Thursday, April 25, 2013

O wise internet, help me in my time of confusion

You would prefer this were a plea for advice about when to have my hysterectomy, right?  Because you're all morbid like that.  But you couldn't seriously help me with a decision like that.  So you should be happy this is about runners, because maybe you actually can help. 

So in my mind, this post (or, a post around this time) was going to be about how the porch is finally finished, and IT IS AWESOME.  But that is not the case.  Because: (a) the porch isn't technically finished - I still have to caulk the cove molding at the bottom of the walls, and put in an exterior threshold; (b) the ideas in my mind for the finishing touches I was going to use to bring the whole thing together in a cohesive look did not work on the first try, and there is still essential zhuzhing work to do; and (c) I take such crappy cell phone pictures that you would think it ugly even if it were perfect. 

So, without further ado.  I mentioned that I bought a Mad Mat (in the eggplant and green color) in the runner size for the porch.  I was totally right that 30" was all the width the porch could handle.  I await your opinions (see below) on the eight-foot length.  Here is the Mad Mat in situ:

I waited until this morning, special, to take nice pictures for you to look at, lit by actual sunlight.  And I have this.  Is it possible that anyone could take a picture this blurry - even with a cell phone - and not notice?  Also, how did I fail to notice the wonky angle?  Anyway, that's the mat.  Here is no mat:

Here is the other direction (no mat):

You may notice that that exterior door is very blue.  It was like that when we bought the place.  And while I think you can't really tell in these pictures, the color I painted the walls on the porch is very yellow (and I am delighted with it, and the husband has agreed that this will be the exterior color for the house, which desperately needs repainting.  As soon as I get around to calling contractors).  I am planning to paint the two ladder-back chairs (which will sit on either side of that skinny dark table) very green.  The overall theme (as is beginning to dawn on you, I'm sure) is LOTS OF COLOR.  The rather nondescript hanging baskets at the end there are allegedly going to have these begonias:

(They're from Hirts, which sells through Amazon.  I was pleased with the promptness of shipping and the condition in which things arrived, but I was displeased that I paid $4.99 for two stargazer lily bulbs and saw five for $6.99 the next week at the big orange store.)  I already planted them, and I have watered a little.  This was my most theoretically intelligent selection, as they prefer shade, bloom all summer, and live through the winter if there's no frost (i.e., including indoors).  We shall see. 

Anyway, that would be more color.  Meanwhile, I decided to add something a bit exotic to the top of that long table:

I wanted it to go across the middle of the table (i.e., at right angles to where it is) and drape down.  But it was way too long.  It fits nicely lengthwise, but that's not how I wanted it to look.  Also, though I love that textile (it has elephants!), the gray and gold colors are quite restrained.  I don't think it works.  (It is already the third cloth I have put on that table, and obviously there will be more.) 

Moreover, that table is about to have a bench in front of it.  This bench:

And it will have cushions.  Possibly this Target cushion:

And maybe my homemade pillows:

And I built out that ledge on top of the lower walls to hold plant pots.  The matching blue pots (on the floor - surely you memorized every detail of the photos?) already have Stargazer lily bulbs planted.  But those pots (which I had on hand during the building process and could easily have used to measure) fit only half-on, half-off the ledge along the long window wall.  They could be knocked off by a stuff wind.  They sit fine on top of the ledge under the short windows, because it is deeper (do not ask - yes, the wood I used for both was the same), but that is not where I want to put them.  And yet it is where they will go.  Also badly planned: lilies bloom only once a summer.  The rest of the time they will just be dead.  I could have looked this up, but nooooooooo. 

Instead, I guess I will put basil and oregano (in smaller pots) on the long ledge at the end of the summer (before which they will be outside.  Starting as soon as it gets really warm).  And maybe next year, if I do not kill everything this year, I will put some orchids on the long ledge.  (They like tiny pots.) 

But this whole business of a bench and cushions and plants on the ledge raises the question of whether a runner in that space is even a good idea.   Recap:

The cluttering pots on the floor are not staying (or the paint can, either), but still.  Too much crowding?  Also, is the eight-foot length too short?  (I know there is no way you can tell from this picture.)  Should the runner reach further toward that little table and chairs?  Are the colors just too dark?  Or (my DH's thought) is it just an ugly runner?  I don't know why I had my heart set on a Mad Mat.  Here is a close-up:

See - long plastic fibers. I knew this when I bought it, but somehow I hoped that in person it would look...nicer. Just for kicks, I brought one of our (very soft, possibly part-silk) runners from the hallway to see how a real rug would look:

Obviously, this one is shorter. I don't like the idea of a real rug out here, because when we have people over in the summer, they'll need to walk right across there from outside to get to the powder room. I don't want to worry about the rug getting dirty. I also think a real (or even convincing fake) Oriental rug would make the room appear to take itself too seriously. I want to maintain that cheerful, elegant (??) but light-hearted balance of indoor and outdoor in here. (I know I am nowhere near the mark, but I have endless stubbornness and I will get there.)
I could go with a rug with an Oriental sensibility, but in a distinctly outdoor-rug material - albeit without the weird Mad Mat weaving:

This strikes me as having the right degree of formality (and it's 10' long, and a great price), but it has no color and it make me SAD. This has plenty of color:

And it's also 10' long and a great price.  And I think that orange (although the internet says it is "terra cotta," which is not the color I see in the photo) would be an excellent addition to the space.  However, it might clash with the floor.  More importantly, that thing is way too modern
And then there's the no-rug option: 

Which is starting to grow on me, for good reasons (cut down on the too-much-stuff feeling in a very narrow space) and bad (I put a lot of work into that floor and people should be unobstructed from staring at it.  Even though they will then inevitably notice the uneven varnish). 

