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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!

OPI-porch-03 OPI-porch-04 OPI-porch-05

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.

OPI-porch-06 OPI-porch-07

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!

OPI-porch-09 OPI-porch-10 OPI-porch-11

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.


  • Danielle - May 13, 2015 - 6:38 AM

    Your porch looks so beautiful! I’m always so envious of houses that have great porches — or any porch, really, since our house doesn’t have one!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 9:36 AM

      The porch was a HUGE selling point for us! We use it endlessly during the summer months.ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - May 13, 2015 - 6:41 AM

    I love the colors! I just recently bought a new place that needs completely repainted (the owners looooved sage green) and our small town luckily has an ace hardware!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - May 13, 2015 - 6:46 AM

    Ahhh so excited! Love the OPI colors! We have a home at is over 130 years old with a screened in porch. We can’t wait to spruce it up a bit!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Brown - May 13, 2015 - 6:47 AM

    On my mind today…dealing with the gardening and changes I need to make to conserve more water.ReplyCancel

  • Kyley - May 13, 2015 - 7:07 AM

    Im so glad spring is finally here in PA. Hoping it gets to you soon too so you can enjoy that lovely porch!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 13, 2015 - 7:08 AM

    We are in desperate need of a back porch makeover!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - May 13, 2015 - 7:46 AM

    The OPI colors are great. Part of the fun of treating myself to a mani or pedi is picking out a polish color usually just cause I like the name! Love your porch. Looks so cozy for a cocktail on a warm summer evening!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - May 13, 2015 - 7:46 AM

    Love the mixture of color and pattern! It looks so welcoming.ReplyCancel

  • Mami2jcn - May 13, 2015 - 7:58 AM

    We just moved 5 minutes away from an Ace Hardware Store and I’d love to try it!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - May 13, 2015 - 7:59 AM

    It’s still chilly here in MN too! Can’t wait to do more outside…could use some updates.ReplyCancel

  • Christy - May 13, 2015 - 8:02 AM

    I love having a cute outdoor space! Your’s is adorable.ReplyCancel

  • Misty - May 13, 2015 - 8:17 AM

    We have a really small outdoor space/deck…but your totally making me wanna update that tiny little space into something cozy and colourful!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 9:37 AM

      No matter the size, it will be worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - May 13, 2015 - 8:23 AM

    I feel like I am at my local Ace at least 3 times a week so this would definitely come in handy!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - May 13, 2015 - 8:28 AM

    I really want to hang out on your front porch. The swing is my favorite. I wish I could have a front porch swing. Heck, I wish I had a front porch. We just have a deck.ReplyCancel

  • Nathan - May 13, 2015 - 8:30 AM

    We need to add color like this to our outside space!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Allmen - May 13, 2015 - 8:40 AM

    I love the bands of color!ReplyCancel

  • Loryn - May 13, 2015 - 8:53 AM

    This is inspiring me to get moving on my front porch. I inherited an awesome porch swing that my uncle built. I need to get it refurbished and start using it!ReplyCancel

  • Kaitie - May 13, 2015 - 8:53 AM

    Your porch looks awesome! Just the kick in the pants I need to get mine in shape. Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • Ariella - May 13, 2015 - 9:04 AM

    Seeing as we’ve just purchased a new table and chairs from Ikea (seriously – best deal ever – six chairs and a table for $350!), we could use a little paint to spruce up the area around the new stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Amber - May 13, 2015 - 9:07 AM

    This just reaffirms the feeling I’ve had lately that I need more succulents in my life.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - May 13, 2015 - 9:11 AM

    Bubblebath has been my favourite polish for ever, I super love it on the pots or maybe on my bathroom wall…. hmmmm….ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 9:38 AM

      A bathroom wall would be GORGEOUS. Or a laundry room? Or little girl’s bedroom? It’s so soft and subtle, and I just love that color so much.ReplyCancel

  • susan - May 13, 2015 - 9:12 AM

    That’s an eye catching porch! The colors look great.ReplyCancel

  • meridith - May 13, 2015 - 9:15 AM

    hope to have a porch someday xoReplyCancel

  • Heather - May 13, 2015 - 9:27 AM

    I have been on the lookout for some good front porch inspiration and I love the painted stripes on the planters.ReplyCancel

  • Thom - May 13, 2015 - 9:32 AM

    Planter tray is a nice touch. I think I might make one like that but for our useless outdoor ottoman/table that’s spongy in the middle.ReplyCancel

