My son and I make front porch the priority project

by Denise Dykstra

I have a thing about front porches. I can’t help but notice as I drive by them. I have been known to send people a note saying, “I just want you to know, your front porch is adorable. Great work on that!”

If you ask my youngest son, he has some ideas for our front porch. He tells me how we need to build out the porch, wrap it around the house to include our large front window, extend it over to the “porch room,” and make sure we lay it with the deck boards that will never go bad. We need to have the porch braced up with some big wooden pillars, we can even use rocks if I insist, and a railing might be nice, too.

Abe is for hire if you need to dream up your front porch, back porch or backyard fish pond.

While I like his ideas a lot, he seriously has a talent with this sort of thing, that really wasn’t going to happen in a day.

On our one beautiful, felt-as-if-summer-had-arrived-day we had this past weekend, Abe and I worked on redecorating the front porch.

My great regret is that I took zero photos before and after. Our front porch is a bit of an anomaly.

Our “main” front porch is a typical ranch style. Its flooring is some sort of tile that really wants to be redone, but we keep trying to glue it back in place. Abe and I are of the same thought that maybe the tiles will win the battle this year and really do need to be replaced. Knowing us, we’ll try gluing them back one more time. It’s a narrow porch, and it is the porch you see as you drive by.

But if you step down off the front porch toward our driveway, you are suddenly on the “room” porch. I know, it’s hard to imagine without being there, but stay with me here.

This “room” porch holds the door into our home that all of us who live here use. It walks us through the breezeway of the house. And let me just say that “breezeway” is another way of saying “dump room.” I try to glam it up, and call it the “front room,” but it’s not glam. That room gets everything dumped into it, and I feel utter embarrassment if anyone walks through it to enter our home… well, other than us.

But the way the house is built, we have this large “room” in front of the breezeway door. At first, when we moved into this house, we didn’t know what to do with it. We used it to park bikes in its large, odd area, or store outdoor tools, etc. But then I decided to try to make it “pretty” and bless my boys for rolling with it.

I begin around January, asking all my boys (even the ones who don’t live here anymore) what they think we should do with the front porch. They have long learned that you never tell me, “Just do what you did last year” because they know the challenge is always to make that front porch unlike any other way it has been in the past. Also, only use what we have on hand.

In all my home decorating and room rearranging, I always try to look around with fresh eyes to find what I can use to repurpose into something else to create a new look. I know a lot of design shows give us the look of these beautiful white porches with fancy, glass knick knacks. I feel many of you may have guessed by now that that is not how we roll around here. Did you catch that this part of the house was once used to park all the bikes and the outdoor equipment?

My design is more, “Can we spray it down to clean it?” But it is also, “How many people do you think we could fit here?”

I am always mentally trying to fit everyone on the front porch. If my neighbor is out and sees me on the porch, I want them to know there is room for them on the porch as well. If we have worked hard all day and need some cool iced tea at night, I want to make sure every one of us has a space to sit and relax, as well as have a place to rest their glass of tea. My neighbor who literally lives across the street has porch parties with us. We sit around and talk and laugh into the night once we get our daily activities wrapped up for the day.

It’s a challenge to put the porch together, but I am always excited to take it on, even if it exasperates me in the process.

With our forecast telling us how beautiful this past Saturday would finally be, I told anyone and everyone, I was going to work on that porch. But when Saturday arrived, Abe took one look at me and took full pity on me. It’s not what a 16-year-old boy would prefer to do on the first 80-degree sunny Saturday of the year, but he helped me pull off the porch project.

Before we do anything, we pull off everything that was on the porch over the winter. Our front yard looked like a very pitiful yard sale for a while. Then Abe helped me haul all the stored items to the porch, and rearrange them in a new whole different design from the year before.

Abe is also my expert water fountain guru. I just told him he is, so he is. He painstakingly puts together my water fountain for me to make it just right. He cleans out the algae, fills it with the proper sand and rocks, then he finds me the fish we need to add to it when it finally decides to be spring in West Michigan full time.

We worked for quite a few hours on Saturday. The porch project isn’t done yet. It needs some serious tweaking. But the first part is in place, and I feel settled hope; if the porch is in order, spring is sure to follow.

As Abe scrubbed a winter’s worth of bird poop off a chair, he asked me what I was going to do when he moved away and wasn’t around to help me with my porch decorating anymore. I had a quick response. “Bribe you with food, I guess. You’ll always want to come for food and then I’ll say, ‘Oh look! It’s porch decorating day too!’

He laughed.

Porch time is for sure one of my favorite parts of our warm weather seasons. The porch is a great place to visit with neighbors or get relief from the summer sun.

But my most favorite part of porch season is all the memories and time spent on them with my boys. When they were young, I would sit and read to them from Gary Paulsen books. I would rock in an old rocker on my front porch while watching them play for innumerable hours in the sand box at our old house. I have played audio books for them at our current home while I knitted and they played the ukulele or worked on some other project.

I stand on the broken, tiled porch and wave to them as they leave our home for another adventure, even if that adventure is just the half mile drive up the road to school for the day.

I hope that I have managed to instill a long lasting love of front porches in my boys.

Do you have a fondness for front porches? Do you decorate your front porch every year like I do? Share your stories with me!

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