Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I've Learned About Porches In The South!




For the last couple years, since moving into our house, I've had a number of comments and emails from readers asking me for a big reveal post on our wrap-around porches on our house.




I've actually stopped responding to this question because I know that I must get some strange looks and eye rolling when I tell people I'm having a hard time with my porches.  I give myself some eye-rolling and a stern talking to every time I complain too, believe me.




I have a love/hate relationship with my porches.  

I really, really love the view.  I love the wonderful breeze that keeps things cool and comfortable on the hilltop all summer.  I love sitting on the porch in my rocking chairs or porch swing.  I love napping on the porch bed.  I love looking up at my house from the road, way down below and seeing the wrap-around porches.  I love the beadboard ceilings on my porches.




  I dislike the spiders, bugs, and mud dobbers that love the beadboard ceilings.  I dislike the concrete floors that I can't keep clean.  I dislike the worms that love crawling up onto the concrete after a rain.  I dislike the wind in a rain storm that blows all my porch furniture and cushions down the hill.




A couple weeks ago on a beautiful sunny day I began the task of spring cleaning my porches.  I scrubbed walls, windows and floors.  I killed spiders and removed webs.  I scraped off mud dobber nests out of the corners, and worms off the concrete floors.  And it took me three days.  

We have over 900 square feet of porches and that is a lot of porches to clean, believe me.



So here is a tour of our porches, just exactly as they are with no prettying them up.  I'm going to share with you the ideas that I had for these porches when we picked our house plan... and the reality of what it really is!  Including mud boots, no landscaping, and farm messes!  It's called "life on the hilltop reality".




I'm actually kind of okay with our back porch.  We do plan to put a railing on this porch to pretty it up a little bit.  And of course we will eventually have flower beds up to the porch and a lawn.  I don't know if you can tell, but the beadboard ceiling is a very light blue (called "haint" blue here in the South) and I really love it.




The back porch is great because it is a little wider than the other porches so there is a lot of room for a large picnic table that comfortably seats about 10 people.




I also love this chippy old wash stand with my Hydrangea bushes in it.  There is just enough sun, shade and protection that these bushes love it here.




Another favorite is my old metal chair, bench and little table that I redid.  They are comfortable and just heavy enough that they don't blow off the porch in a storm!  




We also have room on the back porch for our large natural gas grill that I use just about every single day.  As well as my outdoor canning station.  So the back porch is functional, comfortable and since it is the door that we are continually using, it is a great porch for dropping our shoes as we head in the door - I guess you could call it an outdoor mud room most of the time!  The back porch faces South so it is a little warmer in the wintertime and shady and lovely in the summertime too.




Next we have the side porch off the dining room.  I had originally envisioned that I would have a picnic table here, as it is right off the dining room so is very handy to the kitchen.  BUT, the setting sun beats on this side of the house about 5:00 every evening - the time you would like to be sitting out on a picnic table!  So that idea went right out the window.  




As for now, we've hung our porch swing (which was a special gift to us when we moved in) and we love where it is.  We will keep it here.  Not sure what I will do on the rest of this side porch.  But one idea I have is a long trestle table with benches that would fit under it and scoot up to the wall.  We could use the table for breakfast because the mornings are beautiful on this side of the house!  The table would look pretty and would be heavy enough it wouldn't blow off the porch in a storm!




We love the swing, it is Eldon's banjo playing spot in the evenings!  




Moving around to the front of the porch.  This is the really long porch and it faces North.  Yes North. Now, if we hadn't been placing our house a certain way on the hilltop for the view, we would've never had this porch facing North.  But it is such a lovely view that who cares that you can't step outside the front door in the wintertime?  Smile!




I have literally done nothing beyond placing black rocking chairs and a couple junk tables that work great for setting my glass of ice tea during the day and my coffee cup at night!  I do love having the rocking chairs and eventually Eldon will build some nice tables to match the trestle table he is going to build on the dining room side!  (He doesn't know this yet!)  




This is looking down the length of porch from the other end - facing West.  And yes, that is a sunset you see in the distance.  We get some of the most amazing sunsets up here on the hilltop.  




Here's proof!




Then walking around the corner of the porch we come to the "sleep porch" on the East side of the house.




So here is the deal on my sleep porch.  I envisioned that it would be this really cozy little corner.  It is private since there are no windows on these walls.  I was going to hang outdoor curtains on the open part of the porch to close it off when we wanted - kind of  like a darling little outdoor bedroom.




