I’d love to spend an afternoon with you, swirling ice cubes in frosty glasses of fresh-squeezed lemonade. We’d talk and swing, feet tucked under our bottoms, in the cushioned glider on my wrap-around porch.
Meet me at the corner of idyllic and realistic. When you come through my garden gate, you’ll no doubt be greeted by hummingbirds and fragrant flowers. I’ll offer you iced tea or hot chocolate, your preference. But truth be told, my front porch has a pretty small footprint. There’s room here for a sprawling fern, double doors with beveled glass, and a shaded bench that provides visitors a quiet spot in which to daydream.
I bought the porch bench for a song, about two years ago. It was sun-bleached and scarred, as you can see, but far sturdier than it looked. It’s got good bones, I told myself. With a little bit of elbow grease, I’ll bet I can restore it to its former glory.
Thing is: I love the patina of timeworn furniture. I prefer a subtle glow to a high-gloss sheen. If I were asked to define my decorating style, the closest I’d come is coastal-garden-casual. Chic, but not pretentious. Storied, but not shabby. I’m a sucker for vintage pieces with character. If that also describes your design sensibilities, here’s a quick-and-easy way to refresh your front porch bench:
- Gather some soft cotton rags and protective gloves.
- Clean your bench, using a soft cloth and Murphy’s Oil Soap.
- Go about your business. Give your bench some drying time.
- Apply Restore-A-Finish, per the directions on the label.
- Rub Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner into the wood, wipe away any excess, and then polish to a soft sheen.
- Accessorize your newly restored bench with comfy pillows and cozy throws.
- Sit a spell, listening to the songbirds as you drink your morning coffee.
I love how my bench turned out! It really brightens up that corner, don’t you think?
On a related note, I came across a new book on Facebook: RESTORATION HOUSE, by Kennesha Buycks. I offered to review it, based on our shared interest in creating a warm, welcoming home–a sanctuary, if you will, for family members and guests. But since I wasn’t yet familiar with her blog, the religious overtones took me by surprise. Envisioning a beautiful house, Kennesha says, isn’t limited to furniture placement and choosing the right color palette. It’s a spiritual journey, as well, whose goal is a Christ-centered home that “gives life and connection to all who enter.”
In her introductory chapters, Kennesha describes the unmoored feelings that came of being the wife of a military professional. They moved from pillar to post, many times over, within the span of a few years. As the daughter of an interant preacher, I remember how painful it is, to be repeatedly uprooted. I remember the perpetual impermanence, and the emotional tug of that elusive place called home. Over time, Kennesha resolved those yearnings– first by anchoring herself to faith, and then creating a design aesthetic that mirrors her personality and religious leanings.
RESTORATION HOUSE is a highly personal book, tailored to a very specific (i.e., Christian) audience. Written in a casual, blogger’s style, it provides readers with fresh ideas for home renovations and remodeling. The photographs are beautiful, stylized representations of her preference for all things “simple and minimal, yet not too minimal, cozy and warm yet uncomplicated.” Pull up a chair, the images seem to say, Let’s break bread together, you and I, and bring to the table our dreams and aspirations.
Given the heavy emphasis on her spiritual journey (including verses from the New Testament, Bible stories, and prayers), I’d describe it as a devotional, more so than a how-to book about home interiors. That’s an observation, not a criticism. When asked, “If you could design a mug, what would it say?” Kennesha responded, “Do you, boo.” In writing RESTORATION HOUSE, she does just that.