Front Porch Decor: A Wintery Welcome!

a wintery welcome

Last spring/summer, I was on a mission to give our front porch a facelift. It is a beautiful outdoor space, but I had never taken anytime to make it anything more than a place to sit. The overhaul involved several DIY projects and repurposing items we already had. I was really pleased with how it turned and we spent lots of time truly enjoying the new porch decor over the summer months. However, when fall rolled around, I quickly realized that the design was much more suitable for summer and that I would need to somehow “winterize” the look.

Over the past few months, I haven’t had much time for projects, but I did spend several hours gathering ideas and materials. Last weekend, I finally took the time and pulled many of them together to create a new look for winter and Christmas. I didn’t want it too be too Christmassy because I really didn’t want to have to rethink the space when the holidays are over. I think I managed to create a look that has a hint of Christmas, but with a few minor changes, it can transition into a look that will last the entire winter.

To achieve the look, I incorporated some of the pieces that I had used in my summer porch design such as the milk can and the Welcome sign. I may make a Christmas sign at some point, but for now this will work.

I had originally made this rustic tree branch tree for my front porch, but in the end, loved it so much that I decided to place it in the living room because our main tree is always set-up in the dining room where there is more room. We have a wood burning fireplace in the living room and having a smaller tree in this space will be perfect. (It is yet to be moved as we won’t be getting our live Christmas tree until next weekend!)

Pallet Trees:

I love the look of pallet Christmas trees and decided to pick some up through Kijiji. Although there are many places that offer them for free, I ended up purchased two for $30. That might seem silly but they were already stained a dark brown colour and there were no spaces between the planks, so there were plenty of planks to work with.

  1. The first thing I needed to do was dismantle the pallets. This is never a fun job, but I opted for what I deem to be the simplest solution. Use a sawzall!

2. Once the pallets were taken apart, I began to cut, build and assemble. I followed this tutorial from Funky Junk Interiors. I absolutely love the tree she created with old fencing, but I didn’t have the time or energy to recreate the look. The tutorial is super easy to follow and the only change I made was making the bottom plank on my largest tree larger so that the finished tree would be taller. I was on a bit of a roll and ended up making two larger trees for my front porch as well as three smaller ones…and I still have wood left.

3. Once my trees were built, I opted to finish off the look by adding some white using the “dry brush” technique. (Dry brushing is really just what it implies…you add a very sparse amount of paint using a very dry brush and apply it with very light strokes. This may also mean removing some of the paint you put on brush before actually applying it to the surface of your project. I will often use a scrap piece of cardboard to brush off the excess paint before applying it to my project.) Because the pallets were already stained a dark brown, white was the perfect finishing touch. It was well worth the $30 for all the extra planks I got as well as the time saved not having to stain and dry before applying the dry brushed white coat.

Other Elements in the Design:

  • I absolutely love the look of birch and had purchased some birch scrap wood a few weeks back knowing I wanted to somehow incorporate it into my finished project. I decided to use the milk can I already had as a “vase” for the birch. I wrapped the branches in twine, added a simple embellishment and a few sprigs of white “ting” to finish off the arrangement.
  • As mentioned before, I knew that I didn’t want the decor to be too Christmassy, so I aimed at more of a winter look. I found this old rotting sleigh on Kijiji for $30. I scraped and sanded it to removed most of the peeling paint and then gave it two coats of exterior white paint. Once thoroughly dry, I sanded it back to distress it slightly. I also gave the metal gliders a coat of black spray paint in my spray tent. I love the way it turned out. All I added to the sleigh was a plaid blanket that I picked up for a few bucks at a thrift store.
  • The front door holds the rag wreath that I made a few years ago. I still love the white shabby chic look.
Rag Wreath
  • On the opposite side of the front door, I placed a small artificial tree. I decorated it very simply with white lights, pinecones and tufts of white artificial snow. I purposely chose not to use ornaments as I figured the simple wintery look would allow me to leave the display up through the winter. ( I guess I could also use ornaments and then replace them with pinecones/snow after Christmas!?…Maybe next year!)
  • I picked up this beautiful antique speckled pot at an antique sale this fall. I love it and it is the perfect container for the collection of dollar store snowballs!
  • I used scrap wood to create these simple wooden presents that can be removed after Christmas. Once again, I applied white paint using the dry brush technique and then added burlap and twine for a simple rustic look.
  • The finishing touches: To finish off my winter/Christmas vignette, I added a few garage sale finds…..a vintage suitcase, an antique sewing machine drawer filled with pinecones and a very weathered chair (not bad for a $1). I also used a grapevine wreath I had in my basement, a galvanize pitcher and lantern from my summer decor and an antique type writer with the beginnings of a “letter to Santa”. (I will remove the typewriter after Christmas.)

