Breathing New Life into Our Dried Out Front Porch

As soon as I discovered our 97 year old Craftsman bungalow in Arlington, Virginia on Zillow I squealed with delight.  (Here is my full blog post about the new house, if you missed it.)  The listing photos weren’t great and you could tell the home had been neglected a bit, but I saw loads of potential as long as we were up for putting in a little work.  We’re renting, but the owners (who have never lived here and bought just recently because of the location) plan on doing a full renovation or perhaps even a teardown once they move back to the US in a few years, so we are able to make updates if we want to.  I know most people wouldn’t put work into a place that they’ll only live in for a couple of years, but I like to decorate a home and make it look as nice as possible even if we won’t be there for the long term and even if we aren’t the true owners.  Frequently moving and choosing to bloom where we’re planted is a way of life for us military families, I suppose!

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Front Porch Pressure Washing Transformation

Here is what the house looked like when Tom moved in (a month before I arrived):

craftsman bungalow front porch

The front porch had great bones with white pillars, a simple staircase, a pretty blue front door, a cute little brass mailbox (our mail is actually delivered there!), and a haint blue ceiling.  I think it’s supposed to have railings, but I don’t mind.  Anyway, the siding was really dirty, the wood was gray and weathered, there were weeds growing around all of the pavers at the bottom of the stairs, and it didn’t have the charm that it deserved.  It just looked like a sad little house but I saw so much possibility!

craftsman bungalow with carport

Before I drove up from South Carolina I asked Tom to paint the risers of the stairs white.  I think that makes stairs look better from the street and I’m really happy he was able to tackle this for us.  I also want to paint the lower brick and lattice portion, the side of the stairs, and anything vertical that hasn’t been painted yet, but I haven’t gotten around to that part yet.  A neighbor offered us a boxwood that she didn’t need anymore after they had a pool added to their backyard, so that will be planted in that big blank spot on the right after we paint.  Here is what it looked like once he made that update:

painting stair risers painting stair risers white

I honestly thought the gray wood floor was so bad and old looking that it should probably be painted for safety purposes because I didn’t want it to give the kids splinters if they walked on it with bare feet.  I decided I’d try pressure washing it first though, just in case.  And I’m so glad I did!  I’m shocked at the transformation.  It went from gray and weathered and dry looking to looking like fresh lumber!  Here are some before pressure washing photos:

before pressure washing stairs and pavers siding and porch before pressure washing pavers before pressure washing before pressure washing wood floor

I’m seriously so surprised and had no clue that this kind of transformation was possible.  This is the pressure washer we have (it came highly recommended by my friend and fellow blogger Michelle Cannon Smith of Iron and Twine) and I used only water with the middle nozzle.  The pressure washer is only $119 and works really well and provides the perfect amount of power.  The floor probably needs some sort of seal on it now but I don’t know if we will do that.  I also pressure washed the siding with the middle nozzle and did the pavers with the turbo nozzle.  It took me 3 hours to do all of the pressure washing and I was filthy by the time I finished the pavers.  It was hard but really fun work and it was so satisfying to see all that grime wash away.  I’m so blown away by the difference!

Here are some during pressure washing photos:

pressure washing wood porch pressure washing porch floor

And now for the big reveal of what it all looks like now!

craftsman front porchblue bistro set on front porch boston ferns in hanging baskets front porch decorating with flowers front porch swing with blue pillow and natural pillow and blue and white ginger jarcraftsman home with front porch white front porch swing blue pot and blue front door with brass mailbox blue and white front porch with large sailors knot doormat

My first purchase for the porch was this bistro set from Amazon.  It’s only $109 and has free shipping and I love the classic style and the pretty French blue color of it.  It’s the perfect place to perch and drink coffee in the morning.  It used to come in a number of colors but I think it’s been a really popular item this summer, so colors are limited right now.  As I write this the blue is in stock though, so I’d recommend snagging it now if you’ve been looking for a beautiful and affordable bistro set!

