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When Scott and I closed on our condo waaay back in 2007, we were given a teeny, tiny credit to purchase lighting for the home. It had been recently rehabbed, and as the owner’s first occupants, they threw us a bone, so to speak, by allowing us to pick out our very own lighting with a very small budget. At the time, we picked out a few Ikea fixtures here, a flush mount there, and in the living room? A ceiling fan.

Looking back, we wouldn’t purchase many (if any?) of the fixtures we chose 7 years ago, and while we loved what our ceiling fan provided us – cool air! movement! – it wasn’t the most attractive; what ceiling fans are?

And now, here we are again, needing a ceiling fan for this living room. We don’t currently have air conditioning, and we were planning on sticking it out for a summer to see how hot it gets, and so far, we’ve been alright! It’s been a cooler summer than usual, we’ve got a killer cross breeze when we open the front and back windows, but we’ll see. In any case, we still wanted two ceiling fans for now, the other being in the studio.

The problem? Oh, there are many! Here was our wish list for both rooms:

A white finish with clean lines
At least 3 fan speeds, with a winter/summer switch
52″ wide
A dimmable light
A wall switch or remote (no hanging chains!)
Within reason, price-wise

It didn’t seem that our demands were that nutty, but we quickly realized while searching online stores, Pinterest, and in-person that it was really hard to have it all. If it had a dimmable light and 3 fan speeds, it didn’t come in white. If it covered the first five bases, the price tag was out of reach. If it was white, had 3 fan speeds and was 52″, it didn’t have the option to add a light! Of course aesthetics played a large role, and it turns out there were other checklist items we were mentally adding to the list – a slim down rod, a maximum of 4 blades, sleek, but not too industrial. You know.

Scott, the smarty that he is, suggested we back away from the computer and turn to you, so we asked, where can we find a not-ugly ceiling fan?! You guys had a lot to say! (Thank you!) We hunkered down over your responses, scoured the web a bit more and wound up finding some finalists, some of which had us questioning all of our must-haves all over again (and we found ourselves running in circles more than once [punny!]):


  1. Casa Vieja Courier // 52″ // $250: First, it doesn’t come in white. I know, then what’s the point? The shape and style had our hearts, and we seriously considered the brushed nickel finish. Even though we’re not a brushed nickel family. But look at those lines!
  2. Casa Vieja Exclaim // 52″ // $250: Again, no white! Why? The schoolhouse-esque shade is too cute. The cutest, we think.
  3. Restoration Hardware Riverside Hills // 56″ // $319: It’s slightly larger than our ideal size, but it is quite beautiful! When we first saw it, we felt that it looked right for this style and period of home, but we weren’t ready to give up on the search for white – not just yet.
  4. Casa Vieja Turbina // 60″ // $260: We loved this one! Yes, it was large, but could we make it work? We were thrilled to see it in a white finish, but! The white finish was the only finish that didn’t have a light kit included! We had the option to add a light kit, however, (and for whatever reason!) that frosted shade and style was not available for white.
  5. Minka Aire Aluma // 52″ // $280: We really, really liked this one. We think. Do the screw holes look too visible?, we asked. But it fits the bill in every other way!, we said.

In the end? We went with #5, the Aluma! Two of them! It hit all the nails on the head – every. Single. One. (And quite honestly, it was the only one that really fulfilled all of our requirements while, most importantly, not having an enormous price tag. It’s just a ceiling fan, after all!) Our entire goal was to have a fan that blended in with the ceiling and didn’t compete with anything we decide to do with the room. It’s not meant to be a statement piece, but we certainly didn’t want an eyesore.

Of course there was some slight drama (who, us?) during installation, as this one had a wall switch to control both the light and fan independently of each other. We ended up having to run an extra electrical wire through the ceiling to be able to use it properly, for which we hired Harry again (love that guy).


The Aluma is so quiet. So cooling! So invisible! It has a flat white finish that really allows it to blend right into the ceiling, which is very, very nice. We truly love it, and while I wish this was the end of our story, sadly, there’s more to tell.


