Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nikki's Front Porch Re-Design, Chapter 1: Blogmailed. (And a backstory)

Thought I wouldn't be back, didn't you? Thought I'd leave you shivering with antici...[SAY IT!]...PATION! Right?

Yah, me too.

My good friend, Nikki May, shy, retiring gal that she is, has decided that I, as the Official Paducah Designer to the (wanna-be) Paducah Stars [tm], should not only head up and assist in the effort to re-design her front porch (pictured above) from drab to fab, but that I MUST ALSO fervently blog this event in the hope that the act of doing so will blast through the thick brick wall of writer's block that encapsulates me. To this end, she's employed various strategies such as assigning me writing and list making tasks, brainstormed some quite good potential commercial writing assignments (thus far to no avail) as well as taken to regularly exacting promises of blog posting from me, especially relating to her front porch re-do. Nikki's knowledge that indoor/outdoor spaces is a particular passion of mine (as well as one that we share) has proven to be my Achilles heel.

In short, it is Blogmail. (Like if blackmail had a dust covered blog.)

Yes, I must blog this. (Repeat.)

My lack of enthusiasm for producing literary prose on the subject should NOT be mistaken for a lack of enthusiasm about the project in general, however. For my enthusiasm for porchy, decky patio-ish outdoorish spaces simply knows no bounds. Since a spring storm deposited my original deck tent on my roof, I have spent the majority of this summer's warmer weather setting up my NEW deck tent (now known as ze casbah) and stuffing it with plants, furniture, pillows, throws, rugs, candle holders of my own design (unifying theme: gravel--I love gravel), and anything else that strikes my fancy.

A further personal challenge is to do this sort of thing on a budget, and I rarely if ever buy anything for ze casbah that isn't on sale, specifically, this means I'm not really happy if a purchase doesn't clock in AT LEAST at 50% off retail. I'll settle for 40% if I REALLY like it but, frankly, that pisses me off. I hunt the garden department clearance racks at Lowes for half-price plants (and you should have seen me at the half off half off sale)--and this doesn't mean I get crappy plants, it means that I buy plants that aren't in bloom THIS SECOND but that will perform quite well given food, water, and proper re potting. I search places like Big Lots and flea markets, I scour the Internet for ideas.

Ze Casbah:

In short, it is an obsession. And one that pays off nicely in a comfortable indoor/outdoor space in which to entertain as well the place in which I've whiled away the majority of my summer evenings this year. At this point, ze casbah gets way more play than my actual indoor living room. It is the first place I go in the morning and the last place I sit at night. Because, honestly, there is just something about that enclosed/not enclosed indoor-outdoor space. There is something magical that happens on a porch or a covered outdoor space or a balcony when you're surrounded by blooming plants and perched on comfy furniture and sipping a cool drink and I think it's this: That place is just for being there and enjoying this day, this very minute. It's neither inside (where things need doing) or outside (where the rest of the world is happening). It's just right here, right now. The place where you whisper a secret or enjoy the rain or curl up with a book. Or watch the rest of the world pass by. Your safe little place. A place that is very intentionally not one thing or the other.

And all that is to say this: for indoor/outdoor space, it's hard to beat the classic southern porch. Like, oh, I don't know, one that you might find on, say...a bungalow? And, seriously, how much fun does living in a bungalow sound like? Say it with me,

"I live in a bungalow!" (Try not to smile.)

Is it just me or does the word "bungalow" immediately conjure up images of a Holly Golightly conga-line? Who gets depressed in a bungalow? Nobody, that's who. Who wants to go to a party in a bungalow? Everybody, that's who. Who wants to re-do the front porch of a bungalow?

HEY! That's ME!
(to be read in the SNL "clucky chicken" voice.)
And, now, finally....

In general, Nikki and I agree that the porch will be divided into two sections: one side for a dining/drank sippin' area and the other side for a lounging/living area. We'd like to incorporate the following concepts/ideas/elements (in no particular order):

  1. The overall theme is sort of a romantic one, though we are vigilantly opposed to things that read too "sweet" or "twee". This means we have conversations in which we debate the merits of a particular fabric: does it look like grandma's bloomers (bad) or is it romantic? (good). Does it look like the drapes from "My Old Kentucky Home"? (bad) or is it romantic? (good).

  2. For the most part, Nikki's existing (rather large, actually) assortment of outdoorish furniture will be used. Some will be repainted, some left authentically weathered. Because we like weathered.

  3. Outdoor ceiling fans will be installed in the center of each end of the porch. A bit of an extravagance, but holy shit, ever been to Kentucky in July? The installation of fans will extend the life and use of the porch substantially. Said fans will not include light kits. Because ceiling fan light kits are generally heinous. Said fans may or may not include a rusty finish or distressed paint treatment. We would like them to look original or at least not shiny and new. More on that later.

  4. The porch floor will be primed and painted in two neutral (but light) shades.

  5. Sheer, diaphanous, romantic-ish curtains will be installed in some form or fashion, with the exact configuration/hanging method still TBD.

  6. Fabric will be procured and used to make seating cushions for all furniture/chairs and a lounging couch (My new term ="lounging couch". More on that later). This will serve to visually unify the space. A recent field trip to Hancock Fabrics turned out to be rather more fruitful for ideas in this regard than we would have imagined. Though some in the search party were traumatized by various quilt fabric situations. In addition, vintage linens will be involved. And, yes, fabric=sewing, but not by me. We know people. Behold the cushion fabric:

  7. Vintage linens:

  8. Vintage windows will likely be an element. Likely hung. Exactly how TBD.

  9. Porch rails will be added. Whether they will be added in this phase of the redesign (or later) is TBD.

  10. Lighting: we favor twinkly. This will be accomplished at least in part with tiny (tiny!) mason jars and in other ways still TBD. This may involve wire and tree branches. Again, more on this later.

  11. Organic material: Plants, of course. I favor a unified theme of galvanized bucket containers. I love me a galvanized bucket. Plus they come in various sizes and shapes and are fairly affordable as compared to ceramic (which is often too shiny for my taste) and terra cotta (which is a little snorifying). Already purchased: a twin set of...FIGS! (With figs on them.). Behold:

  12. Outdoor rugs at each end is part of the plan. The hunt is on for these.

  13. Everything is subject to change and mostly all the time. Though I do think at least half of these elements are going to gel.

More later...I SWEAR TO GOD!


Nikki D. May said...

It is SO on!

Brenda said...

Great ideas...I'm VERY impressed!

Aynex Mercado said...

Yeah that Nikki can be pretty persuasive.