  • Amy S - May 13, 2015 - 9:36 AM

    Very pretty! We don’t have a front porch, but we do have a mudroom which, when cleaned up, can *almost* pass for a sunroom.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - May 13, 2015 - 9:40 AM

    Love the colors!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - May 13, 2015 - 9:40 AM

    Love the tray underneath the planters! Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Laura C - May 13, 2015 - 9:44 AM

    Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby C - May 13, 2015 - 9:53 AM

    It’s May here too in the mountains of Utah – which means that while we’d LOVE to get out on our porch more, the weather is just too unpredictable to get out there as often as we’d like. I know come August, we’ll be DYING of the heat – but for now, I’d just love a little sunshine & warmth to get us started!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie - May 13, 2015 - 10:02 AM

    Can’t wait to do some of our own yard renovations!ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Wellman - May 13, 2015 - 10:11 AM

    Anything on my mind huh? At the moment I’m contemplating how well one of my single guy friends would mesh with one of my single girl pals…maybe play a little cupid <3ReplyCancel

  • Lucas - May 13, 2015 - 10:12 AM

    I have been staring out at my deck waiting for Chicago to wake up and realize its May not March. I love the palate you used!ReplyCancel

  • Nate - May 13, 2015 - 10:18 AM

    So good! Ikea always has some gems hidden up their sleeves…ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - May 13, 2015 - 10:31 AM

    Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - May 13, 2015 - 10:41 AM

    So I’ve been wondering…do you have power receptacles outdoors? Our house doesn’t have any and I want to change that so we can work on our computers outdoors (I work from home, and it would just be lovely to be able to enjoy spring weather while I’m busy with work).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 11:59 AM

      Not in the front – at least, not yet. We do in the back, but it’s a horrible, ugly space! For now, the front porch will simply be the safe haven from any work! :)ReplyCancel

  • kara - May 13, 2015 - 10:47 AM

    porch looks great! i’m dorkily excited because my neighborhood is getting an Ace – again! our ace closed last year to make way for a dollar store (?!) but is reopening a few doors down. an unexpected surprise and welcome in our age of home depot and amazon.ReplyCancel

  • stephanie m - May 13, 2015 - 10:47 AM

    so cute! such a great set up for the summer, when that warmer weather finally arrives.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 13, 2015 - 10:48 AM

    LOVING those succulents and your pot diy. Such a cheap, fun, and easy idea.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Flasche - May 13, 2015 - 10:52 AM

    Love the new spring colors, and am going to steal your pretty planter ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle V. - May 13, 2015 - 10:54 AM

    So cute! I’ve been trying to spruce up our outdoor spaces this year, too. It’s hard to keep up with! Thanks for the giveaway. :)ReplyCancel

  • allison h - May 13, 2015 - 11:08 AM
  • Maria S - May 13, 2015 - 11:11 AM

    Oh, those colors are just lovely! Everything is coming together to well, you’ve definitely inspired me to do some work on my own outdoor space! Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - May 13, 2015 - 11:12 AM

    Great idea, now I’m going to drag out my spare paint and spruce up my terra cotta planters.ReplyCancel

    • Amy - May 13, 2015 - 11:15 AM

      I also have to add that I am so jealous of your front porch. We have a stoop which we sit on but isn’t great for dining. An outdoor living room is so nice.ReplyCancel

  • Molly W - May 13, 2015 - 11:14 AM

    As a fellow midwesterner I can share your hopes for as many nice days as possible to enjoy the outdoors! Looks like you have a lovely space ready to enjoy when the opportunity strikes!ReplyCancel

  • Marsha - May 13, 2015 - 11:31 AM

    What a cute porch! i would live out there!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - May 13, 2015 - 11:36 AM

    Yep, I’ve been fighting with myself about what pattern to do on my outdoor seat cushions but this just sealed the deal. banana leaf print!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - May 13, 2015 - 11:47 AM

    The porch looks so inviting. Thanks for reminding me that a painting update is needed on my pots!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - May 13, 2015 - 11:49 AM

    I need to spruce up my ba ck deck sooo badly it is starting to look very tiredReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - May 13, 2015 - 11:57 AM

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to pot a new plant that I got, and by how to pot I mean how to make a plain terra-cotta pot not look so plain jane. Think I just found out how!

