Finally took the photos and videos for this post and I can’t wait to share it because it changed our house in such a major way. Introducing… the area that we affectionately call our kitchen porch. Aka: the grillin’ spot with all the greenery.
If you followed along on Instagram Stories for the last few months, essentially this side porch always existed, but after we closed off doors number 7 and 8 from our bedroom which led out here (yes our bedroom had 8 exterior doors & still has 6 of them – more on that here), it was just a floating porch without any door leading to it. Here’s an old photo to show you what we essentially were starting with (this is after the exterior stairs came down from the upper deck, but before we painted the house, got new railings, etc, etc).
See that window on the porch in the photo above? That looks into the kitchen. And the double doors you see on the left side of the porch in the picture above are the old bedroom doors we terminated so we had the best spot for our bed & gained a nice big closet.
And here it is now. I can’t tell you how much more functional it makes things for our family. We can step outside and grill just a few steps from our kitchen (literally, the grill is maybe 5 steps from the kitchen counter inside) and we have a parking spot out here that we like to use because it’s closer to the house (so bringing in groceries just got a lot faster & easier, because we can bring them directly into the kitchen via a much shorter route).
We also have a nice safe fenced side yard over here, which we were excited about for Burger to get to enjoy. Now that he’s gone, that part of this setup hurts our hearts a little because he didn’t get to use it for very long, but he liked it a lot while he was here, and we think it’ll be handy when we have another dog (Burger is absolutely irreplaceable, but we’d love to rescue another dog and give them a loving home when we’re ready).
If you fast forward a little from the dark brown before shot (two photos up) and pause before going all the way to the after above, you’d be at this phase:
The photo above is after we terminated the doors from the bedroom side (we drywalled right over them and frosted the glass so it didn’t look too bad from the outside – but we knew it was only a temporary solution). We also painted the deck out here with porch & floor paint just to clean things up a little, but jumped at the chance to add the same Trex as the rest of the house during this phase of the update. We have Havana Gold trex upstairs on the deck up there and on the front porch as well as the side steps right near this deck that lead to the firepit, so finally getting the door permanently patched from the outside and redoing the decking with matching trex along with adding that door to access this porch right from the kitchen made it such an upgrade.
If we had a magic wand we’d have made this deck a wee bit wider, but we’re right up against a lot’s setback so we have to embrace what we have, and all that means is that when we use the table we scoot it out a little for more sitting/eating space (the picture below was us taking this porch on its maiden we’re-eating-out-here voyage). See how the table is scooted out a bit more from the placement in the photo above? Also look how happy Burger was about the new kitchen porch. I’ll wait while you zoom in. That, my friends, is a real smile.
If you toggle back and forth between the photo above of us eating and the one below, you can see that when the table isn’t in use we just tuck it closer to the house. Also we hadn’t added the tin roofing yet in the photo above, but more on that in a second.
That Big Daddy Fig on the right in the photo below looks like he might graze our grocery bags, but we’ve both run through here with our arms loaded with like 7 bags (isn’t everyone’s toxic trait trying to carry all the grocery bags in one trip?) and not one time did that fig get in our personal space. We have a little video walk-about for you guys later in the post that’ll help you get more of a feel for what it’s like to walk around this side yard. So… get excited. Actually John made some interesting editing choices. So there’s that to look forward to.
The other upgrade we added to this area was a watertight metal ceiling over our heads. The upper deck is actually above this porch, and rain came right through those deck boards and onto this space before – but not anymore (we hired the same pro who added the door for us and waterproofed the siding where our bedroom door was to add this tin, and it was money very well spent).
Now we can grill and eat out here, rain or shine. When our friends come over with their kids, our group can easily balloon from 4 to 8 or even 10 – and thanks to our indoor table seating 7 in a pinch (3 fit on each long side and someone can pull up a chair on the end) and now adding this outdoor table that seats 4 more, we officially have seating for 11! Which we have tried out already (so far we adults like claiming the outdoor table by the grill while the inside one becomes one big kids table).