When it came time to run the necessary electrical for the studio, Harry found armored cable in our ceiling, making it not possible to do so quickly and efficiently. (Downstairs was a different story, as that was all brand new, not armored, and super fast to install!) He recommended that we find a different fan that has a remote, which will allow us to keep all the cabling as-is, and it will be easy enough for us to install the light ourselves (which was our original intent anyway!).

Back to the drawing board.

I did learn something that day, never having through twice about a wall switch vs. a wall remote. When in doubt (and especially with old cabling!), a wall remote is the safer choice, as there’s no hard wiring at the switch plate involved. However, I refused to let this turn into The Great White Fan Search v. 2, so I quickly jumped online and found one that had a remote and hit, again, all the nails on the head: the Minka Aire Concept I. I purchased it before I could think twice, called in the Aluma for a return, and dropped it off at FedEx so I couldn’t change my mind.


If I’m being completely honest, upon purchasing, I do remember thinking, well, I wish the blades weren’t slightly curved. And I wish there were 4 of them. And I wish it wasn’t so glossy. But then I got over it. (Note to self: Just get over it, Kim!) Not to mention, it can get downright chilly in here with this fan on! It’s a great fan! And it only took me 5 minutes to find it! (I suppose the hours of research for the Aluma didn’t hurt, right?)


We don’t want to think about fans again for a long, long time… or at least until we get to the bedroom. We love a ceiling fan in the bedroom, but perhaps that should call for something with more spunk. The opposite of invisible. A little bit of a show-stopper. Ha, that should be another interesting search! (We will see, we will see.)

Lastly, we can’t end this post without thanking you for all of your input. Really, you guys were amazingly helpful! And for those of you that mentioned in the thread that you were on a similar hunt, we hope this helped – even the teeniest, tiniest bit. Man, we feel you.

  • Kerri - July 17, 2014 - 7:03 AM

    Loving the white. Definitely an upgrade from the standard white fans that most local stores carry.

    PS – you are my hero for getting through the summer with no AC! ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:27 AM

      Ha, I say this now, but our summer has been really mild so far… but the fans are a huge help! We do plan on adding AC down the road!ReplyCancel

  • bella - July 17, 2014 - 8:43 AM

    Great job. I like both fans. I don’t know if you are a fan (pun!) of fans in the bedroom, but my husband and I are not. We prefer a table top fan in the bedroom, as a ceiling fan feels like too much wind to us, even on low. It also dries out our sinuses. ha.

    I have a really cute retro fan on the dresser, but alas, the motor gave out (We keep it on 24/7 for air circulation) and have a more utilitarian (read: ugly) fan sitting on the floor, pointing upward.

    My ultimate plan is for a nice chandelier in the bedroom…someday. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:28 AM

      We LOVE the idea of a chandelier in the bedroom, but we had a fan in our condo bedroom and loved it so much. Right now, we actually have a big ugly box fan pointed right at our bed since we love the breeze (and sound) it creates.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - July 17, 2014 - 8:47 AM

    I love the fans! Have you guys ever thought about a whole house fan? My parents have one in their house in Pittsburgh, and it’s perfect for cooling off the house at night after the sun’s gone down. They just drop the curtains during the day to help reduce the amount of sun inside. There is an AC system for when it get’s really hot, but most days, it’s not touched.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 9:30 AM

      I’ve never heard of a whole house fan! Our honeycomb blinds help to keep the cool in (and the sun out) during the day, so we also keep most of the blinds drawn when it’s really sunny.ReplyCancel

  • jaimie - July 17, 2014 - 8:51 AM

    I too know the woes of trying to find the right ceiling fan. In my case, we need 42-44″, which is already a pretty small pool to start, and also ceiling hugging. And white. There are fans that fit that criteria but man are they almost all ugly and cheap looking.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - July 17, 2014 - 9:15 AM

    We have been on a similar search to find white fans to blend in with the ceilings in our two smaller bedrooms. We finally picked a petite model with three blades that we’re actually going to install this weekend (similar to your studio fan). Hope they look as good as yours! I do agree that white ceiling fans are nice and subtle – especially in your house, when you’ve got so many more interesting features going on, you don’t want the fan to be the first thing people see. Good choice(s)!ReplyCancel

  • Joyce H. - July 17, 2014 - 10:14 AM

    Thank goodness, you guys are like the only real bloggers who use ceiling fans. I don’t understand how people live without them!

