Thursday, August 28, 2014


So now that we've got the porch framed and the metal roof templated we're taking a breather for the Labor Day holiday.  While we take this break lets look at the end game.  My favorite part.  The decor.

The porch should be completed sometime this fall which allowed us to time the end of season patio furniture sale perfectly.  Lets be honest, when I say time the end of season sale it really just means I'll be gouged a little less than I would have been in June.  Seriously I had no idea I'd end up having to spend more for quality outdoor furniture than I would spend on my indoor furniture.  Well I didn't have to.  It isn't like someone holds a gun to your head telling you to buy wicker.  I digress.

We spend a good amount of time on our front porch.  While we love the back for BBQ'ing and pool time we love the front for some shade and to watch the boys swing on the tree swing.

Anyhoo I settled on this classic wicker set in dark brown.  Or 'mocha' as the store called it.  Which sounds silly so let's call it dark brown.  The cubes will do double duty as our coffee table and extra storage for pillows, etc.  The set came with bright white cushions but with three little boys I expect them to stay white for approximately 8 minutes.  So I also ordered the Sunbrella slipcovers in yellow as a nice contrast against the brick.  Those Sunbrella slipcovers better look great for years to come and with as expensive as they were I think they should also promise to do my laundry.

Below are two different ways to style the porch using the same furniture to take us from spring to fall.  Now we just need to finish this sucker so we can finally sit down on our new furniture!

Summer Porch

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The race is on to get the porch roof and gutters up before we enter hurricane season.  The framing is just about done and we have to get the sheathing on before the roofers can come template for the roof.  The metal roof will be custom made, off-site so we really need to get this thing sheathed considering there is a 2-3 week turnaround time on the roof once they get started.

So we were especially excited to wake up to pouring rain on Saturday.

While the kids played basketball in the rain (interesting form right?)...

...Sean climbed up to the roof.  The absolute last place you want to be in the drenching rain.  My job was to play P-I-G with the boys and run back and forth with tools to pass up the ladder.  Cross-training workout.  

Step 1 was probably the most complicated part of this entire project.  We had to connect 2 roofs with 2 different pitches.  So.  Much.  Math.  I was sitting on the lawn with an iPad, googling "how to build a roof" and then reading the results to Sean as we built.  Total pros.  We ended up using this to help us.  

Once that was framed it was time to add the sheathing.  We thought this would be a walk in the park after the framing but after a full day of sitting on the roof in the rain our brains were soaked and it took a few tries to get this puzzle put together.

Eventually we got there.  Look at that.  A framed gable.

Just in time for me to meet with the roofer to get the template started.  Now we'll cover the gable with a really attractive tarp that the neighbors are thrilled about for the next 2-3 weeks.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Framing the Gable

'Sup Internet?

So now that we've been told by no fewer than two neighbors that gable construction is extremely complicated and because we've never done one before we decided we should totally build a gable.

This is all Sean.  Seriously the most capable human being I've ever met.  Easy on the eyes too.  He doesn't have a construction background at all and yet somehow he framed a gable.  So when I left you last we were looking at a lot of natural light coming into our front door due to our missing roof.

Roof building is super complicated unless you are some kind of geometry genius so I won't even try giving step by step instructions.  Actually now that you mention it porch building is not a DIY project.  Hire out.  Sean's just crazy.

This is the beginning of the framing.  The headers are protruding pretty far out but that is just because we weren't sure how much we were going to bring the gable out so we left ourselves options until we decided. 

Then a few days later we Sean finished the framing.  You'll notice a little fanciness in the front triangle.  I'm sure there are more technical construction terms for "fanciness" and "front triangle" but I'm an accountant not a builder so fanciness it is.  This is the framework for the recessed inlay we're going for.  There will be a strip of black metal (matching the roof) that will run along the base of the triangle and then the rest will be trimmed out in white.

Sean's goal was to sheathe by the end of last weekend so at 9 PM Sunday night, after the kids went to bed, we donned our camping headlights and I handed 5' sheets of plywood up to a husband standing on a framed-in roof in the dark.  I still can't believe we haven't made any ER trips.  So far the pace has had to be crazy because heading into hurricane season without a roof or gutters would be bad news bears.

Goal achieved.  2 sheets of plywood are up.  Now comes the part Sean has been dreading.  Figuring out how to tie the old roof angles in with the new roof angles.  My head hurts just thinking about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here Goes Nothing...

Good news!  The township has given us approval on the gable construction so now our porch project changes over from being a repair and reinforce job to new construction.  Gulp.  Have I told you we've never built a porch before?

After reinforcing the old roof and then propping up the entire structure using 2x6's it was now or never on cutting out the center.  What a mess.

First Sean cut the middle section so that it was just resting in place.  To get the roof lifted off and away from the house he used a couple car jacks to lift the entire thing up 6."  Then (and I'm so glad the kids and I weren't home for this) he tied the roof to our jeep and yanked it off the house.  Seriously.  By some miracle the roof came off with no damage done to the house and no trips were made to the ER.

And there you have it.

Now to figure out how to build a gable.  Google here we come.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sconce Makeover

Mama loves these sconces.  Mama doesn't want to pay $400 for these sconces.

Pottery Barn
These are the drab gray sconces that came with the house.  First I cleaned them.

Then I taped everything but the metal.

Sprayed them hammered metal black.

Better already.