I bought the bed off of Craigslist, made the pillows, repurposed an old quilt, hung the wooden flag that I made and painted, and then started looking for curtain ideas.




Then in a wind storm the wooden flag was torn off the wall, the pillows blew off the porch and if there had been curtains they would've been shredded.  




So plans for the sleep porch kind of changed!  However, that is okay because I still love it.  I've actually been known to sleep out here at night and it is lovely.  

  


And why would a person want curtains when you have a view like this?




And this is what I've learned about beautiful Southern Porches:


In real life they don't look like the ones on the cover of Southern Living magazine.

You cannot be afraid of spiders and bugs.  Seriously.

Porches on a hilltop that always have a lovely breeze in the Spring, Summer and Fall have strong winds in the Winter.  You'll be chasing furniture and cushions down the hill.  Make your furniture heavy and your pillows washable.

When you clean your porch ceilings and walls, don't use bleach in the water.  (Or wear waterproof gloves.  I learned the hard way.)

Don't have too much furniture and stuff on your porches or you'll be cleaning around them forever.

You know that song all the little girls in the world are singing - Let It Go?  Yep.  When it comes to trying to keep your porches perfect... just let it go!   And sit in your chairs, nap on the porch bed, swing in the swing... and let it go!


Thanks for coming along on the real life tour of porches on a hilltop farm!



43 comments:

  1. I adore ALL of your porches and now I really really want a sleeping porch. Really. Here in West Texas, everything would be blown to kingdom come with a foot of dirt piled on them in the spring. Once you get your breakfast table, my opinion is that they will be perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Val, yeah I'm pretty sure that everywhere in the United States gets wind at some time during the year! I thought I would escape it moving here!!! ha Ha!! BUT, instead of the spring, we get it in the winter so it is actually easier to avoid! :-)

      Delete
  2. Keeping it real Dori! I was wondering about the wind on the hilltop. But by golly, it so worth it with the spectacular views! Looking forward to the on going projects on the farm. The icing on the cake is listening to your hubby playing beautiful music on the porch. Kathleen in Az

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen, Eldon is a self-taught banjo player and is still in the early learning stages, but it is amazing how wonderful it is to listen to! Thanks for always reading and commenting!

      Delete
  3. Oh no! My husband and I are building our own house, while we live in one room in the basement. We love southern style homes, even though we live in Indiana. Guess what the name of my house blog is? The house on hilltop farm. Guess what this southern style home has. Yup. Porches!

    Cindy Bee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cindy, that's cute!!! Our farm name is actually Southern Greens Angus Farm... but everyone (including us) always refers to it as the Hilltop! But there are A LOT of Hilltop Farms around here so we couldn't really name it that! :-) Oh, and porches ARE wonderful. I hated sounding negative in my post. They are so wonderful. But there were sure a lot of realities that I wasn't aware of! You will love yours!

      Delete
  4. I think your porches are amazing.. as well as the views... Have you ever thought about screening in any part of your porch? It would help a bit with the bugs. Anyway, I love it all..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connie, thank you. They are amazing. And I do love them. 99% of the time!!! :-)

      Delete
  5. Welcome to life in the country! We, too, are surrounded by porches: one big "L" unscreened and then 1 smaller screened and 1 large timber-frame screened. I can tell you that screening them doesn't make much difference and adds way more maintenance. Don't get me wrong, I love all of them, but nope, living with them requires some work and a lot of adaptation! You've nailed it though -- enjoy the views, use 'em for what works for you and be happy with your little slice of heaven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty, isn't that the truth. Life in the country! I kept thinking our answer was to screen them and then I found out from a neighbor on the hilltop near us (who removed her screens) and a few other folks that screens actually make it worse. I love all mine too... I guess I just wasn't prepared for the work. I actually remember a lady telling me when we were building, "Oh you'll love your porches, but they are a lot of work" and can you believe what I replied? "Eldon said he would be the sweeper, so that will be a huge help". she just smiled!!! Now I'm thinking what a dummy I must've sounded like!!! :-)

      Delete
  6. What a lovely lot of porch with great views! If you paint all of your ceilings that pretty blue, you might eliminate some trouble with hornets building nests. (They don't like building nests under "open sky.") As for spiders and crawly bugs, I'd check into edible diatomaceous earth. I use it on my open deck and, believe me, I'd not be using the deck without it. Have a great spring and summer on those porches!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vee! I will check into that edible earth. Very interesting. As for the blue ceiling... I always thought is was a myth about the blue sky thing. BUT, when I was cleaning the porches it donned on me that the porch with the blue ceiling had way less bugs and spiders. I decided right then and there that at some point this summer I'm painting the other porch ceilings the same blue. I don't think it is a myth!