    I like both ceiling fans too, but I can see why you don’t like the gloss on the Minka. Maybe a light sanding/matte spray paint will help?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 10:29 AM

      Now there’s an idea! Or a matte finishing spray? Now that it’s up and installed, the gloss doesn’t bother me as much (although we much prefer the finish of the Aluma), but we’ll live with it and see if it’s worth fussing with. It’s already a MAJOR improvement over the “boob light” we’ve had for months!ReplyCancel

    • Erin Haslag - July 22, 2014 - 10:59 AM

      @ Joyce – I loved this comment! Seriously – I often wonder things like “do they have a TV? do they have fans? do they have wires for their electronics??”. I love that Kim & Scott are real about everything when it comes to their home and the final products.

      @ Kim – I am still so in love with that couch and color. Every picture I get a little green with envy! Looks so so good!ReplyCancel

      • Kim - July 22, 2014 - 11:29 AM

        Thanks, Erin! Haha, we have ALL of those things, and battle with them just like everyone else ;)ReplyCancel

  • Heather - July 17, 2014 - 10:43 AM

    I am totally with you that hunting for ceiling fans can be totally challenging. Here in New Orleans, ceiling fans are a must. They need to be on 24 hours a days/365 days, especially with our 12 ft. ceilings. In the summer it’s for the cool breeze and in the winter it’s to pull down all that expensive hot air that’s hanging out way above us. :) I really like an all white fan too, and purchases a gorgeous Hunter fan a few years ago for the kitchen. My current annoyance is that I have been scouring the web for one more and come to find out Hunter decided to discontinue it. AARRGGHH.
    I shouldn’t even mention this, but we ended up tweaking our bedroom fan by changing out the fan blades. :) Just saying….in case you never get over the curved blade. I am smitten with how the living room is coming together.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 10:48 AM

      Isn’t that the worst when something you love is discontinued?! Where did you purchase the fan blades that you liked? And did you find it difficult to get blades that fit the fixture properly? Not sure if fan blades are a standard (I’m guessing not)…ReplyCancel

      • Heather - July 17, 2014 - 2:24 PM

        I purchased the replacement Hunter blades at Home Depot, but it looks like Minka fans are not as easy to tweak. I just got done chatting with Lumens, asking if they had replacement blades for the Concept 1 and they do, but they are all curved like the current blade. Then I asked since the fan itself looks quite similar and the blade size is the same, could you use the Aluma blade with a Concept 1 fan? She checked into it and even contacted the manufacturer, and she said no. Boo.
        From the online manual, the blades look fairly easy to add and remove, so if you got a really wild hair, you could take one off the Aluma in the living room and see if it snaps into the Concept 1. That is probably way more information/advice that you need or want!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Cara@theprojectaddict - July 17, 2014 - 11:48 AM

    Mandi at vintage revivals just got the most amazing fan that I really want. I just can’t bring myself to spend $400 on one….. Yet. I really want to change out our super generic fans. We use them all the time so can’t switch for light. Yours looks nice.ReplyCancel

  • Graylin - July 17, 2014 - 3:36 PM

    This is actually the post I needed! We just bought a house and the fans leave little to be desired…I’ve been looking for some alternatives.


    Love your blog,



    • Jen - July 17, 2014 - 11:48 PM

      My job title is Lighting Professional, and I missed the post where you were asking for thoughts on Fans. LOL Minka Aire is an amazing line. I like a lot of their fans.

      When you described your requirements, the Concept 1 popped right into my head, because I spend a lot of time selling them. Honestly, one of the best fans around because it has the light kit, the remote, and such included included. (Although, building a fan with a client can be fun as well, the price point increases greatly!)

      I am personally thinking about a concept 2 traditional for our house, so I need to see if that can be done with a two-wire vs. three-wire install since we don’t have a a fan currently. I like the little indent in that to give it a transitional feel. The Aluma is new to my showroom, so I will have to keep it in mind.