french blue bistro set on front porch blue bistro table with flowers

Next up was hanging ferns.  We had ferns on the porch in our house in Kansas and I love the way they look.   I bought four Boston ferns from the hardware store and placed them in these hanging baskets.  (Be sure to also buy potting soil to fill in the space if you do the same!)  I had some black chain cut at Ace Hardware so that I could lower them a little bit.  It’s an extra step but I think it makes a huge difference and looks better than if you just hang the fern in the plastic container it comes in.  I used pliers to pull the links apart so that I could get the chain to the length I needed.  I opted for a chain that was 5 links long for each fern (and 4 links for one with a hook that was already installed that was longer than the rest).

boston fern with hanging basketfront porch swing with blue and white accentswhite hydrangeas in cane wrapped vase

I also bought 2 large french blue planters and planted a boxwood in each of them.  We get nice morning sun in the front yard and they seem to be doing well.  I’m not great with flowers so figured some nice evergreens would be a better option.  These are the planters I have, although mine seem to be a shorter version that I can’t find online.

blue front door with brass mailbox and boxwood in blue planter front porch with swing and hanging ferns

I added an oversized sailors knot doormat and I LOVE how big it is.  It truly makes a statement in an understated way!  It’s 31″ x 69″ and I got it at Final Cut Georgia (a must-visit if you’re even in the Augusta, Georgia area).  The closest sailors knot doormat I can find size-wise is this one from Serena & Lily.  Here is a more affordable smaller version though.

boxwood in large blue pot on front porch

The final part of the transformation was hanging a porch swing.  I wanted a simple one with clean lines that was relatively affordable, and after looking high and low I found the perfect one at Walmart for under $200!  This is the white porch swing I bought, but unfortunately it’s out of stock right now.  I’m really happy with how it looks and with the quality.  This white porch swing looks like a similar option that is still in stock.  Hanging it was kind of tricky because we needed to make sure we found the studs and I also wanted it centered with that side porch opening and the fern, and thankfully it all worked out!  This is the Dewalt drill we have and I have LOVED using it this summer since we moved into this house.  I’ve used it on a number of projects already and I now understand why people love their power tools!  We hung it up at 9PM as it was getting dark and am pleasantly surprised it didn’t end up crooked at all.  To finish up the look I brought in our vintage blue and white garden stool (this garden stool looks similar and is under $55), a white IKEA lantern, an old french blue pillow from Target, and I purchased a new natural colored outdoor pillow with tassels that I found at Target.  Unfortunately I can’t find it online but this faux natural woven pillow with pom poms would get you a similar look!

front porch swing with hanging ferns natural woven outdoor pillow craftsman front porch cane wrapped drinking glass on blue and white ginger jar

The blue dress with white stripes that I’m wearing in these photo is an Amazon find!  It looks and feels higher end but is such an affordable price, at only $27.99.  The smocked top fits really nicely and I love the midi length.  It runs true to size or maybe slightly small, so don’t size down if you get it.  My natural woven sandals from Target are my go-to sandals this summer.  They go with everything and I find myself pairing them with shorts and dresses alike!  They’d also go well with white jeans, and they’re only $22.99.  My Tuckernuck raffia earrings are light as a feather and make such a fun statement, yet they still act as a neutral.  Tuckernuck carries some really splurge-worthy pieces, but these earrings are a more affordable at $48.  My cane wrapped drinking glass was an Anthropologie purchase from a year or so ago, but they’re now available at Pottery Barn!  We have the tumbler and highball versions and we use them daily and love them!  My cane wrapped vase is from Amanda Lindroth and it’s a favorite of mine.

blue and white striped dress from amazon blue striped midi dress blue and white front porch and white hydrangeas blue and white striped dress with smocked top and flutter sleeves

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of our front porch!  I’ll be sharing more spaces as they’re finished here on the blog, but if you like seeing real-time updates then please make sure you’re following on Instagram (@stripesandwhimsy) and that you watch my Stories!

blue and white front porch blue door and blue pot with boxwood southern porch with hanging ferns white front porch swing

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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  1. July 1, 2020 / 2:14 pm

    Oh my gosh, Katie, this looks incredible!! So summery and dreamy. I just love the blue bistro set and the ferns. (Also, I’m still in shock the owner would even considering tearing this charming house down someday, ugh!)