Speaking of the grill… one of our friends raved for so long about this grill that we had to buy one ourselves. Their glowing review, coupled with the online ratings for it and the fact that there is a little peekaboo window in the lid that allows you to see how everything is doing while you cook without opening it… well, we were sold. And so far we love it. We’ve made everything from burgers to chicken and even pizza on this thing. Delicious. Five stars. Would recommend.
Also, in all of the homes we’ve ever owned, including the beach house and duplex, we’ve never had a grill this close to the kitchen. Zero steps to go down! No walking around various rooms & patios carrying all the food and supplies! It is GREAT! We use it so much more this way. Feels extremely lucky to end up with this setup. Especially in a spot with nice enough year-round weather that we could grill outside 365 days a year.
The photo above is the new door we added that connects to our kitchen (the dishwasher is to my left as I stand here and take the photo) and look how close the grill is. Literally five steps. Maybe four if you’re John “LongLegs” Petersik. As you can see, I cannot get over this fact. I might meet you on the street and you’ll be like “I read your blog!” and I’ll be like “that’s so nice, did you hear that our grill is like five steps away from our kitchen?!”
If you look to the left beyond the kitchen deck you can see where we put the hanging tent we got the kids last year (you can read more about that here). They end up on that thing every time their friends come over or whenever we make s’mores (I’ve shared some videos of it swinging at night on Instagram Stories since it cracks me up that they always gravitate there like it’s magnetic).
If you pan a little more to the left, that’s where John hung his beloved paddleboard (it’s the same one he got years ago for Cape Charles, and it’s still going strong). They no longer sell exactly the same one, but this one is similar.
This is that little side area to the left of the kitchen porch when you step back and face it, and I want you guys to stare at those three trees behind the tent swing in this photo:
These are the same three trees! I know it’s a terrible photo (it’s actually a still shot from an old video I made in the rain) but isn’t it wild how much a fence can add to a formerly streetside zone? It gives us so many spaces to fully use (the fire pit area is on the other side of this fenced-in yard as well) and the weird floating parking space is now defined by the fence and landscaped, complete with crushed rock underneath it. It feels so much more legit, and oddly a lot bigger. Like each side of the fence feels like the size of the entire area before the fence went up. I have no idea why that happens, but my guess is that defined spaces can appear larger and more functional, versus amorphous ones without any visual boundaries.
Since we’re playing the Stare-At-Those-Trees game, look at the group of 3 big trees below. See how that one sort of elbows off to the left and swerves right again?
This is almost the same view now. I realized after I took this that I should have stepped about 5 more feet to the left to get exactly the same tree angle, but you get the gist. The space in the photo above just felt like… I don’t know… streetside nothingness…? And now it’s a legit fenced yard with stepping stones that lead to a parking spot, a fire pit area is off to the right, there’s a hanging swing to the left, and a brand spanking new kitchen porch at the other end of those stepping stones. And have I told you the grill is five steps from the kitchen?!
Behold, night time glowy deliciousness. I think this angle of the house wins most improved in my head. I mean look at her. She’s modern. She’s warm. She’s functional. She’s welcoming. She’s nestled in the trees.
Here she was before. In the words of Kevin McAllister: “Buzz, Your Girlfriend. Woof.” Don’t get me wrong, we both knew she was a STUNNER from the moment we laid eyes on this house, but it sat on the market for something like 265 days (in a location that’s under a five-minute walk to the Gulf of Mexico!). Might have been the fact that there wasn’t working plumbing and there were holes in the floor that also deterred people…
Why are we talking about anything other than these GLORIOUS FIDDLE LEAF FIGS THAT CAN LIVE OUTSIDE HERE?! I know, my mind is blown. We had one up on the deck for a full year and it was straight up happy-go-lucky about being outside. So we went all-in on a few more (I even planted one in the ground to see if it’ll grow up to be a huge tree someday- will keep you posted on how that goes).
Another best supporting character of this makeover: the string lights. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Get yourself some string lights. Put them on a timer so they go on for a few hours each evening. They’ll draw everyone out like a moth to a flame. Literally, it works every time.