      Anyway, enjoy the fans.
      ~ JenReplyCancel

      • Kim - July 18, 2014 - 8:52 AM

        Thanks, Jen! I wish we had known about you before the whole debate, ha. We love, love, love the Aluma and while we love the Concept I, we just wish it wasn’t so glossy… just personal preference. The Minka Aire brand has our heart though! They’re such great quality.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 18, 2014 - 8:52 AM

      Glad we could help!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - July 18, 2014 - 3:17 PM

    Looks great! Who knew it would be such a challenge to find something so simple? Maybe it will bring attention to manufacturers that we want the fan, but we don’t want to see the fan. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kara - July 23, 2014 - 11:59 PM

    You guys crack me up… because I fear you suffer from the same ill fate as I have – the need to carefully consider all options before making a decision! Thank goodness at the end of that often tiring process we normally love what we chose, right? Also, I’m thrilled to see a home design blog installing ceiling fans rather than taking them out. Yea for real life and personal comfort occasionally winning out of the latest trends! : )ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 24, 2014 - 9:28 AM

      Yup, it can totally be considered a sickness. Weighing ALL the options until you’ve fallen so far down the rabbit hole that you’re running in circles. We feel you!ReplyCancel



After tackling the more tedious tasks of painting the front porch railings and staining the floor, planting our garden and wishing our grass to grow (it’s starting to look so good!), we were finally to the point of pulling everything together. With new lights installed and an over-sized swing to swing in (with only minor heartache along the way), our front porch is – for the most part – complete!

For the last couple of months, we’ve been pulling the trigger on some of the larger purchases – the coffee table, an outdoor rug and our flea market chairs – and over the weekend, we pulled everything out of hiding. We fussed with placement, we bent out the rug kinks and we toasted many, many beverages in our outdoor living room:


We picked up a handful of succulents from a local nursery, Adams & Son Gardens, and I potted a small terrarium (fully equipped with our favorite – dinosaurs!) for the table. By the front door, we picked up a large planter from Ikea and filled it with colorful purple Coleus, Setcreasea (aka Wandering Jew) and asparagus plants from Sprout. Last year we missed out on adding plant life to our outdoors (I suppose we were a bit busy tearing down ceilings, you know), and man, have we missed it! All furniture aside, plants make the whole porch feel a thousand times more beautiful, more welcoming.


I picked up this rug during Lulu & Georgia’s Memorial Day sale, and the black Greek key pattern snowballed the rest of the furniture decisions – a black aluminum coffee table (it’s so light! And durable!), our black painted swing, and now that we’re seeing the space as a whole, we are definitely keeping those Elkhorn chair in their original wrought iron state. With our lightly stained porch floor and white railings, the black accents lend a feel of subtle sophistication.


I think we’re still on the hunt for an extra deep swing cushion, but the non-standard size (2′d x 5′w) isn’t easy to find in stores or online, and a handful of emails to various Etsy sellers have left us empty handed – either they’re simply not responding or they’re not taking on custom orders. In the meantime, we’ve stuffed it full with outdoor pillows, giving the low back some oomph! (Are any of you sewing enthusiasts accepting cushion orders? We’d love to work with you!)


We are so, so in love with our front porch, and I guarantee that if you’re ever looking for us, there we’ll be. Every meal has since been consumed al fresco, we’ve been indulging in naps on the swing, and we’ve turned into those people that constantly water our grass and comment on the growth – like, in our actual dinnertime conversations. (What?!)

And as for what’s left?

Paint/Stain the porch floor
Finish the staircase hand rail
Top the downstairs cinder blocks with caps
Install a path from the pavement to the side of our home, alongside the garden (NOPE)
Porch swing!
Paint the front door
Paint the staircase – that is, once the pressure treated wood has dried (boo)

I actually had high hopes to paint the front door this past weekend, but the morning of, we got sidetracked by a trip to the far away Chicago ‘burbs for a new studio desk (which I love, but it needs work). And since painting our porch stairs can’t likely happen this season, it seems that the front door is the only thing left! (Yeah!)

