It is true that I did not completely lead with my practical mind when I bought Ruth (my house). I'm a romantic about houses, and of course that's dangerous to one's sanity and bank account.
One of her many charms is that she has a screen porch. Screen porch! For Midwesterners, this is a short form of saying "my house allows me to be outside in the summer without being eaten alive by mosquitoes." Also, "my house has a room that becomes a walk-in refrigerator/freezer just in time for the holidays, and thank goodness, because there's no room to put Aunt Lydia's cranberry jello salad in the fridge."
That's where the practical side ends. Screen porches on old houses should also be like a misty, out-of-focus photo from a back issue of Victoria Magazine. They should have vases of fresh flowers, and white wicker, and ladies with dark hair (that would be me) reading Edith Wharton while sipping lemonade from vintage glassware.
But I have described my screen porch's quality and construction before, thusly: two guys got drunk on a couple of cases of Natty Light and decided to build a screen porch out of whatever shit they could find laying around.
About as far from Edith Wharton and fresh flowers as you can get. Add to this a smelly fungal sponge of an old carpet, and sickly shades of "old bruise" mauve and dirty pink beige paints, and it was pretty depressing. And frequently in the beginning used to store stuff during ongoing home-improvement issues elsewhere.
I am not proud.
I would also like to mention, for posterity, the clusters of fake plastic ivy the previous owners hung up there to make it festive.
Over the last five years, I was basically putting lipstick on the pig by painting out the murky purple with leftover paint from other projects, and telling myself that keeping it clean and tidy out there was enough.
But I saw rot on the exterior siding of the porch and knew it was just a matter of time before I was going to have to get serious about it. Then along came the new dude in my life, and one day this summer Tom took a crowbar to the outside of it.
It was just as bad as I thought, and worse. And it ended up being what we (and by we I mostly mean he, because he totally wore the superhero cape on this one) worked on for the better part of our summer weekends.
I'll be back with a progress/part two post soon!