April 5, 2010

Makeover: Cramped Porch to Welcoming Wide Steps



We are about 90% finished with the renovations to the front of our home and landscape, so I'm going ahead and posting some photos. The problem is, the 'before' photo (above) was taken when the plants were pretty and green, while the 'after' photos (below) still show winter landscape. I think you're supposed to do it the other way around, to emphasize how much better the changes look. But I tried to even things out by applying some photoshop trickery to make the 'after' photos look vintage and glowing . . . what do you think?



Here are the steps that Susan Morrison, the landscape designer behind Blue Planet Gardening, kindly suggested for our porch. You can see from the top picture that our small porch used to feel very cramped and dark, but the steps and stone column open it up and better balance the Giant Garage on the other side of our house. You might notice that the pink dogwood tree is no longer on the southwest corner of the porch - after watching it fry for 3 summers, hubby moved it to the east side of the house. I'm crossing my fingers that it survives. We're replacing it with a 'Kwanzan' cherry tree to match the other two trees in the front yard.



So has anyone else found that renovation projects never go quite as planned? It seemed like there was a little problem or two with each part of the project. The new concrete pad isn't quite level (should have asked for references). So the steps couldn't be quite level. The old composite decking was really faded, so the new planks don't match. Don't even get me started on the strange gutter setup - that's going to get changed eventually. We saved siding from the sides of the house when the masons added stone facing there and used it to replace the gingerbread accent siding above the garage. It doesn't quite match, as you can see, but new siding would have been even worse since it wouldn't have been faded at all. Hopefully the summer sun on our southern exposure will even things up over time. Fade, baby, fade!



The photo above nearly screams for plants to cover the bare dirt. Getting the rest of the plants in place will really make things look better. We have new lights and shutters sitting in our garage, but hubby has been too busy with other projects to put them up yet. Lately health problems have been slowing me down in the garden and on the computer (my posts might be sporadic for a while here). So all projects are moving along at a snail's pace.



This last shot shows the west garden with its new flagstone path and stone column. When we moved in, that west side was just a spot for the leftover plants that I didn't want in the front. But right now it's the garden that I'm most excited about, especially since our kitchen window looks out that way. I can't wait to enjoy looking at vividly colored blooms on either side of the flagstone while doing piles of not-so-enjoyable dishes.
Thanks again to Susan for the great steps idea. I hope to post pictures of the 100% finished project eventually . . .

21 comments:

  1. Hi VW,

    It looks great, I would never even consider making such changes... Goes to show I have lots to learn yet :)

    I'm sure the borders will soon look nice and mature and the different in colour will be far less obvious.

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  2. Oh, I can really see a big difference. It is a lot more open and welcome looking with the wider steps. It never fails that when you think you have a simple little remodel that everything needs changed in the end. LOL! It looks wonderful!

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  3. I LOVE YOU NEW STEPS! (What is the matter?)

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  4. What a difference! That is quite the renovation. Congrats and can't wait to see 100% finished in the summer time.

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  5. I love it! Even with the garden still it its baby stages, the house feel so much more welcoming. The garage doors are so prominent in newer homes (mine included) that they become the unintended focal point - your redo has brought the focus back to the front door.

    And yes, things ALWAYS go wrong with projects!

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  6. What a wonderful makeover! I can "hear" your excitement about gardening with these changes.

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  7. I do like the wide steps and the porch will be a good gathering spot...Before long you'll have flowers settled in and looking lovely~~gail

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  8. This is amazing! You must be so happy with the result, issues and all, what a positive change. Your neighbors must be so jealous. THe plants will only make it look even better. Congrats and I hope you are feeling better soon.

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  9. It looks great! I'd been looking forward to seeing how it turned out. The wide steps really do balance it all out. I wonder if any of your neighbors will use your design as well. Every project we've ever done had something that didn't quite go as planned, it's seems to be part of the way things go sometimes.
    Hope you are feeling better soon.

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  10. Hi VW~~ Sorry to read that you're dealing with health issues. I hope all is well soon.

    Rest assured the steps and concrete LOOK level. Must have been frustrating dealing with all of the snafus. But oh my, how refreshing the outcome is, a beautiful job, VW. I enjoy your posts and look forward to the next.

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  11. VW .. it looks gorgeous even without all the plants you must have in mind for it : )
    No renovation project gets by without problems .. it is the "Law to renovations" that everyone has to go through ? LOL
    Soon you will notice them less and less and center on the garden plants girl : )
    Joy

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  12. I love how the new steps have opened up the front of your house. I have been looking forward to seeing the changes. I love the new beds and the curved lines.

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  13. Everything LOOKS wonderful! You will make the necessary changes so you'll be happy with such things as the downspout, etc. However, you will be happy with all the changes and we'll have fun watching things grow! :-)

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  14. I saw this post on Blotanical this morning and found the transformation amazing. It is quite a change and wowed me even without the finery of summer:)

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  15. WOW! No one but you and your husband will notice the tiny issues. The rest of us say WOW! Hats off to Susan for the wide steps idea, and congrats to the VW family for the lovely stone work and execution. With your green thumb there will soon be masses of leaves and blooms to decorate the new front garden. WOW. And take care of yourself...

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  16. What a difference you have made and it really opened it up. Like Catherine said...it looks more balanced. I like what you have done on the side of your house, too. Nice path!

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  17. can't wait to see your bloosms are blooming!

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  18. Wow, your house looket nice before but this was even better!

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  19. Your new steps make your front entrance so welcoming. The plants will fill in eventually. Super super super!!!
    Hope you are ok, health issues sounds scary.

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  20. Hi VW, I'm sorry to hear you have health issues, hope you are better soon. I think all that bare earth looks great, full of potential wonder. Re snails pace - what's the hurry? Snail's pace is faster than rock's pace (lol)cheers, catmint

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  21. hi good day! nice post great for an event .. thanks for the idea. i think that it is also perfect to have a special events on a garden . very impressive! . attraction of the plants and garden accessories such as windspinners and other garden accessories . very nature theme . anyways thank you i hope to read more post from you . my friends gonna love this !

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