The front porch column (literally)

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Kym Seabolt's porch repair

Sitting on the porch is very relaxing. Sitting on the porch watching other people work while I sip coffee is even more so. Every once in a while I say “good job babe” to prove I’m a team player.

Work

Regular readers may recall that I mentioned a while back that the wrap-around porch on this old house “needed some work.” By “some work” I mean a complete overhaul.

One corner of the porch floor was actively sinking. Some of the floorboards were loose. I am no engineer, but even I know this was probably not something we could ignore — no matter how much we might want to.

I did try. I kept a shrub I didn’t even like for the most part because it helped hide the problem. Eventually, however, both the bush and my denial had to be pulled away. The best way to describe how the porch looked at that point was “wonky.” That’s a technical term, obviously.

Part of the family

Our home is well over 100 years old and the porch is original. It is also the jewel of the structure. It wraps around the north and west sides of the house. A gently rounded curve at the turn. Seven graceful Corinthian columns anchor the porch roof.

We have spent over two decades living and playing on this porch. We have spent rainy days and overnights. It is no secret that BoyWonder likes to live like a hobo and sleep on a porch hammock many summer nights. The table has hosted lunches, board games, coloring books and laptops. The dogs and I have lazed away many summer afternoons stretched out on a vintage glider tucked into the deep shade of the porch.

All this to say that the porch is a lifestyle as much as a space. The porch is part of the family. The porch must be saved.

It is important to remember we are talking about untreated wood that has been exposed to midwestern weather including winter for over a century. Looked at in that light, the porch was holding up really well. Even as the joist began crumbling, the porch stayed strong.

In reality, however, this porch has seen things. Some terrible things. Winter and storms didn’t phase it. A teenager backing a truck into the corner did though. To be fair even when daylight was visible through one cracked column, the porch still stood strong and tall. We call that “character.” Our porch had gobs of character. Buckets of it really. There were also some zip ties. We are not proud.

Risk

Thus on a bright, sunny Saturday morning with the heat already creating a haze off the grass and every tiny gnat in the region meeting for some sort of rally in the shrubs, Mr. Wonderful and his dad met on the porch to plan their attack.

The plan seemed to be to gently lift the porch roof to relieve weight on the old column, slide said column out, and brace the roof until the floor joist repair could be made, replace the flooring where necessary, and slide a new column into place.

This should be easy peasy, right? For them maybe. I had big plans to chew through all my fingernails as I watched an entire corner of my house appear to float in thin air. Then again Mr. Wonderful is known for feats of daring such as moving an entire garage just because I asked him to. I waiver between nervous — and deeply impressed.

The whole situation went off without a hitch — for column number one. The joist was replaced. The floor was repaired. A shiny new column with both base and top details was slid carefully into place. I held my breath as the brace was removed and…success. Only six columns left to go.

Redecorating

The entire time they were dealing with the nuts and bolts of things — literally — I was mentally redecorating the porch. I was planning how to rearrange my porch furniture. I’m always steps ahead of where we are.

I am currently trying to figure out what I can do with the old columns, perusing Pinterest for over-the-top and deeply out of my league craft ideas. I can’t just throw them away. They are old, yes, but there is still some life left in them.

They are no longer structural, but they are charming as all get out. Perhaps the little goat barn needs some flair? I’m picturing a Tara-esque sweep of columns across the front. Buttercream and Gertie will look absolutely elegant against that backdrop.

So here we are facing another project in an endless cycle. My porch is much sturdier, but I am probably going to have to sell an organ to pay for it. On the bright side, I can convalesce on the porch.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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