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  • cassie @ primitive & proper - May 13, 2015 - 12:13 PM

    love how this turned out, kim, and i saw the same thing you did with that palette and used it as my inspiration, too- succulents!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - May 13, 2015 - 12:53 PM

    So adorable!
    I’m excited to be flying into Chicago tomorrow thru the weekend, I can’t wait to go exploring. I’m hoping the weather will be nice too!ReplyCancel

  • kathyg - May 13, 2015 - 1:07 PM

    I love Ace Hardware! I love to paint, anything and everything.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer C - May 13, 2015 - 1:33 PM

    I love your porch. I need to get my porch usable before it gets too hot to enjoy.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - May 13, 2015 - 1:34 PM

    I never knew OPI had paint colors. This is amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • Chaney - May 13, 2015 - 1:37 PM

    love those little pots! The whole porch looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Missy - May 13, 2015 - 2:01 PM

    Love that new green paint color!ReplyCancel

  • Molly - May 13, 2015 - 2:06 PM

    Love these! I am going to make these this weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - May 13, 2015 - 2:10 PM

    LOVE the pink green combo.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn C - May 13, 2015 - 3:02 PM

    I too have those pots and they’ve been sitting in my garage. Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - May 13, 2015 - 3:11 PM

    Great Giveaway! I like the painted plants. I recently rub n buffed the bottom of a little planter just like yours – just need to add something inside!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 13, 2015 - 3:31 PM

    Looks great! Love the paint colors and the pillows!ReplyCancel

  • Anna J - May 13, 2015 - 3:33 PM

    Love the new colors you incorporated! I’ve got some pots I need to spruce up with some bright colors!ReplyCancel

  • Ro Osborn - May 13, 2015 - 3:41 PM

    Your porch is looking great!ReplyCancel

  • Samantha - May 13, 2015 - 3:41 PM

    I’ve been trying to find somewhere to incorporate “Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine” in my apartment – still haven’t nailed down where yet!ReplyCancel

  • Chelly - May 13, 2015 - 3:43 PM

    Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Renee - May 13, 2015 - 3:50 PM

    I love the succulents!!ReplyCancel

  • Mary G - May 13, 2015 - 4:21 PM

    you can never have too many succulents can you? i love the colors, but especially the Barefoot in Barcelona (OPI). it would be so fun to do this project and pick some of these bright colors to liven up my own home.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 4:29 PM

      Right?! It’s the perfect dusty pink. I wish I could just buy a whole bunch of velvet in that exact color and upholster everything in sight!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - May 13, 2015 - 4:32 PM

    Sigh. I’m so in love with your porch. That swing. Those plants. The colors. All of it. Well done.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - May 13, 2015 - 5:12 PM

    Love the porch!! Seeing it is getting me inspired to start working on mine, since this weather hasn’t done any motivating, has it? What gives, Chicago?
    Also, how is it that I never knew that H&M sells housewares?? Those pillows are great, even better is you guys and your ability to mix and match colors and patterns so darn perfectly!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 13, 2015 - 6:19 PM

      Almost all of our pillow cases are from H&M! So inexpensive, so I don’t feel terrible if I want to change it up!ReplyCancel

      • Katherine - May 14, 2015 - 2:15 PM

        Can you shop for them in their location in the city rather than online only?
        I haven’t been in to H&M in ages… seems like a return trip is in order.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 14, 2015 - 2:20 PM

          We don’t have a H&M home store here (I don’t think), but I just do it online – their shipping is super low!ReplyCancel

  • tammigirl - May 13, 2015 - 5:45 PM

    Today I’m thinking about my daughter’s upcoming wedding. She graduated from college on Sunday and now we are ready to go into planning mode!ReplyCancel

  • Kara - May 13, 2015 - 5:54 PM

    Agreed, the leaves pillow was a great choice. Such a cute punch of bright and cheery!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth G. - May 13, 2015 - 7:34 PM

    This is a nice giveaway. Thanks for the chance!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - May 13, 2015 - 8:16 PM

    I have a few of those same pots from IKEA, though I have the giant size. I am totally going to spruce them up with some paint!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly D - May 13, 2015 - 8:26 PM

    Spring cleaning is on my mind. I am trying to get my house organized.ReplyCancel

  • […] Yellow Brick Home always makes me wish I had more of a DIY thumb, but their latest post made me wish I had a front porch that I could enjoy. Click through to see why + enter a little giveaway they’ve got going on! […]ReplyCancel

