Over eight months ago, I posted on instagram a picture of our “dream porch” and this sentence,

“After saving for years and living off our saved cash “porch fund” during 2 unemployments, this dream is going to be a reality.” EEK! #debtfreeliving #cashisking

A friend replied, “You are building my dream house.”

I showed my husband her comment. We chuckled, “If only she knew”.

Can I ask you a huge favor?

If you haven’t read the back story behind this front porch addition, pretty please take a minute (or two) and read it first.

I’ll wait, really, I will.

Without the understanding of why it took us 17 years to build this porch, it will be just another porch to pin, a beautiful “Before and after,” but it’s so much more than that.

With the back story, you’ll be encouraged that there are moments to choose joy along a difficult journey and that’s the message I want people to hear.

Pour some coffee. Go read Part 1 BEFORE reading this.

Are you done?

Ok, we can continue. 🙂

For the last seventeen years, the front of our house looked like this.
Sad, pathetic, neglected. It’s actually quite embarrassing to look at this picture, but it was our reality.

Every time we discussed adding some landscaping it ended with, “But then we’ll have to tear it all out when we build the porch and considering the porch will be done “next year (next year, next year), we’ll just enjoy our beautiful woods.)

Our homestead is set in the middle of wooded acreage and the natural beauty of that  covers a multitude of landscaping woes, although its hard to believe myself when I see the camera zoomed in like this. I wanted those ugly overgrown bushes out years ago. 😉

front of house in snowAs you read in Part 1, the desire to build a Front Porch was the reason behind our house design choice in the first place.

The Porch That Took 17 Years to Build - an inspiring story for anyone who wants their dream home

After we purchased our home and had settled in for about two years, we were ready to build.

“Back then”, one had to actually hire an architect to make sure we were on the same page as our builder. This was the first sketch that he faxed us, and it was fun to find it last year during this planning process.

Last year, when we approached the first builder for an estimate, we used our original drawing because of course, that was the porch we were building. Imagine my shock when it came in around $20k MORE than what we anticipated. Yes, you read that right. Surely, it must have been a mistake,   so we asked a second builder’s estimate and the ball park was around the same.

By the third estimate, we realized that the dream plan I’d held tightly to for nearly two decades needed to be adjusted.

The decision to scale back began, but admittedly, after saving all these years for THIS porch, it took a slight attitude adjustment to realize that if we wanted to stay close to budget, our “dream porch” had to become a new dream porch. One that fit into our budget.

A flat roof topped the list of our “must haves,” but as we hashed it through with the builder, that “must have” ultimately needed to be released. That was a hard one for me, but in making the switch from a flat roof to one with a slight pitch elevation, we saved $10K, plus the cost of the railings.

Yes, a significant savings.

The original architect’s plan had the depth of the porch at 10 feet. I wanted it to run 10 feet deep all the way across the house, then jet out to 12’ x 12’ squares around the corners to make two large living areas before wrapping around both sides of the house. We now wish that we would have made that even a bit larger.

Most porches are 6 feet deep, but that doesn’t allow for real living to occur, so having it wider was critical. Having large dinner parties, rehearsal dinners for all the kids and more, set the tone for our desired depth.

We realized that if we decreased the width from 10 feet deep to 8 feet it still gave enough room for full length tables with chairs, plus saved us thousands.

We also determined that we didn’t need to wrap around on both sides of the house and even adjusted the “porch look” on one side, to less expensive decking with no roof.

Ideally, this is where a garage might attach some days, so with that reasoning, we wouldn’t have to waste the expensive part of the porch. 🙂

Using this side porch inspiration, painting the railings white is on our “to do” list.

It’s truly crazy how much every little addition increased the cost substantially. We had not anticipated how the cost of wood and supplies had sky rocketed over the last few years.

Our dream foundation was brick or really, any other choice besides lattice, but it was the least expensive option. We determined that once landscaping is completed, the foundation won’t be seen anyhow, so lattice is just fine.

As we tweaked and tweaked our plans to fit into our budget, we finally had to determine where to invest and that came in a last minute decision to upgrade flooring. It honestly took me two weeks to finally allow myself permission to go ahead and spend the money, since it was a substantial upgrade over decking.

Not only did we upgrade to flooring that we will never have to sand, stain or paint, but then we took it up one more notch to a tongue and groove look which really mimics indoor flooring (you can see it fully on the Part 1 post.) It really feels like a living room, rather than a deck and we love that.

Yes, there’s been many jokes going around about how our outdoor flooring is ten times nicer than our tacky flooring inside. (Read about our next project here.)

We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in March, and we decided that the upgrade would be our present to each other. We promised we’d still get away for the weekend, but (cough, cough) that still hasn’t happened yet. We will. 🙂

We added recessed lightening, as well as four ceiling fans throughout the length of the porch. It makes such a huge difference, and I’m so glad we didn’t cut corners on that. We also upgraded the lighting features on either side of the doors (not shown in the above pic.)

When I look at these two photos, I sure wish safety wasn’t an issue. I LOVE the look of the larger columns without any railing. It gives  the grand look that I so desired, but obviously with our house being set so high, that wasn’t an option.

 I understand the benefits of meeting the safety code. This porch will have our grand kids running around on here some day and I surely do not want to worry about those blessings falling down, but oh, I just love that look.

This porch celebrates life to its fullest. I wish you could all come sit and sip some tea and coffee with me and share life together. There’s just something better about doing it on a front porch. 🙂

Already, we’ve had hundreds of friends gather here and the memories created are exactly why I’ve been desiring it for such a long time.

(Yep, it fits 60 people with no problem.)

If you follow me on facebook or Instagram, (jenschmidt_beautyandbedlam),  you know first hand how it’s become an integral part of our day to day, and it’s just worth every second.

For those wondering from the pictures, it’s been six months now and there’s still not any landscaping or grass. Hopefully, we will be doing that in the spring and I’ve asked a landscape friend to help me design the layout.

As much as I can tackle the planting and manual labor with our big boys, I want to have cut flowers and blooming bushes year round and all the little details that can only come from someone with a better  knowledge of  landscape design than me. That too will be a worth investment.

For now, I will enjoy every bit of our porch and the natural beauty that surrounds it.

I’m fully content in this blessing of a porch that took us 17 years to receive and even though it’s been months since it’s been completed, I still pinch myself.

Periodically even our kids sit out there and mention, “I can’t believe it finally happened.”  It’s a totally new house.

This past year, I began pinning to my Front Porch Love board and since this is so similar to our home now, it gives me a vision for Christmas decorating. Last year, I bought a bunch of wreaths on sale “just in case,” but it might take another year to gather after Christmas sale items to reach this festive level.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I can’t wait to have fun with ours.

Thanks for journeying with me. It’s been fun to show you our porch and you will definitely see updates as we slowly furnish it more, add that landscaping and paint the railings.

Yes, step by step that dream porch is still a work in progress, just like me. 🙂

Edited to add three years after this post – I’m working on my next DREAM here...saving, dreaming and planning bit by bit. It doesn’t happen over night, but hoping it won’t take 17 years. 🙂