Oh and check out that little metal plant hanging bracket we got! It’s so fun to add something green up there in the corner out of the way of heads that gather ’round the table. Right now I have a fern there, but I might try my hand at some intensely drapey flowering annuals next spring. How awesome with a waterfall of hot pink flowers look?!
Here’s the view if you step back a few squares on those stepping stones (they’re these $6 ones from Lowe’s) which lead to our parking spot behind the gate.
I feel like we need to circle back to this table while we’re praising things I love out here because it’s so affordable and adds such warmth to this entire seating area. I sprayed it with two coats of this clear matte sealer based on some recommendations in the reviews, and so far it has been a champion. Drinks have already been spilled and morning dew happens even with a metal roof overhead and it looks like new so far.
This is the view from the gate that leads to our parking spot (the gate is open here – that’s the greeny-gray post where it latches closed on the right side of this picture):
You can sort of see where the stepping stones lead to the gate (which leads to our favorite parking spot) from this shot. Although that big bossy fig is kind of obscuring it. The fence jogs forward towards our house (that’s where our parking spot is) and the gate is on that run of fencing when it jogs towards the house.
This shot is really about the fig in the foreground, but I sense that you might not want to talk about plants as much as I do, so I’ll draw your attention to the rattan table behind the grill. That, my friends, is a streetside trash find. There are literal treasures just abandoned on the curb here, and my neighbor laughs at me about once a week because she catches me dragging something like this home.
Here’s a better shot of it from overhead. I think it used to have a piece of glass along the top and it broke so someone tossed it but I love it just the way it is. It’s currently holding a big shell full of other shells (naturally) and a potted plant (again, naturally) – but it could just as easily hold a tray with plates and serving stuff to have near the grill whenever that need pops up.
Oh and it’s hard to tell from this angle, but the steps that lead down to the fire pit area from our bedroom come off the house at an angle – so they would never have lined up with the stairs we added to the kitchen porch (which also called for fewer steps). So instead of running the new kitchen steps end to end and having them smash into the bedroom steps very awkwardly, we made them nice & wide (4.5 feet) but left room for planting beds on either side of them. Because, PLANTS. Need I say more?
This picture is just in here just because look at that grill gleam. Me-ow. And my fig is absolutely working the lens.
I might never get over the fact that the view of this side of the house from the kitchen used to be this…
… and now there is a big full-glass door that lets us gaze at this whole scene. The second they started cutting the hole for the door we were like OMG THE VIEW!!!
I mean, look at all that lush green stuff that we get to glance over and see while loading the dishwasher or prepping a meal.
And at night when the lights are glowing… it’s pretty freaking magical.
In summary: I love plants, the grill is five steps from the kitchen, and WE LOVE THIS FREAKING PORCH SO MUCH. John wants to write a big meaty post about what happened on the kitchen side of things (we made a few new updates in there too when this door was going in) so stay tuned for that.
Also I want to add up all the exterior square footage that our house has in decks/patios/porches, because I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than our 1400 interior square footage! If you include the stone patio around the pool (along with the front porch, upper deck, and our new kitchen side porch) it definitely is I think! And we’re so grateful to have it because we spend so much time outside. It truly helps our house live a lot bigger. When in doubt, make a bunch of come-hither zones outside, and add string lights and figs. All the figs.
Ok, as promised, here is a video of the entire space so you can walk around with us. It transitions (a few times) from day to night because John took some liberties while editing to spice things up. I love a man who could have just added a fade-wipe between day footage and night footage but decided to do some day-to-night-to-day transitions that are timed to that foot-tapping beat.
Note: You can also watch this video on YouTube.
And if you want to see what this fenced-in outdoor area looks like from above, you can actually catch a good long peek at it towards the end of this video that we recently shot of our family room & upstairs deck. You see the fire pit area as well as the stepping stones leading to the gate and the kitchen porch (although it was before we got our grill):
Note: You can also watch this video on YouTube.
Ok, that’s the end. Happy Monday, and may you all find something to love as much as I love plants and hitting the same joke about 4-5 times in the same post. Goodnight and good luck.
P.S. If you’ve somehow missed our Annual Gift Guide (you might even be messaging me to request that we do one at this very moment) – we did it and shared it last week! Here’s the link!
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