  • Susan C - May 14, 2015 - 12:22 AM

    I painted my flower pots as well this week! We are currently working on adding a wooden countertop over our washer/dryer–our first wood project. Next will be floating shelves in the WC of the master bath. Love yours in your tool room. Gotta be the nicest tool room ever!ReplyCancel

  • spiffikins - May 14, 2015 - 12:44 AM

    Love your succulents! It’s been colder than normal here as well – I’m ready for warmer weather any time now!ReplyCancel

  • Britt C - May 14, 2015 - 6:56 AM

    Thanks for the giveaway!ReplyCancel

  • Tori - May 14, 2015 - 9:07 AM

    I can’t believe there are OPI wall paint colors available… last year I needed to pick out carpet for a stair runner, so I painted my nails the same color as my walls and went to the flooring store. I thought I was a genius! haha But it looks like other people had the same idea. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - May 14, 2015 - 9:23 AM

    I have an ACE right by me, I could definitely use some cash to spend there!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - May 14, 2015 - 9:39 AM

    Love the subtle pops of color on the planters but love those side chairs even more! We’ve been fortunate enough in southern Kentucky to be able to enjoy our porch most every night. Fingers crossed the weather will soon begin to cooperate in Chicago too!ReplyCancel

  • Haley - May 14, 2015 - 9:45 AM

    love your porch! We just bought some Craigslist table and chairs for our deck. I can’t wait for a break in the rain so we can use it.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine M - May 14, 2015 - 12:00 PM

    This is an awesome giveaway! Ace Hardware is like a second home for us. We too bought an old house that needed ever room gutted!ReplyCancel

  • Jen N. - May 14, 2015 - 12:21 PM

    I would give anything for a porch!ReplyCancel

  • alex - May 14, 2015 - 12:37 PM

    having some serious garden envy my yard and garden looks horrible right now and is need of some serious love!ReplyCancel

  • Prissy - May 14, 2015 - 12:41 PM

    Love everything about this space.Those chairs are to die for. I love clean simple lines. I’m in the process of making over my patio as well.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 14, 2015 - 1:07 PM

    I love the pots! They look awesome. That banana leaf pillow is killer!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - May 14, 2015 - 1:52 PM

    Love the mini-makeover. Makes me want to get my rear in gear and make my porch a place I actually want to hang out on!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - May 14, 2015 - 1:53 PM

    I’m working on updating my porch right now, too. I’ve started with a dark stain on the decking and rails, and haven’t a clue where I’ll go from there! :)ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Nudelberg - May 14, 2015 - 2:06 PM

    The porch looks awesome and I love the relaxed color palette!!ReplyCancel

  • Ginny - May 14, 2015 - 2:40 PM

    Our porch needs a major upgrade! From the dying wood to the crappy furniture, it’s my dream to make our “alley patio” a nice space, despite the location. Love yours!!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - May 14, 2015 - 3:51 PM

    Love the pops of color! And the plants on a plank is a great idea. :)ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - May 14, 2015 - 4:39 PM

    Just discovered you all not so long ago, and am enjoying the blog a lot! thanks for the giveaway!ReplyCancel

  • Erin Ellis - May 14, 2015 - 5:14 PM

    Yay! It’s raining!!!! (Says a So California drought girl).
    Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
    ErinLoves2Run at gmail dot comReplyCancel

  • KathleenC - May 14, 2015 - 7:22 PM

    Such a nice front porch! And I love the succulent centerpiece… I would love all the different textured, shaped and colorful plants that are out there.ReplyCancel

  • David - May 14, 2015 - 7:33 PM

    I love Ace. They have a location within walking distance of my house.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley C - May 14, 2015 - 8:56 PM

    I’m waiting for it to be nice again so we can go outside and enjoy the sun :)


  • Bridgette - May 15, 2015 - 1:56 AM

    I need to make a little bench for my stoop…great outdoor space!ReplyCancel

  • nicole dziedzic - May 15, 2015 - 5:14 AM

    Something on my mind today is i can’t wait to get outside and plant some flowers.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn - May 15, 2015 - 7:32 AM

    We also can’t wait for good weather to hang on your porch with you guys! ;) Looks good!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Wood - May 15, 2015 - 7:36 AM

    Your porch looks so cute! I need to get going on updating my outdoor space and get it ready for Summer!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - May 15, 2015 - 7:42 AM

    Isn’t it the best to get ready for warm weather fun and relaxation?!?! I’ve been filling pots with flowers, sprucing up patio furniture all with the hope of enjoying them with family and friends.ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - May 15, 2015 - 7:58 AM