In other news, a new fence was also installed (and I’m going to grab photos later this week or early next), which – while not directly related to front-porch-fixins – technically leads us to one more to-do (this year anyway) for the home’s exterior:

Make a “pee pit” for Jack + CC

We are weirdly excited about that one.

Source round-up: Lulu & Georgia Hanolo rug, flea market chairs, Strathwood Rhodes coffee table (bought from Amazon), DIY porch swing, pink + orange pillows from Little House Pillow Co., black + white polka dot pillows from Society6, striped pillow was self-made, TROSSÖ Ikea planter, Home Depot watering can, flea market lantern, thrifted terrarium dish.

  • Hannah - July 15, 2014 - 7:19 AM

    Looks fantastic! I’m jealous of your “al fresco” option. When I had an awkward-sized bench in the past, I made a cushion for it after visiting a local foam store to get high-density foam cut down to size. Then I made a simple cover, which since it was for a trapezoidal cushion, definitely caused some tears in my non-sewing-expert life. But it did only take an afternoon, and transformed our bench into a viable snooze/read/hang spot! (see this bench here:

    I’m sure someone who is actually competent will get back to you with a cushion offer — or try it yourselves! Sewing a cushion cover is not so bad, and if you find a helpful foam guy, he’ll cut it perfectly for you. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 9:03 AM

      Thanks for the link, Hannah! I can sew… but not well. I took a class and was all for it, then my machine broke and I’ve yet to take it in for repair. UGH. This is one of those things that I’d love to have made by someone who knows what they’re doing!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - July 15, 2014 - 7:20 AM

    it looks fantastic!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - July 15, 2014 - 8:11 AM

    Ob. Sessed. You guys hit it out of the park! And, is it weird that I am excited about this pee pit too? Teach me!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 9:03 AM

      We think it will be pretty easy! (Famous last words?) We hope to get it done sooner than later!ReplyCancel

    • Hannah@Eriesistibull - July 15, 2014 - 9:15 AM

      So are we! Can’t wait for details!ReplyCancel

  • Marie - July 15, 2014 - 8:39 AM

    I love how it turned out, you guys are really talented to mix things up. Where is the rug from ? Did you mix various plants in that big white gorgeous pot ? As for the cushion, didn’t you learn how to sew one ? I bet this is a new challenge you are ready to accept, aren’t you ? ;-) Enough questions for today.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 9:04 AM

      Hey Marie! Check out the source links at the bottom of the post, and it’ll take you right to where we purchased everything. As much as I love a challenge, I think we’ll leave the cushion to someone with much higher sewing skills than I have…ReplyCancel

      • Marie - July 15, 2014 - 12:35 PM

        Sorry for asking what was written at the bottom, and sorry I can’t sew. Btw, I’m all into choosing a rug pad by now, if you or any reader has any tips or advice, that would be really nice. My new flat made of wool Alvine Ruta from Ikea is slipping on my tiles all the time, should I buy the Stopp Filt from Ikea or anything of a superior quality ? Never used a rug pad before.ReplyCancel

  • alexk - July 15, 2014 - 8:40 AM

    …but what is a pee pit?

    Love watching you guys build your home here. We are in a condo in Uptown that we purchased a few months ago, and we are going through a lot of these same projects. So fun to see what you guys have come up with!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 9:05 AM

      Thanks, Alexk! We’ll share the run down on the pee pit soon!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - July 15, 2014 - 8:40 AM

    hey Kim, send me an e-mail about dimensions and I can help you out with the pillow cushion if you’d like. The down side is i’m in Richmond, VA, but I’ve got a few ideas if you’d like to listen.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - July 15, 2014 - 9:18 AM

    I love it, Kim!! It is such a cheerful spot…a great spot to watch the world go by.ReplyCancel

  • ann - July 15, 2014 - 9:26 AM

    Your lucky neighbors have such a nice view now. I can’t wait to see how the fence turned out.ReplyCancel

  • I’m getting in my car right now and driving to Chi-town just so I can take a nap on that swing! The whole space looks amazing. I love the addition of the plants. They really do make the space feel alive. Great job, guys!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - July 15, 2014 - 9:38 AM