      Delete
  7. I have a large front porch and that gnawing love-hate relationship with it, too! I LOVE front porches and have a "want" to spiff it up and make it purty like those southern charms down south. It's a farm house. There are the constant spiders, worms, grass clippings.. kids bikes... etc.

    Yeah!! I'd have to clean it for a week to "turn it around" into something fancy. I still love sitting on my porch rockers and whiling the afternoon away with a tall glass of iced coffee or sweet tea.

    Thanks for sharing your porch insights. I LOVE the sunsets, view and the sleeping quarters there on the side. NICE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bev, Yes..... that is me. Did you see the Southern Living magazine this month with the gorgeous porch on the cover??? That could be ours I'm sure. Staged for a few hours for a photo shoot! :-) Oh, Iced coffee sounds good. Think maybe I need that right now!!!

      Delete
  8. I love all your porches! Love the gingham check picnic table cover. Love the swing. Love the black rockers. Love the metal furniture. Love the wash tub planter. Love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, thank you! :-) My favorite is the wash tubs I think!

      Delete
  9. Your porches are wonderful just as they are~~~lived on & loved! :) would love to join you in a rocking chair for a cup of coffee & a visit ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cyndie - I'd love to have you here rocking together on the porch!

      Delete
  10. "Love" your porch Dori! We have a porch too and that I also have a "love/hate" relationship with for the exact same reasons that you explained...spiders, cobwebs, dust, bug poo on our vinyl porch railing and how do those worms climb up on the porch? That has always amazed me. Then then dry up and stick like glue to our stamped concrete! Porches = a lot of cleaning but I do still "love" our porch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah, those worms are pretty incredible. Do you get them by the hundreds after a rain storm??? I mean, seriously our front porch will be covered. It is so strange. And you know the people that have beautiful rugs on their porches? I could never have that because the worms would just live under there. And yes... I love our porches too, the good and bad!

      Delete
    2. Once you have landscaped, you will be thrilled to have all those worms at work improving your beds. I have found that rinsing off our porch, patio, and deck is always more effective than sweeping. However, there is something so peaceful about the sound of a broom on a porch. Ah, the sound of bliss.

      Delete
  11. LOVE the banjo picture and that is exactly where Jim plays the banjo! And I like the realistic look at porches, blowing items and all! I want a sleeping porch! (:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellen, can you and Jim fly over for a couple days??? And bring the banjo so Eldon can get some lessons! He is teaching himself from a DVD program he bought. And it is wonderful listening to him but it sure would be fun to have Jim here!!! :-) Hugs!

      Delete
  12. Love your porches & views! I've always wanted a big house with wrap around porches. Maybe someday. Southern or not, I know I'd still have to deal with most of what you mentioned here :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Max, regardless of what the blog post said, I do love my big porches! And even with all the negatives, they are still the most awesome thing about our house on the hill!

      Delete
  13. Thanks for sharing your beautiful piece of heaven, makes my heart sing! We have a lot of porches too with great views plus all the pests and strong storm winds. That's what we had to do, 'let it go' and enjoy the greatness each one brings. In good weather we start the day having our coffee in the porch swing. We call it our sippin' & swingin' time! Blessings for a wonderful summer growing, making and selling your bouquets and enjoying all the wonderfulness of farm life! Cathy in the hills of Idaho

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cathy, sometimes it is hard for me to just sit... and sitting on the porch when there are bugs and spiders and dirt has been hard for me. Right now with them clean, I'm loving them way more than ever! So... I'm seriously working on the letting it go part so that when all the insects return, I'm okay with it! :-)

      Delete
  14. What an amazing place to be. So many things I love about your porches, I can't pick just one. Enjoy each and every bit of it. I'm hoping our next house will have lots of porches.

    I'd be honored if you shared this on The Maple Hill Hop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daisy, I'll head over and share! :-) Thanks for the invite!

      Delete
  15. I too have wrap around porches on a hill. Spring & fall we "try" to clean them...Cold pressure washer without bleach works best. Love the porch but hate the pollen, bugs & dust we get from living in the country in the south...So we sit and rock and enjoy what we can, when we can...Well worth the investment...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did power wash ours and I just felt like it hardly did anything. So I just went to the hot, soapy water (after I had bleach issues!) and it did the trick! Yes... very well worth the investment!