    I love that it is getting warmer outside and I cannot wait to go for runs outside.ReplyCancel

  • Kat - May 15, 2015 - 8:36 AM

    The OPI colors look really great on your pots. I’ll go to ACE this weekend to check out the full spectrum. Have a great weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Carley - May 15, 2015 - 9:49 AM

    I love those colors on the pots!ReplyCancel

  • emily j - May 15, 2015 - 11:35 AM

    Love it! Such beautiful colors!ReplyCancel

  • David Holder - May 15, 2015 - 2:17 PM

    Love the pots & plants!ReplyCancel

  • Chessie - May 15, 2015 - 6:35 PM

    We live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so ace is my FAVORITE store. I have been wanting to check out the OPI colors, they look great!ReplyCancel

  • annalynne km - May 15, 2015 - 8:50 PM

    Beautiful color pallet, especially in that last image! I’m excited to start on more outdoor projects like this. Love your hanging porch swing. :)ReplyCancel

  • iamalighthouse - May 15, 2015 - 10:23 PM

    Love the blue green color you used and that you painted pots. Lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Karrie - May 15, 2015 - 11:03 PM

    This post makes me want to paint the bathroom :)ReplyCancel

  • Minta Boggs - May 15, 2015 - 11:06 PM

    I absolutely love my roses in my garden they are pink and magenta colors.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - May 16, 2015 - 5:13 AM

    Love the way your porch came together. Those OPI paint colors are so fun!ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Grantham - May 16, 2015 - 8:04 AM

    I have never owned succulents, unless aloe plants count. They are so lovely that I think I will give some a try. Love the paint colors.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa Madrigal - May 16, 2015 - 10:57 AM

    It needs to stop raining so I can work on my garden.ReplyCancel

  • Rosie - May 16, 2015 - 3:06 PM

    Ace just bought a hardware store near me, and I would be soo excited to use a gift card there!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - May 16, 2015 - 4:40 PM

    I just spend about 2 hours in the backyard planting flowers and seeds.ReplyCancel

  • Dani P. - May 17, 2015 - 11:14 AM

    I love the board you made for the centerpiece! I really just love $0 projects :)ReplyCancel

  • Trinitee - May 17, 2015 - 11:44 PM

    Your porch looks so inviting! I love the paint colors you used on the pots. Its a good thing our local Ace is just down the street. I see cute pots like yours on our porch in the near future!ReplyCancel

  • Christin - - May 18, 2015 - 10:47 AM

    Great job! I love the colors and have been loving succulents. I have such a brown thumb when it comes to plants but I’ve had some luck with these . Just wish I had a cute porch to decorate!ReplyCancel

  • Marybeth - May 18, 2015 - 10:51 AM

    Your porch looks amazing! I love all the pillows and plants. That will be such a cozy place during the summer. :)ReplyCancel

  • charlotte m. - May 18, 2015 - 2:48 PM

    I love the stripe of color on the pots. What a great idea.ReplyCancel



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!

garden-start-03 garden-start-05

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!

garden-start-10 garden-start-11 garden-start-12 garden-start-13 garden-start-14 garden-start-16

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!

  • Kathryn - May 7, 2015 - 7:40 AM

    Lovely. Be careful with the catmint though, it will quickly take over.ReplyCancel

  • erica - May 7, 2015 - 8:04 AM

    hi! looks great! im curious what the two small trees on each side are? thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:04 AM

      Hi Erica! They’re called Juniper Wichita Evergreens.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis - May 7, 2015 - 8:15 AM

    You’re off to a great start! It’s good that you’re planning your garden in phases as you’ll be able to see how it transforms and matures over the years. And gardening always brings the community together (plant swap anyone?)!

    FG sounds like a great resource for you guys, he’s pointing you in the right direction with your plant selections (he’s a keeper!). I love working with smaller, local nurseries because you can find someone who is knowledgeable and fun to work with.

    Super jealous that you have a climbing hydrangea!:) I had one in my previous yard “climbing” up a tree. (Can’t grow them that successfully in TX.) And FG is right, by year 3 it will look spectacular.

    Good luck and have fun with your garden!