    The porch looks so great. We have a patio space with much potential (could be a pergola in our future) but the porch swing you have is so sweet and makes me think of lazy summer days with a book and glass of lemonade at my parents’ house. I’m totally intrigued by the pee pit–details please! (That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 11:27 AM

      Hahaha, we’ll absolutely share it!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - July 15, 2014 - 9:53 AM

    This looks awesome! Love it! But oh my gosh, those chairs. They are an unbelievable find! That’s one thing I really miss in my podunk town – the availability of such cool finds. Chicago and LA seem to be where it’s at for MCM furniture of any sort. You can find some cool pieces here (after lots and LOTS of digging), but they usually aren’t in good shape.ReplyCancel

  • Kiira - July 15, 2014 - 10:13 AM

    looks so clean and crisp. I love the porch space! As for the pee pit– a total necessity. I learrned that the hard way. Nothing kills boxwood and grass faster than that first morning pee!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 11:27 AM

      Do you have one in your backyard? I don’t think I noticed it!ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - July 15, 2014 - 10:58 AM

    So fresh and cheery. Great colors!

    Have you picked a color for the front door? Looking forward to that. So amazing what a difference it makes.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 11:26 AM

      We do have a color already! Can’t wait to find a day to do it. SOON, we hope!ReplyCancel

  • Shelby - July 15, 2014 - 11:27 AM

    It’s looking SO good! Can’t wait to see the door painted as well. I’ve been trying to decide what color to paint ours. I’m thinking a navy blue.

    Also, what exactly is a “pee pit”…because I think I need to create one in my yard for my pups! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 11:30 AM

      It’s truly what it sounds like – a place to pee! For the dogs, OF COURSE.ReplyCancel

      • Shelby - July 15, 2014 - 12:17 PM

        But is it a completely blocked off part of the yard? We’ve been debating fencing in the entire yard, or only a portion that the dogs can do their business in. I think we should do the entire yard, but maybe also have a separate portion for them as well. Is that weird? :)ReplyCancel

        • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 12:27 PM

          Oh, it’s definitely not going to take over the whole yard! A very small part of it, actually. We’re thinking it will go along our new fence, which is to the left of our house. We don’t have a lot of space for it in the front, but only a small area is needed. Once we get to the backyard renovation, we’ll section off a larger pee pit – maybe equivalent to the size of 2 kiddie pools?ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - July 15, 2014 - 11:29 AM

    I’m loving this! I can’t wait to spend more time focusing on our patio and come up with a cohesive look like this.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Haslag - July 15, 2014 - 11:32 AM

    Loved watching this transformation! We’re working to screen in our porch (so we can enjoy it sans mosquitos in the evening hours) and hoping to catch a few end-of-summer sales on patio furniture. Do you have any recommendations of when to shop the end-of-season sales?

    Cheers! and enjoy the beautiful outdoor living space you’ve created!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 11:35 AM

      This is the first time we’ve been able to buy substantial furniture, so I’m not entirely sure… however! I’ve noticed that World Market is having a mega sale right now, as are a lot of the big retailers: West Elm, Home Decorators, Crate & Barrel, CB2, etc. I think this is the perfect time to hop on a sale, since most places are already thinking ahead to fall/holiday!ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - July 15, 2014 - 12:47 PM

    Hey guys! Loving your porch!
    My friend sent me a link to your post looking for a custom cushion for your swing. I’ve sewn just about everything from kids’ clothes & accessories to home decor and cushions. I’d love to hear what you have in mind – thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 3:10 PM

      Thanks, Jenna! We already got some feedback, but we’ll keep you in mind for anything else! Always good to know someone who can sew – especially for this girl.ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - July 15, 2014 - 3:04 PM

    I have some pretty great sewing skills, but being all the way out in LA its probably not worth the shipping…
    The porch looks amazing and beautiful!!!
    Do your porch lights give off enough light in the evening for the seating area? Or do you have light from the front windows too?
    PS- Where did you get that watering can???ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 15, 2014 - 3:10 PM

      Thank you! The porch lights actually give off a LOT of light – we’ll likely have to switch out the wattage to something lower. And if we have the living room lights on dim, it’s the perfect amount of light.