Then I used what we have no shortage of in our house (grocery and home depot bags) and covered everything but the tops.

...and sprayed them hammered copper.

Definitely doesn't look as good as the $400 version but it was 2% of the price so it'll work for now.  I'm not totally sold on them.  Do I leave them two toned or spray it all back to black?

Friday, August 15, 2014


The thing that bugged me about our porch since the day we bought our house was the wimpy trim.  It wasn't high on my priority list since we were dealing with pink sparkly walls and 1960's plumbing but it bugged me every time I looked at it.

Time to fix that.

We're going with PVC column wraps to cut down on warping and maintenance.  The posts that came with the house are 4.5."  I created paper templates of my 2 standard wrap options (6" and 8").  You can see I took this shot a week or so ago when Kai was still with us and very involved with the porch construction.  Pretend the templates are 1/2" bigger since I screwed that up.  Then pretend that there are additional wraps on the bottom and crown trim at the top to beef it up a bit.  So basically don't look at the picture at all because they're all the wrong sizes. Spoiler alert, we settled on the 6"ers.  I'm still hemming and hawing but that train has left the station so 6" it will be.

The other thing that always bugged me is that the columns were centered on the porch and not on the door. I have no idea why the door isn't centered (it is close and could have been) so hopefully the gable will give it a more obvious place to put the posts.  Also the posts on either end were cut in 1/2 (were they being cheap?) down the middle so there were 1/2 posts on the ends.

We swapped the 3 full posts and 2 1/2 posts with 6 full, beefier posts and moved the interior posts so that the better aligned with the door.  We'll install the white column wraps at the end of the project.

It still looks like a mess but definitely a much more secure mess.

Now that the porch is full secured the next part is (gulp) cutting out the middle section and building a crazy complicated gable that we've never built before.  What could go wrong?

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Time to fix the dangerous, falling down roof.

Step 1 - demo fascia, gutters, trim, etc.  Of course we like to time the gutter removal for a day or so before a big rain storm.

Step 2: Repair some slate tiles that had come loose over time so that we have a solid foundation to put the new posts on.  Definitely a project you should wait to do until after the kids are in bed and it is pitch dark so you can't see anything while you're rushing around before the concrete sets.

Step 3: Support the porch temporarily so it didn't crash down on us when we were working.  You'll notice I'll use the word "we" generously throughout.  This was all Sean.  Seriously this guy is amazing.  Mama says she wants a gable and Mama gets a gable.

After we (see?) pulled down the ceiling we noticed that hollow block was used for the section hidden in the pitched roof section.  This created a lot of head scratching trying to figure out how to secure a ledger board into a hollow surface.  I went to Home Depot and bought every option they had.  Our credit card ended up getting flagged for unusual activity.  $1,500 in anchors and bolts is not unusual activity for us.  That is called Saturday.

We ended up using a combination of epoxy anchors and thru bolts.  I had never heard of epoxy anchors but they're pretty cool.  Basically you can inject epoxy into the a mesh screen and then screw your anchor into the epoxy and it holds as if you drilled directly into concrete.  Not cheap but it works.  We alternated every 16" with this method and thru bolts.  Thru bolts bolt through the block and connect with a nut on the other side.  How do you attach the nut when you've got walls on the other side?  Lots and lots of holes in the drywall.  I see spackling in my future.

Look how pretty and secure those new ledger boards and headers look.  I'll get into some more detail on the posts later but don't they look nice and strong?

I no longer feel the desire to run across the porch quickly when I walk about my front door.  Always a good thing. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Today was an impossibly sad day in the Martin house.  We had to say goodbye to the 4 legged member of the Martin men after a long battle with cancer.

We adopted Kai as a puppy from a shelter when Sean and I were newly engaged.  He spent every day of his puppy years at the dog park.  Our only "child" at the time and we spoiled him.

 He welcomed his three little brothers and took on the role of protector and life guard.  Kai was not an alpha dog by nature so at times he seemed stressed by his new role but he dutifully took it on anyway.  "Kai" would go on to become all three boys' first word.

As a pup he was always getting himself into trouble.  One time he was mad at my husband for traveling so he bit off every single button off his work shirts.  Another time he managed to eat a box of tile spacers (makes for interesting poop cleanup) and an entire bottle of Advil.  Despite warnings from the vet that he probably wouldn't survive, he came home 3 days later, wagging his tail as if nothing had happened.  Don't even get me started on the time he chased a goose into a river, only to get swept away and need rescuing a mile down river.  It should have come as no surprise then that he'd sale through 7 months of chemotherapy and outlive his prognosis many times over.

He was a scrappy mutt but carried himself as an elder statesman.

Kai could not be left in the house while we were in the pool or he would literally try to chew his way out to get to us.  Whenever anyone was in the pool he would swim laps as our lifeguard.  Barking if it seemed like anyone was in trouble.

He was a great companion and friend.

Kai was a naturally anxious dog so the boys stressed him at times but man did he love them...

...and did they love him. 

He was a dog who loved life... 

...and his family pack.

In the end, he ended up leaving our world in the same way he came into it.

He will be missed.  RIP Kai.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Go Time

When I left you last the house was looking like this.  A porch that was pulling away from the house.  Dangerous.

We pulled down the ceiling and we were left with this.

So we formulated our plan and had a bunch of lumber delivered.

This is what construction go time looks like in our house.

Here goes nothing!