    Ps- I echo Kathryn…careful with the catnip, it can take over. When needed, just divide it and give to neighbors or plant elsewhere in your yard.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:04 AM

      Thanks so much, Phyllis! We cannot WAIT for the hydrangea to grow, grow, grow! AH. Also, who knew we might be the people who could split up our garden and pass it along? Gardening is something I never thought I’d get into, but now that we have this home, it’s such a great way to spend a Saturday, haha.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - May 7, 2015 - 8:24 AM

    It looks great! I love dianthus. Keep an eye on that catmint, though; it spreads aggressively.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - May 7, 2015 - 8:46 AM

    I love the dianthus, but only like 4 out of the 8 we planted last year appear to be coming back after the winter (we’re in Evanston.) We have really great luck with the Sedum we planted though, and it comes in lots of greenish colors – there is a purple variety (Matronum maybe?) that’s awesome.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:02 AM

      When we were at the nursery, both Scott and I were drawn to the sedum, but it’s mostly a full sun plant, correct? We have mostly shade, with sun in the afternoon!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby - May 7, 2015 - 8:59 AM

    I’ll third that the catmint will take over if you let it. However, Phyllis has a great suggestion – when it gets too big, just divide it up & gift your friends, family members, etc with your leftovers. I got my plants from my mom when she divided hers up, and every few years I give some to anyone willing to take it! The good news is, you cannot kill it!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:06 AM

      Thanks, all, for the catnip warning! We’ll definitely keep an eye on it. Right now, we want these plants to start spreading, so the thought of getting to the point where we’re dividing it up sounds dreamy – ha! How fun to be able to pass the overgrowth along.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ - May 7, 2015 - 9:01 AM

    Love it! We’re slowly working on our front yard landscaping too, but we’re “borrowing” plants from our backyard (where the previous owner installed a huge varied ornamental garden) to use instead of buying new ones. I love boxwoods – we’re eventually planning to put a few in front of our house too. Have you thought about hostas? There are about a million varieties and they are low-maintenance. We’ve got them everywhere around our house (and our neighborhood – they’re popular!).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:09 AM

      Awesome – free garden!

      We have a foot wide ugly strip of dirt/mulch along our fence to the right of our house, and we’ll definitely be planting hostas there… eventually!ReplyCancel

  • susan - May 7, 2015 - 9:17 AM

    i love catmint. it has lovely foliage and flowers! however, my cat loves it too; she climbs right into the clumps and rolls all over it. i have to admit it’s kind of cute…

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:20 AM

      Oh, geez, I’d pay to see that. Cute kitty!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Z - May 7, 2015 - 9:49 AM

    Oh man, I love when home decor/improvement bloggers blog about their yards and their “yardening” as I call it. Because of your post, I now know that the plants in the yard of our new-to-us house is catmint! So good to learn these things, ya know? :) PS: your garden looks great!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 10:36 AM

      LOL – we’re totally yardening! I’m going to adopt that phrase.ReplyCancel

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres - May 7, 2015 - 9:50 AM

    My garden turns three this year, and I can attest that you will see a huge improvement in just a few years–and it won’t seem that long once you’re there! Every night when I get home I amble along the edge of the garden to see what else is growing, so I totally understand where you’re coming from in your new found love of gardening. For hostas and other plants, you might be able to find people who want to split plants and pass them along for cheap or even free. I’ve actually bought very few plants, but my gardens are filling up nicely.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 12:03 PM

      I think we’ll get some hostas from Scott’s mom. There just aren’t many homes in Chicago with big gardens, so I think finding people locally is a little harder than some places… Actually, I wonder if anyone ever uses Craigslist for splitting their gardens?!ReplyCancel

      • Phyllis - May 7, 2015 - 5:20 PM

        CL is a good start. Also try your local Master Gardeners chapter for plant swaps throughout the growing season. If you have a community newspaper, there may be some plant swaps listed in there. And finally, the Chicago Botanic Garden may host some swaps too (our local Arboretum does it a couple times a year). In most cases they’re usually free to attend and swap. :)ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - May 7, 2015 - 9:51 AM

    Ah, gardening. The one part of owning a home I’d gladly pass off to someone. I love the planting phase. I hate the weeding phase.

    The first year I moved into my home, the front flowerbeds only had really bad, twiggy rosebushes. I dug them all up (my neighbor freaked) and gave them away. It’s taken me a good long while to get those beds to where I’m halfway pleased, but I do feel more confident making choices now.