      The watering can is from Home Depot a few years ago!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - July 16, 2014 - 9:20 AM

    I love you kept the chairs black. Good contrast to the white porch rail! It’s really pretty!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 16, 2014 - 9:35 AM

      Now you’ve got to make it up here to see it all in person! Miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - July 16, 2014 - 1:36 PM

    Absolutely beautiful! I wanna come over. :) Porches are pretty uncommon here in SoCal except in old town areas. But this gives me load of inspiration for my patio!ReplyCancel

  • Life on Hill Street - July 16, 2014 - 3:48 PM

    Your front porch looks amazing, omg! And you got it done in time to still use it while the weather is nice, yay! We’re hoping to get started on ours soon, but the back deck took so much longer than expected…ugh. Anyway – it looks beautiful and I hope you’re loving it!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - July 17, 2014 - 9:01 AM

    I’ve been a little MIA on blog reading lately and I’m finally catching up on yours! EVERYTHING you’ve been doing to your home is absolutely amazing! I love this swing, love the fan ceilings, love love love everything. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 17, 2014 - 10:05 AM

      Amanda! Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Emma - July 18, 2014 - 6:35 AM


  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - July 20, 2014 - 7:18 AM

    Looks so so good. What a nice place to hang out.ReplyCancel

  • Monika & Sam - July 23, 2014 - 10:45 AM

    F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S job and outcome…and those chairs are killer!ReplyCancel


We’re one step closer to front porch completion (this season anyway)! Our porch is stained!


Staining our deck ended up turning into a thing, as most projects (big or small) tend to do with us. (Truly, we drive ourselves crazy sometimes.) Initially, we planned to use a product such as Behr’s Deckover or Rustoleum Restore, both of which provide a gritty non-slip texture to the porch and go on very, very thick. As we delved into that realm, a lot of negative reviews turned up pretty quickly, and even the sales associates at the various hardware stores weren’t convinced of their durability.

So back to the drawing board we went, and after sifting through way too many reviews on the merits of paint vs. stain – then ultimately turning to you for help (you guys rock) – we nixed the idea of porch paint and went with an opaque stain. The best of both worlds! Since our deck had never been stained or painted, we were lucky enough to make the ultimate decision without the burden of stripping the previous owner’s choice. After a looot of research, we landed on Deckscapes opaque exterior stain by Sherwin Williams in Gray Birch.


The biggest thing we read up on while scouring the web for this vs. that was the importance of prep work. Of course this is the case for most any DIY project (and sometimes it’s the longest part of any project!), and staining our deck was no different. Although we pressure washed it early this season, Scott picked up a jar of Deck Brite at Ace to go that extra mile. It claims to be just the thing for pre-staining your porch floors, as it will remove any mill glaze, mildew or algae that happens over time, and while our deck was pretty clean an in the first place (again, from the initial pressure washing), we were impressed with this stuff! (And nope, this isn’t product placement in any way.)

To use, we scooped a small amount in a big bucket of water, mixed for a few minutes until the blue solution turned clear, then used a pressure washer at a lower speed to rinse it off. (Bonus: We liked that it was non-toxic and super safe for our newly planted garden!) Coming in at $25, it’s a little more expensive than other deck cleaners, but it was well worth it. Not to mention, we have so much left over, so… back deck? Here’s looking at you! (One day!)


We allowed our porch to dry out overnight, and late the next day, we got to staining! I cut in around all the porch support beams and worked my way down to the aprons, and Scott took the reigns on rolling. He used  a 1/2″ nap roller for semi-rough surfaces, allowing him to get into all the nooks of our tongue and groove flooring. It went on opaque like paint, but more watery in texture – although not too watery. We didn’t notice any huge issues with drips, but we were careful as we went along.


It only took about 45 minutes to get one entire coat done, after which we toasted a beer, marveled at omg, what a difference! it made, and then we continued with a second coat. All in all, we used one and a half gallons for about 150 square feet of porch floor. Everything felt super dry the next day, but we’re waiting until this weekend to start loading things back onto the porch for the season – and we cannot wait!