I love the way it all came together in the end. Sometimes it is hard to envision what the finished design will look like. I had so many ideas and items I wanted to incorporate, but really had to wait until I set it up to see what would work and where.

I’m already planning a fall porch design for next year….a back to school theme. I already have something on my “To Do List” for next summer! Yikes!!

DIY Front Entrance Make-Over

Well, the kids are off to camp and I am up to my neck in projects.  Yesterday was productive, but I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped.  I had some errands to do and was meeting some friends from work for lunch and an Ikea shopping trip.  We are re-designing our staff room at work and so we thought we would go and look at some tables and chairs for our newly created space.  So, yesterday seemed to be gone in a heart beat.  I got up, showered, ate, wrote my post, met the gals from work, did my own errands and got home just in time to give my husband a big kiss before he left for work.  I had a quick dinner and then set to work on my “to do” list.  I had a very productive evening, but none of my projects are ready to post, so I thought I would share one of our accomplishments from last year’s summer camp week.

Front Door and Entrance Before Shots

Our home is an Arts and Crafts style home that was built in 1921.  When we purchased the home there was an aluminum screen door on the front which we both hated.   Issue number two was our crazy front entrance.  Once inside the house, the entry consists of a narrow hallway with two little alcoves along the left wall.  Both are recessed about 12″.  Of course, this is not deep enough for an actual front entrance closet, so in the first one, we installed an antique wall mount table and in the second we put up hooks to accommodate the coats and backpacks.  However, the reality was that the entrance was a complete eye-sore and I hated it, despite all the beautiful woodwork and charm. (A few of these shots are a bit dark, not sure why, but it will give you an idea of what we were dealing with.)

Project Number 1:  Replace the Screen Door

Well, we found a door (at The Old House Revival Company) that would fit the oversized opening and my husband installed it during summer camp week 2012. This ended up being a pretty major project that kept him busy for a couple of days. He sanded it roughly, but we really wanted it to show all of its age and wear, so I just stained over what wasn’t sanded off. We love the finished product and the “slam” of the wood on wood when the door closes….it seems to take you back in time. Of course, this project was not nearly as easy as it sounds. Tim had to cut down the door to fit, and it was lots of work to get it to hang and close properly in the existing door jam. He also had to install a screen as the door did not come with one.  All in all, I love the change and it seems to fit better with the era and style of our house.

vintage wood screen door

Project Number 2A:  Install an Antique Solid Oak Door on 2nd Alcove

We found an antique oak door on Kijiji that only needed to be trimmed down slightly to fit the space.  It was quite a bit of work to sand and stain it, but I think the finished result is good and it matches well with our existing woodwork.  The door we purchased had 9 panes of beveled glass at the top.  In addition to the two alcoves, the hallway is banked with 4 French Style doors, each with 15 panes of beveled glass. Although the glass would have matched okay, I wanted a bit of a different look and it was important to hide the contents of the closet (or it would defeat the whole purpose of installing a door.)  We also had to install a plate to cover the deadbolt that was previously installed in the door.  The black hardware is different than the other hardware in the house, but I think it still works okay.

Project Number 2B:  Faux Tin Tiles

I decided to try to create the look of tin tiles in lieu of the glass panes.  I found a tutorial on Pinterest and used it as a guide to create my own faux tin tiles for the door.  The tiles were made using aluminum foil baking sheets that I purchased at Dollarama. Basically, I used one of the free patterns offered with the tutorial and etched it onto the aluminum foil squares I had previously cut to size.  I used an embossing tool to do the etching.  I then used a combo of brown and white shoe polish to distress each of the 9 pieces.

tin tilesall 9 tin tiles







The New Entry Gallery

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