    Your yard is so clean! I’m jealous. The beds look great.ReplyCancel

  • Sage @ Plaster&Disaster - May 7, 2015 - 9:58 AM

    Looks fantastic! We are similarly taking on our yard after what we think was the worst winter of all time (we live in Boston…I swear it really was the worst), and there’s a long to-do list! It’s our first spring in our new house, too. But your progress gives me hope for how things may look for us next year!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - May 7, 2015 - 10:03 AM

    Looks like a great start! We had some landscaping done last year and my husband and I have been surprised/excited about how much fuller the plants are this year. Everything is blooming at least twice as much as last year. I never thought I’d get this excited about flowers (ha), but it’s fun to see our flower beds come to life in the spring. Enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - May 7, 2015 - 11:16 AM

    Garden therapy is great, seriously. I used to hate it as a kid (mostly because my parents would force me to do it ), but now that I’m older it’s definitely something I enjoy doing. While it’s never easy to wait for it to take root, it’s well worth the wait!

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  • Crystal - May 7, 2015 - 1:09 PM

    I don’t know about your area really, but here, Vinca is a wonderful flower to add to open spaces you want to fill with green and color.ReplyCancel

  • KathleenC - May 7, 2015 - 6:17 PM

    The gardening is one of my favorite things about owning our house… we’ve been adding small trees and shrubs, and we’re doing a veggie garden this summer… I can’t wait!
    The phrase as I learned it is “First year sleep, Second year creep, third year leap”. Perennials spend a lot of their energy setting out root systems and developing that first year and some of the second years, then they go go go! If the open spaces bother you then that’s why lots of folk buy annuals. Fill it up until the perennials come into their own!ReplyCancel



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:

workshop-21 workshop-22

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!

workshop-23 workshop-25 workshop-27

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!

workshop-29 workshop-30

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.

  • Mrs Limestone - May 5, 2015 - 7:58 AM

    What an absolutely perfect space. I love everything about it. Well done.ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - May 5, 2015 - 7:58 AM


  • Rachel - May 5, 2015 - 8:01 AM

    It looks AWESOME! I am itching to do a project just looking at that space!!

    Also, we got Vittles Vaults like 6 months ago and they are AWESOME. Our two dogs eat different food so having those two big unsealed bags around was such a pain in the butt, and now the Vittles Vaults just stack in our kitchen and they are so convenient and awesome! Next step… super organized and fabulous workshop space! (haha, just kidding, I wish!)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 9:54 AM

      Isn’t it the best? I didn’t think we’d be so excited about dog storage, but it’s better than bags and much better than the large tupperware we were constantly having to refill! Worth the money, for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Cait - May 5, 2015 - 8:15 AM

    What a great space! Everything came together so well!

    And fingers crossed your kitchen door arrives soon!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ - May 5, 2015 - 8:54 AM

    Cute and efficient use of space! Love the nail art. Am I correct that you don’t have a basement to store workshop things? If so, this is a great solution!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 9:50 AM

      That’s right – our basement is actually our garden rental unit. This is the only space we have for indoor garage-type storage stuff!ReplyCancel

  • KathleenC - May 5, 2015 - 9:42 AM

    Your workspace is awesome! I love all the various organizational ideas, the ease of access, and the color… but what put it over the top for me was the framed nails.A great nod to both the bones of the original house and the today purpose of the space itself. LOVE IT!ReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - May 5, 2015 - 10:34 AM

    The workshop turned out great! And the shelves look even better filled to the brim like they are than they did empty. Also, kudos for the creative storing options for the ladder + shop vac.

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  • Jaime - May 5, 2015 - 11:23 AM

    Beautiful space!!
    I am so glad you mentioned the dog food storage bins…I looked into it and have a feeling those are going to change my life. haha!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 11:49 AM

      They really are life changing. You won’t regret it!ReplyCancel

  • Julie R. - May 5, 2015 - 11:42 AM

    I love your storage space! On the third shelf from the top, all the way to the right you have 6 stackable open storage containers. What brand are they? They look to be the perfect size to store all the extra odds and ends in a workshop. Can we have a close up of that?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 11:49 AM

      They’re stackable plastic bins from Uline!

      They come in SO many sizes though:

      You can find similar products at Container Store, and I think you can find them online in limited sizes from Home Depot.ReplyCancel

      • Cait - May 5, 2015 - 12:10 PM

        High five for Uline bins! I asked R to bring one of their catalogs home from work, and I have several pages dogeared for our shed and art room organization.

        I think a few sizes of Uline bins are also available on Amazon. Not sure whether pricing is better there or at HD, though.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 12:14 PM

          There’s a bit of a give and take with Uline. We love them, as I use them for all of my shipping supplies with the Pet/Print Shops. However, their shipping is pretty expensive, because the only option is pretty much 1 day UPS! You get everything SO fast, but you pay for it.