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:44 am

      Thank you Heather! And yep, it’s such a bummer that they’re planning on it. It’s so charming! Certainly needs a good renovation but I hope they’ll keep some of the charming Craftsman bones!

  2. Brittany
    July 1, 2020 / 2:31 pm

    Wow it looks amazing!!! Such great curb appeal 🙂

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:43 am

      Thanks Brittany! I’m so happy with it now!

  3. Suzanne
    July 1, 2020 / 2:42 pm

    Stunning transformation! No need for a “welcome mat” as the porch does that for you. Looks like many memories will be made here.

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:43 am

      Thank you so much, Suzanne!

  4. Kat
    July 1, 2020 / 2:48 pm

    Really really good! It’s amazing what a bit of elbow grease and a few purchases can do to a place!

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:43 am

      Thank you, Kat! Yes, never underestimate what a little elbow grease can accomplish!

  5. Jenna
    July 1, 2020 / 3:00 pm

    This looks so inviting and the perfect place to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine!

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:42 am

      Thanks Jenna! If only my kids allowed that more frequently lol. We’re really enjoying this space!

  6. Allison
    July 1, 2020 / 3:08 pm

    This looks incredible!! Your landlord struck gold having y’all as tenants because you’ve made it (and will continue to make it) look amazing!!

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:42 am

      Thank you so much, Allison!

  7. Leu2500
    July 2, 2020 / 2:51 am

    Wow! What a transformation!

    Another way to adjust the height of hanging baskets is to use the “hooks” (I don’t know what the actual name is) that you can buy from Wild Birds, etc to adjust the height of feeders.

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:41 am

      Thank you! I had no clue what you were talking about and then saw them at Ace Hardware on the 4th of July! I can see that those would be a really useful way to lower baskets. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Kristin
    July 2, 2020 / 4:30 am

    Hi Katie! Your porch transformation looks phenomenal – and I am so impressed by your effort as it takes a lot for me to do these sort of things in the home I own haha. The mat is my personal fave, it’s gorgeous. I also think the pictures you took came out really beautiful – I’ve been meaning to ask for a few posts now (because all your pics look good) – are you still using the DSLR you bought a few years ago? And using Lightroom for editing? I have a very old one (like a T2 or something) that doesn’t give guidelines for manual settings. Thinking I need to upgrade but I am not a photography pro by any means. I remember you saying something similar but the camera made it easier. Thanks in advance!

    • July 7, 2020 / 5:41 am

      Hi Kristin, thank you so much! Yep I’m still using my DSLR (the Canon Rebel T5 I bought in 2015) and editing in lightroom. I’m far from a pro but by messing around with this camera a bit I’ve managed to figure out how to adjust it pretty well and know what works for us. Definitely need to take a photography class (and I wish Tom would take one too, haha) but I’ve been really happy! Hope that helps!

  9. Rag Top Daze
    June 23, 2024 / 7:19 pm

    I’m kind of late to the game here, but I love your porch!!! I’m wondering what paints you used on your front door, the threshold and porch ceiling? If you get morning sun, has the door faded after 4 years? I’ve been searching for a paint product and color that won’t fade on my morning sun covered porch like yours, only mine is in NH. Thanks for any help you can give me on this

    • June 24, 2024 / 3:47 pm

      Thank you for the compliment! That house was actually a rental and we lived there for two years and have been in a different home for the past two years. We did not do any of the painting at this house so I’m not sure what the color is. We did just recently paint our front door and used Benjamin Moore Regal Exterior paint in semi-gloss and we’ve been really happy with the quality of it.

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