In short, I am now totally bewildered.  I need your help.  Please select as appropriate, ideally with explanation:

(1) There should not be a rug in that space, especially with the bench. 
(2) Mad Mats are ugly and you should never use them and it detracts from the space. 
(3) Mad Mats are a great idea and I particularly like that one, but it doesn't go with the other things in your space, because it is the wrong [color/shape/pattern/other]. 
(4) Mad Mats are nice and one might look good there, but that particular one is simply hideous; specifically, ___________. 
(5) The biggest problem with that rug is that it is two feet too short.  Otherwise, fine. 
(6) A real (or real-looking) Oriental rug would look great in that space.  I would look for one in _____ [color/pattern]. 
(7) I like modern rugs and therefore you are going to politely ignore my comment. 
(8) Forget the rug.  What possessed you to photograph this space without removing the elephant thing first? 
(9) You know that scarf-cum-table-cloth thing (while the ideal size and shape for the tea table) is the exact shade of yellow to clash heinously with the walls, right?  I assume you had that on hand, too, and could have checked it with the paint color? 
(10) Nothing will fix that room with the ledge all uneven like that.  Prioritize! 
(11) That bench is really not going to work. 
(12) You should put shutters and a window box with that window. 


  1. I vote for no mat. The floors are beautiful, so why cover them? The rest of the room looks fantastic. If you're ever so inclined, when you're done your house (are we ever done with our houses???) you're more than welcome to head north and help me with mine!

  2. Hello. I've been reading for a long time but never commented. We just bought a house and your projects have been inspiring mine! I really like the mad mat but I think the problem is the runner on the table. You can have one or the other but not both. So since it sounds like you're iffy on the runner try taking a picture of it again without it. I think that could do it.

    1. And now, I will be following all of your projects. DON'T FORGET PICTURES.

  3. # 3 & # 12
    Like the mat, don't think the table runner does the mat justice.
    I think a window box would be awesome !!

  4. I vote 1. No rug. You worked so hard on those 'em off! Plus it's such a narrow space to contain too much stuff. Good work!

  5. I like it without the mat :) By the way- your porch looks beautiful and warm and inviting. You amaze me with your ability to figure out any problem you encounter and the sheer amount of work you do- impressive girl!

  6. With a bench by the table I think a runner/carpet would make it too crowded looking. Since the table is so pretty have you thought ofpulling the bench back against the opposite wall when not using it?

    Maybe a smaller, round or square rug near the round table by the door would add a little pop of color and tie the two spaces together.

    Funny you mentioned getting plants from Hirts. It's close (really close) to where we live and I was just there the other day looking for primrose and will probably stop by soon to get my peanut seeds and pepper plants.

    Awesome job with the room!

  7. I also have read here a long time but have never commented. I have loved watching your house come together and you have inspired me to take on some home projects on my in, no hubby involved! I do agree with Madeline...runner and rug are clashing somehow. I love the look of the Mad Mat, but not with the table runner. I don't know if the runner is too big or too busy. There's just something not quite right. Maybe a smaller (length and width) runner in addition to a solid color that accents the rug? Even without the Mad Mat the runner kind of looks like its engulfing that gorgeous table. Or maybe its just me...

  8. I’m thinking you should tell me your address… so I can come steal that table.

  9. I vote for no mat - much like JB, I love those floors, don't cover them :).

    On another note - I love that bench and the cushions!!!

  10. I agree with JB - no mat - the floors are awesome, don't cover them.

    On another note, I love that bench and the cushions!

  11. I like it without the mat personally ... but then I like wood floors :)

  12. #11 for me. I don't see the bench working in that space, as much as I adore where you're going with that idea... unless you had some other fabulous spot for either it or the table.

    Otherwise, I like the mat in there with just the table (or, perhaps, just the bench?) - and with only one of those things, I like it the 8' length, because it's long enough to serve its purpose, and short enough that you can still admire the floors. But, I am a fan of area rugs and runners, and this one is perfect for the space. Silk on a porch? Clearly you don't have 2 pitbulls.


  13. #1 No mat. I think it makes the space seem small and cluttered. Plus I love those wood floors.

    Like Amy, I wonder about maybe just the bench with no table? It's hard to tell, but I feel like if you put the bench and table near one another, it will get pretty tight. What if you just had a bench, then a small footstool/ottoman that you could tuck away when you're expecting lots of foot traffic through there (or just leave tucked away until you want to sit and put your feet up on the porch). Are you planning on using the table?