          That said, I usually place a large order all at once. If you do a little comparison shopping, you may find them slightly cheaper elsewhere, but the size and color options are very limited. Uline has it all – it’s a one stop shop, and the time you save with finding it all in one place is worth the shipping, I feel!ReplyCancel

          • Cait - May 5, 2015 - 12:51 PM

            I feel the same way! Sometimes you just have to pay for the convenience of getting everything in one place. I’ve got a mental tally going for the art room/shed so that we can place a large order soon.ReplyCancel

  • The space looks so awesome and so functional! I can definitely see your vision and can’t wait to see what projects you tackle now that you have a dedicated space :) As expected, I’m definitely jealous of your organized space. Our workshop is FINALLY next on the list and I can’t wait!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - May 5, 2015 - 1:04 PM

    I’m loving those shelves – where did you get them? They look like they can handle a bunch of heavy duty stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Lucy - May 5, 2015 - 1:09 PM

    I love this space and all your projects. Wish I was handy enough to transform my house. Thanks for the inspirations. I love your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Daniel @ Manhattan Nest - May 5, 2015 - 1:18 PM

    You guyzzzz, you’re killing me! I could weep with jealousy…I did a major organization party in my basement with a bunch of shelving and bins and crap and was feeling all good but it ain’t cute at all, and here you went and made it all pretty and stuff. Show-offs!

    I have about a bazillion nails just like that at this point—the art is so cute! I have no idea what to do with all of mine…I just hoard them. Maybe I’ll rip off yours but MASSIVE. Only a little kidding. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 8:36 PM

      Yes, do it! I wish we had more to make the art HUGE, so you’ll have to take care of that for your home, please.ReplyCancel

  • Tina Slocum - May 5, 2015 - 5:03 PM

    I would never leave this room! Love every single thing. BTW I love CC’s expression in the “before” photo like she’s saying “seriously?”. She has the best expressions.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - May 5, 2015 - 7:29 PM

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been feeling down about the state of our office since we moved in a month ago. I never had one before so it’s taking a while to come together! Thank you for reminding me that that’s ok, and we’ll get there in time. Looks awesome!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2015 - 8:35 PM

      If you really need to feel better, you should see our bedroom! It’s nothing more than a bed floating in the middle of what used to be a kitchen…ReplyCancel

  • Maureen R. Goldman (@SheisMoments) - May 6, 2015 - 10:59 AM

    I love the print of the tools you made. After you took the picture, where did you get it printed in that size?ReplyCancel

  • Shay - May 7, 2015 - 1:17 AM

    I love the single bent nail in your art- great piece. The whole room looks so amazing. Not being able to find the sandpaper/ needle/ glue has definitely grounded projects for me as well. Working on that dream of everything in it’s place for myself!

    But the big question, is Jack ok?? I noticed the shaved tummy.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 9:07 AM

      Hi Shay, you’re so sweet for asking. Jack is doing okay… he had a pretty big health scare for the last several months, and he had to undergo a lot of testing and prodding in his poor puppy body. The GREAT news is that just last week, we were given the green light that he’s on the up and up! He’s one tough cookie. No more bi-monthly visits to the specialists! I’ll drink to that. (And we did, ha!)ReplyCancel

      • Shay - May 7, 2015 - 5:23 PM

        That’s good to hear! Why are our pups so good at hiding what is wrong with them?

        We’re in a similar, but less severe boat with our sweet pibble boy. He has allergies which have been worse than before so he’s covered in hives, he got a skin infection a bit ago, and a recurring ear infection. He’s such a sad mess of a cuddle monster.

        This whole episode does nothing to help convince my husband that we need to adopt our boy a friend. I will keep using your pictures of Jack and CC to make my case though.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 7, 2015 - 5:33 PM

          Aw, I’m so sorry to hear! Poor noodle.

          I will say that I can’t imagine Jack not having a C-ster in his life! It’s changed everything. These two were meant for each other. :)ReplyCancel

  • Marita - May 12, 2015 - 7:24 AM

    The room looks fantastic! And that nail art is brilliant. Well done. So many clever decisions (ie your ladder placement). Your wall-mounted lamp has me thinking about whether this might be a better choice for our desk space. I love table lamps, but sometimes they take up precious surface area.ReplyCancel