Here’s where we started after our Deck Brite scrub down:


And now? Gray Birch! Stained!


While we love the color, our complaint is that we were hoping for a warmer gray, but it looks more blue than the swatch in the store and not quite as dark (so if you’re going that route, perhaps go a step darker than you think you’d like?). Regardless, we are loving the look! I even tried to scrape up a corner with my fingernail – just to see! – and there was no chipping. As for the long term durability, well, we’ll have to live another Chicago winter to know for sure!

Our front porch has come a long, long way since the start of the season – including all that grass! There are still some very small patchy areas that we’ll need to reseed to get that perfect, blanketed look, but it came up quickly and bright.


We do have some rough boards at the top of our stairs which we’ll likely need to replace – and to be honest, Scott was eager to replace them before we stained. Unfortunately, we’ve had a string of stormy weeks and we wanted to jump on the project for our first 2 sunny days in a row, leaving us little time to start pulling up boards, laying down new and then staining. No matter; just because we’ve stained now doesn’t mean we can’t go back and replace those boards when time permits! (And honestly, I may have been a smidge impatient, claiming that the heavily grooved boards didn’t bother me at all! While that’s true, we will need to replace them – someday.)


You’ll notice that we’ve yet to paint our new front stairs. I did the water test on them last week (if the water beads up, they’re not ready to be coated), and they’re still a month (or two? Or three?) out from being ready for paint and stain. Once they are, the stair treads will get the same Deckscapes stain, and the risers and railing will get the Valspar treatment.


For now, we have a few more plants we’d like to add to by the front door (if it’ll fit), an outdoor rug to lay and a cozy nook to set up. Weekend, get here!

PS… It’s the last day of our $100 Ace Gift card giveaway! Have you entered?

  • lsaspacey - July 11, 2014 - 8:36 AM

    Looking great! Love the last shot with puppy nose and puppy feet! By the way, is Jack a pit/boxer mix? He looks so much like my fav puppy Cass and I’m curious to her make-up.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 11, 2014 - 9:51 AM

      Thank you! Jack is a pit mixed with Irish Setter of all things! We found out when we did one of those doggie DNA tests (we picked it up on Amazon, and I gave it to Scott for Christmas the year we adopted our little ham).ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - July 11, 2014 - 9:18 AM

    What a cool idea for a porch – opaque stain! We have a small deck in the back of our house that is in desperate need of attention, but we’ll probably tackle it next summer. The wood planks are generally okay but haven’t been well-protected, so they need a bit of love. What condition were your wood planks in before you cleaned/stained them? Any rotting or warping?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 11, 2014 - 9:42 AM

      They were… Okay, I guess? The front patio, according to the house’s seller, is new within the last 10-15 years. They had never been treated (or in our opinion, properly cared for) in that time. So they were a little gray, worn down and had mildew spots. We cannot recommend the DeckBrite enough! When paired with the pressure washer, the difference was insane.ReplyCancel

  • Fiona - July 11, 2014 - 9:43 AM

    Looks great! Are you planning on painting the exterior of the front door? I’m curious because I’m thinking of buying the same door and want to know how it takes paint.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 11, 2014 - 9:50 AM

      If the weather holds out, we’ll be doing it this weekend! The door we bought specifically says to use an “adhesion promotor,” which we already picked up. If all goes well, we’ll have an update next week!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - July 11, 2014 - 11:16 AM

    SO GOOD!!!! It looks awesome, very crisp and fresh… and love the garden too!!ReplyCancel

  • Marie - July 11, 2014 - 11:49 AM

    Congrats on all the good outside work, the swing – and the ceiling surgery as well, and that awesome gray stain on the porch ! I love it. Have a nice week-end (without rain).ReplyCancel

  • Margarita @ West Coast Mama - July 11, 2014 - 1:56 PM

    I really like the look of the painted/stained deck. I think it makes it looks really cozy and modern.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Chilcott - July 13, 2014 - 6:24 PM

    Well done, it looks wonderful.ReplyCancel