year – a suggestion by the staff at a local nursery. In early April, we trimmed back the dead fescue and lavender, and as a result, our garden looked like this:
The fluffy fescue has been growing back fiercely and easily, but I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about the lavender! You can barely see that baby stumps remain, although there is some bright green poking through. Fellow lavender lovers, is this normal? (Hi, we’re new to the garden club.)
We took a few photos of our garden before heading to Christy Webber, a nursery we frequent often and cannot recommend highly enough! We must have looked confused (guilty), because we were immediately scooped up by Friendly Guy. He inspected our photos, listened to what we like and what we don’t, and we began our tour around the nursery. As we explained that this is year two for our garden and we were omg so worried about the lavender!, he promised us that we were on the right path and pointed us towards these plants: Dianthus “Firewitch” (grassy), Catmint (leafy) and a climbing Hydrangea (branchy).
Both the Dianthus and Catmint have a blue-green tint (which we love), and they’ll sprout purple and pink flowers throughout the summer season, growing taller but mostly wider. When Friendly Guy noticed the lattice behind our garden, he suggested we try something vine-like to grow upwards, which, of course! The hydrangea was our wedding flower, so it was an easy decision for us to go with that, although the blooms on the climbing hydrangea look slightly different than the traditional flower (but still very, very beautiful!). As soon as we got home, we dived right in, digging holes, fertilizing and planting!
Although it looks super twiggy right now, FG assured us that the hydrangea will take hold easily, and within a few years, we’ll be stunned at the results. In his words (or as they say?), first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps. He encouraged us by explaining that our Round One garden will be stronger next year, and a couple years from now, we should see substantial improvement overall. As the least patient person in the world, I do appreciate the slow gardening game, but come on, is it 2018 yet?
To finish, we spread a fresh layer of mulch over the entire garden bed and re-seeded the parts of our lawn that are more stubborn than the rest.
Our starting point doesn’t look terribly different than where we are now, but it does feel good knowing that we’re making strides in the right direction!
It’s so heartwarming when our neighbors stop by and take the time to point out our growing grass and our fuller garden; they ask us what projects are next on the agenda or what we’ve just finished up. If it weren’t strange to kiss our friendly neighbors or every fellow dog-walker on the street, I’d totally do it. Being able to live in this house, on this street and in our favorite part of Chicago will often times hit us like a wave of gratitude. You guys, is that what gardening does to people?
Garden therapy; I’ll take it!
If you can believe it – which, of course you can! – the workshop is finished before we can say the same about our kitchen. We had been sort of joking all along that it could happen, but we didn’t think it’d actually be the case. (In related news, door, get here.)
In all fairness, this has been the quickest room in our house to turn around, coming in at less than a month from start to finish. Once our pocket door had been installed, it was mostly a matter of prepping our blank slate with the installation of new baseboards and a window sill, fresh paint on the ceiling and walls, and coming up with a storage plan. The organization itself was the biggest task of all, but, organization! That’s my idea of a good time, so, let’s not call it a task at all, right?
This teeny room off the kitchen has served as our tool dumping ground since the day we moved in almost two years ago. There were good days and there were bad days, but when the going got tough, the thought alone of hunting down the wood glue could dissuade me from starting a project at all!
Now, we do that ridiculous thing where we walk into the room and yell for the other – Kim! Come here! Look at how clean!, Scott says. The view from the kitchen is so good, that we’ve even been leaving the pocket door partially open; it’s a shame to keep that hard work behind a closed door:
The working side of our teeny shop space was built around our work bench flea find and is highlighted by an oversized DIY tool print. An additional shelf above the thick butcher block holds spare fasteners and a charging station for our power tools and a small task lamp was mounted on the wall to allow for as much working space as possible. To the left, we crafted the perfect space to sketch our ideas and jot down weekend to-dos – the heart of the room, really!
Our wall-mounted vacuum has gotten so much use already, from small sanding projects to the dust we’ve accumulated while pulling this room together in the first place! Here, you can also catch a glimpse of our ladder, which is stashed on these heavy duty hooks, screwed right into the studs. I love that it’s completely out of the way both visually and physically, and Scott can just reach it to pull it down safely.
On the opposite side of the room, our floating shelves are handling all the heavy lifting! We spent an evening purging items for donation, sale or FREE! in the alley (alley finds: arguably a top 5 reason to live in Chicago!), and we stored the rest on the shelves for easy access. The larger black bins hold paint and tiling supplies, whereas the smaller cubbies are separated into tapes, glues, caulks and putty knives – to name a few.
Our newest obsession is this Vittles Vault pet food storage (bottom left), which is within reach of Jack and CC’s doggie dishes. It holds an entire bag of kibble, keeps it air tight, and we’re no longer fussing with massive bags that are impossible to seal between feedings!
The finishing touch for the room was this art I pulled together last week (fun and simple DIY to come). During those crazy days of demolition, you might remember that our contractor saved a handful of 100-year-old nails that were, at one point, holding up the roof over our head. These things are massive, and so, so awesome.
Having this indoor workshop is a game changer, no doubt. Better yet, it gave us a little taste of what’s to come once we tackle the garage – a space so horrific, it is quite literally what my nightmares are made of. (And yet, we can’t wait to get our hands on it!)
But first, can we please finish the kitchen?
Sources: Paint color: Stratton Blue by Ben Moore, color matched to Valspar / Work bench: flea find / Kraft paper roll: DIY (see here) / Tool art print: DIY (see + download here) / Small shelf: 2×8 + Ikea Valter brackets / Chalkboard skull: iamhome / Plant pot: Ikea / Oil can: thrifted / White task lamp: Ranarp, Ikea / Black stool: Overstock / Overhead light: flea find / Vacuum: Ace Hardware / Floating shelves: DIY (see here) / Small cube storage: Uline / Ladder storage: Wall mount hooks / Shadowbox frame for nail art: Crate & Barrel
PS… Thank you all a thousand times for your input on the Milo debate! You’ve given us way too much to think about, and I might have ordered even more fabric samples. We’ll get there eventually; we will.
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