      Delete
  16. I love the looks, but I think they need a railing. Then they would look finished, and the rail would help keep things from flying SO far away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I agree with you Kathy. Haven't got my husband on board with that yet though. But I think railing would separate it visually from the grass, etc.. and therefore create more of a "room" look. And yes, things wouldn't make it all the way off the hilltop!!! :-)

      Delete
    2. We have talked about railings also for our porch...but I do love the open porch as well.

      Delete
  17. I have the same metal chairs. I planned to have a professional strip and paint them. Any how-to suggestions or paint recommendations? Amy in NC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry, that I don't have an answer for you, but...I have the same set(I think)...mine are not too bad, mostly surface rust on the seats...each Spring, I use car wax on mine, buffing it well. This takes that dead paint film off them, and helps them to last longer. You also don't wear the old paint after sitting in them! good luck!

      Delete
  18. Dori, your porches are beautiful. I would love to have those views, esp. with cattle grazing in the pastures as you do. Personally, I would not add railings anywhere as it would create more to clean and because I am short, I find that railings hit me right at eye line when I am sitting which blocks all the view. That sleeping porch would get lots of use for me. I love to lay on our glider on the deck and snooze!
    May God bless you and yours as you enjoy the views He provides!
    Susan

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Dori ~ I love your porches..the sleeping porch would be my husband favorite. I can relate with you of the hard winds blowing everything in the yard. We've chase pillows, rugs and even pick the rocking chairs off the ground. We even tie the swing to the post or it will be air borne. But those days are soon forgotten when all is clam and you swing or rock your cares away. Nothing says home like a front porch. Planting my seeds soon..I will let you know how they do. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I really love your totally honesty here, Dori. I have a front porch and where I live, we get lots of bugs, flies, dirt, spiders, mud, wind and dust blowing. In early spring, our porch is nice, but when the bugs start flying and the flies get thick, it's no fun. My white ceiling and posts look pretty icky by the end of summer. I try to clean it now and then for special family events which helps. I tried having hanging plants from the edge, but the wind really dried them out and/or blew them around too much, but terra cotta pots of geraniums work OK in the wind. Your porches are very pretty and practical too. I like that you have cement floors. Hose 'em down!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Dori,
    I really enjoyed your post on porches. I can enter in completely and I agree with your advise, to let it go. I had a picture perfect porch in mind when I requested a porch the went ALL the way around. Jas said that might be a bit much but I insisted. It is a bit much some days but it doesn't out weigh the good things about it. Lots of boot/shoe room, lots of sitting room, lots of flower pot room, an extra "room" to decorate. A place to watch a summer storm or a winter snow fall. My favorite thing is at first light, grab my coffee, my Bible and head for a rocker, wrap up in a quilt and watch the day come.
    It is hard to keep clean but like others, we power wash it and have also found that a gas powered leaf blower comes in handy to quickly "dust" the porch.
    Thanks for your practical look at things...helps the rest of us see that practical is in "style".
    Happy porch sitting, rocking, decorating, enjoying!!!
    Colleen

    ReplyDelete
  22. Have you ever thought of screening in any of your porches. Especially the back one where you have the picnic table. I was even thinking that if you made the sleeping porch a sun-porch with lots of windows, you could keep it clean and only open the windows for a breeze when you used it. There is nothing like a porch for sleeping:) One other tip (take these all with a grain of salt) but bungee cords come in all sizes and colors. My cushions were blowing off the porch and I found that if I put a bungee cord around the cushion hooked to the chair, it took care of my problem. Like I said a grain of salt. I think that your porches are beautiful. I make a point of cleaning my porch every Thursday or Friday in hopes that it will stay fairly clean . . . then I have to tell myself that it is an outdoor room and in the outdoors there is dust and dirt. It can't be helped. Oh, and what a million dollar view you have . . . that is heaven:)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Just read your post on porches....loved it. I live in an old farmhouse with 2 porches facing the DIRT road. I gave up a long time ago trying to keep them cleaned, they are always covered in dirt road dust, the more you sweep the more the dirt makes a pattern on the porch floor. I also put very little on them, a couple flower pots along with a swing we never use because covered in dust. They look nice when not up close, oh well, life living in the country on a dirt road. Thanks for the post it made my day!!! In the winter you can't get to them because of the feet of snow, I live in the snow belt off Lake Erie!! Have a great week! Mickey

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dori...Simply amazing ..You inspire me so much. Bring me joy and I learn so much from everything you share. The pics are amazing! Love the flower idea....everything. Love you and thank you so much. Lisa

    ReplyDelete