Tag Archive | DIY

Finally…A Front Porch!

Before I hand things over to Ellowyne, I just want to thank the Lord for helping me complete this project that’s been two years in the making. I’ve prayed over this porch every step of the way—from prayers that I wouldn’t fudge on the detailed painting to prayers that I would make the correct cuts to prayers that I could drill straight holes, etc.—and I just have to point out the obvious: God answered every prayer.

He gave me steady hands when I used the drill—especially during the more stressful moments when I had to attach the brace for the swing, when I attached the railings to the posts, and when I fastened the roof to the back wall. He gave me strength and judgment several times when I had to wrestle with the roof and a free-standing wall (not yet attached to the base and propped up only by a child’s chair) to insure they would mount properly with the porch posts before I could begin securing things together. And considering I had never attempted such a project before, it was only through God downloading His creativity into me via insights, epiphanies, and good advice from my hubby and my dad that allowed all the different pieces of this porch to actually fit together in the end! So, THANK YOU, LORD, for being present in the details.

(And thanks to Mike Harrison for letting me use his drill press, without which I couldn’t have created my railings!)

Ellowyne? Do you have anything to add?

Well, of course I do! Let’s not forget all the help we dolls gave you at the end, there! I’ve got pictures documenting it all. See for yourself:

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Here we are at the beginning, having a little pow-wow before getting down to the nitty-gritty.

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Here we are, anchoring the back wall to the porch floor and reattaching the lanterns.

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Prudence and Spring fit the porch posts and railings into the floor.

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Here we are enjoying a job well done and celebrating the fact we now have more square footage in which to stretch—and play and chat and vent and…you get the picture.

Some interesting tidbits you might like to know about this porch’s development:

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The swing cushions inhabit what otherwise would hold birdseed.

Laurie’s oldest daughter initially came up with the idea for a porch when Laurie was pondering future diorama possibilities (this was before my shelves in the dining room were even in the lineup). Laurie then told her mother in MA about the idea, her mother later shared the idea with Laurie’s aunt in TN during a visit, and you know what Aunt Fran said? “Every porch needs a swing.” So she bought a cedar swing originally intended to hold birdseed, fashioned cushions for the swing, and sent it on to Laurie in MT. More than a year later, that swing finally has a home. 🙂

Laurie knew she eventually wanted lanterns to flank the front door, but they had to be the correct scale, so naturally the prevalent three-inch lanterns she could find just about anywhere wouldn’t do. At last she scored after this past Christmas season when she found on clearance a set of twelve plastic lanterns fitted with a string of Christmas lights. The easy part was in popping off the lanterns from the mini light bulbs. The hard part was figuring out how she wanted to attach the lanterns to the back wall and how she could make them light up—because we dolls need functioning lanterns, after all! In the end, she used cup hooks screwed into the wall, black chain links, some black wire, and mini, battery-operated party lights that she can change out when the batteries die (or change the batteries—whichever one is a cheaper fix!).

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Lantern with mini party light

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Working lanterns!

The railings are made from trim bought at the hardware store and lots of spindles ordered online from a craft supply store. Using Mike’s drill press, Laurie drilled holes into the flat side of the trim and, after painting all required pieces, she glued the spindles into the holes. The railings were later attached to the posts (originally stair balusters) via small nails used as pegs for precision fit and strength. Strength, you ask? Well, you see how Mistletoe and Tori treat the railings!

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Two things Laurie had to keep in mind when creating this porch:

  1. It had to involve affordable materials so her hubby’s eyes wouldn’t bulge when he read the credit card statements.
  2. Even once she put it together, the porch had to be able to come apart—just in case. So the big pieces like the roof, back wall, and floor are only attached to each other by screws, and the railing system fits into holes in the floor and holes in the roof braces. No glue.
To show you the scale, here's Laurie standing beside the porch.

To show you the scale, here’s Laurie standing beside the porch, which measures 2 ft tall, 4 ft wide, and 16 inches deep.

All in all, we dolls are as pleased as inanimate objects can be over the completion of our front porch! As you can see, we didn’t waste time decorating for autumn…

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…since in a few days we’ll be bringing out the Christmas decorations (yeah, we do that early in this household!). I’m thinking strings of Christmas lights around the railings…a wreath on the door…and maybe we can wedge a Christmas tree over there in the corner! What do you say, Laurie? Think you can find us a twenty-two-inch Christmas tree?

Oh, and I wanted to discuss with you some plans for a possible back porch, now that you know how to go about making these structures. A balcony might be nice down the road, too—

Laurie?

Laurie?

Um, girls…I need some smelling salts over here!

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We’ve been shuttered!

“So what have you been up to today?” my mom asked during our late Saturday afternoon phone call last week.

I smiled. “I finished making the shutters for my house.”

Pause. Then, “For your house…or Ellowyne’s?”

Touché, Mom.

Considering the plethora of doll-sized work I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, her question didn’t surprise me. In fact, the clarification of whose shutters I had made was on the tip of my tongue when she voiced her confusion.

Rest assured, Ello’s front porch will have shutters—but the ones I completed are for my human-sized house.

A little back-story here. Though Kreh and I have lived out west for more than twelve years now (!), we were both born and raised in New England, and there are things back east we still enjoy—the fall foliage being one of them. 😉 Shutters flanking house windows are another. I felt that very strongly with my recent visit back “home,” where the majority of houses—even those newly built—have shutters. Out here in my corner of Montana, the majority of homes do not have shutters. When Kreh and I go for a drive, while he is on the lookout for wildlife, I am on the lookout for cute houses—and nine times out of ten, the houses I consider cute are those adorned with shutters.

For me, a house without shutters is like an actress at the Oscars without any bling. Something’s missing.

Naturally, then, when Kreh and I bought our current house, one of the things we wanted to do was add shutters.

Something's definitely missing...

Something’s missing…

That was almost six years ago!

But it all came together so quickly and easily, I’m flabbergasted as to why we didn’t do this during year one!

I built the shutters out of cedar picket fence boards, cutting them to size and angling the corners at the top where applicable. When all the pieces were cut and knowing I was going to screw in the horizontal pieces from the back, I drew lines on the garage floor using a right-angle ruler and my children’s chalk to indicate where to place the horizontal slats and where to place the vertical pieces so things would look even and uniform from the front when all was said and done. Cedar is soft wood, which means no pre-drilling for the screws, so while my girls played inside with their American Girl dolls, I put together seven pairs of shutters.

Cut the boards...

Cut the boards…

Assemble the boards...

Assemble the boards…

That evening, Kreh and I laid out planks of wood in the backyard, upon which I set down all the shutters and for three and a half hours the next Sunday afternoon/early evening, I stained both sides of fourteen shutters.

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Stain the boards…

And Kreh went hunting.

(I’m teasing him with that last comment. In truth, he felt a little guilty leaving me to do all the staining, but I urged him to go hunt. We all need time for our passions, otherwise we get cranky. And Kreh blessed our family that night with a bull elk for our freezer, so it was a win-win all around!)

Thanks, honey!

Thanks, honey!

Between Kreh’s success hunting, open house at the girls’ school, and our other “extra-curricular activities” during the week, it was late Friday evening before we finally attached the shutters to the house—and fully dark by the time we finished. I could hardly wait for the next morning to see fruit of our labor!

 

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Before…

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Before…

After...

After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up...

Close up…

Another view...

Another view…

So our dream of shutters took five years longer than anticipated to see realization, but it was well worth the wait. I might not have a green thumb, and landscaping is not one of my strengths, but with the help of my hubby’s power tools and the abilities God has given me, I’m grateful to be able to bring a bit of charm to our little Montana home.