As you know, I spent the summer renovating our cottage on a remote island. Sarah: “Here we go!” and now that I’m done, as a reward for following along you get the tour! Sarah: “hoowee!” Last time you saw the guest room the bathroom and the bunkie Sarah: “new and improved” This time get ready for the room formerly known as the porch.
I’m Sarah and every day my life revolves around design. This is my journal what’s happening right now in my world as a creator, an entrepreneur, a partner and a mom, and I’m sharing it with you! So let’s go! Today is another chapter in my Design Life.
In the grand scheme of life and more importantly in my Design Life I think you could say that I’m an optimist and I always believe that everything works out for the best. We started out just planning to replace some doors and windows Sarah: “So we have windows and doors that unfortunately have rotted” and with the simple agenda of taking a screened-in porch and turning it into an enclosed area, before we knew it this project had started to spiral completely out of control Kris: “every layer we peel off we find more bad stuff”.
The best part about that is it led us to where we are now we now we now have a cottage that has been tweaked and redesigned and redecorated and restyled and made to fit the family that we have now. We designed this cottage 11 years ago when our family dynamic was so different.
We had a little one and a little one on the way but now: we have a tween and a teen and we have had this incredible opportunity to think about how we want to make this cottage work for the whole next phase of our life and this porch is the game changer.
Now you may be looking at it saying “Sarah you’re not on a porch, you’re in a living room”. I know! We haven’t been able to figure out a better name for it. So we still call it the porch because on a beautiful day when the windows are all cranked open it still functions like a screen porch but the problem with the screen porch is if you don’t have doors and windows when the weather turns bad – as you know it does here on this island – well, you got a room you can use and now we have the ultimate room that we can use on the hottest days and also on the coldest days.
The windiest, the nastiest, the beginning, and the end of the season when it can be pretty chilly. As you may recall the first time I came for a site visit I was wearing a down jacket and a scarf Sarah: “I’m at the cottage wearing a down jacket!” Brr! let’s talk about this room let’s talk about what changed.
We started out with a flat roof and that roof was rotten. You know what that led us to. We had to reimagine the whole space. Nobody wants to have a rotten roof but the best part about having a rotten roof was it made us rethink what our priorities were.
Did we want to rebuild another flat roof? or did we want to have a roof with a pitch in it? We chose the latter and that’s what led us to where we are right now. Now let’s talk about that roof because Alex and I went away for a lovely jaunt over to England, met some very interesting people, to be filed under the category of major summer highlights, we were honoured to meet with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to support the excellent work he is doing through his charity: The Prince’s Trust.
And we came back and the cladding was done on the ceiling and it looked terrible and as much as I hate wasting materials, and it’s not the way I want to roll, we decided to take it down and start again.
So then we had to find new material and a new approach and in the end we did a whitewash stain on pine tongue-and-groove boards and yes I believe it is a hundred percent the right answer and the interesting thing about construction is when you’re in it in the room is only the part way there and halfway done it’s hard to imagine the decision you make on the ceiling is going to impact how the end overall room feels once you put the furniture in it.
But what’s so interesting for me now is to look at how that ceiling connects with the coffee table, with the wicker chairs, and the side tables, how it works with the fabrics, how everything comes together as though this was ever the only plan that was meant to be because in the end I think it really was meant to be.
Alexander: “Taking the porch from a flat roof to the pitched roof has been a game changer and Sarah was right about the windows” Sarah: “I feel like I spent 10 years trying to convince you to turn this into a room and I just heard you admit for the first time that it maybe got used 3 days a year” Alexander: “I’ve been resisting for years about glassing this in because I love the sound of the water you come out and have a nap or have lunch or dinner and this the sort of 360-degree sound was so amazing.
But with the windows you still get that you wind them all open and the best part is when it’s raining or windy, you don’t have to go inside you can just stay here and enjoy the fire now.” Sarah: “This was always a race to the finish line.
It was almost June by the time we found out we had no room to work with, and so, we still wanted to get it finished and we still wanted to be able to enjoy family time in a completed project and not spend our entire summer in a construction zone.
We spent a lot of it in the construction zone but we did manage to find some time to actually enjoy it as a family as well and that is what this journey is all about. But when it comes to sticking to a timeline sometimes I just want to get it done.
Are you like me? I get.. I get impatient and so Alex had an idea and he said I think we need to add “two windows to the order that would sit above the main big fixed picture glass window” and I resisted.
You know why I resisted? Because I thought it would delay us. In the end, we ordered the windows, Alex prevailed – he was completely right, and we managed to go ahead and finish the rest of the building and then pop them in at the end so my piece of advice to you is: don’t be impatient and overlook or choose not to do something that would make the room better, stop, pause, and really think about it when I asked myself whether it was a good idea or a bad idea? Once again the minister of exteriors had a good idea and it needed to happen Alexander: “Let’s talk about what stage is your last year what was the biggest surprise?” Tommy: “Well the biggest surprise was that a porch that was once screened in is now a fully built part of the interior of the house – it’s linked and that is such a surprise and it’s such a welcome extra destination within the house and for me for any cottage design that makes a ton of sense because everybody wants to be together at certain times but then there are times when somebody might want to have a nap on a chez in one room and you don’t want to bother them by playing a game.
So now you can go to the opposite end of the house and do that while somebody does nap on the chez. I think that is a massive improvement in terms of the use of house but it’s also incredibly beautiful space and in Sarah did a killer job on the fabric selections furnishings the textures.
..” Sarah: “let’s talk about the furniture in here. My goal was to make a room that would be the most relaxy, loungy, easy breezy, light and airy space. I wanted it to feel like a porch but be completely enclosed so that’s why I chose the materials I did.
The chairs are wicker they were really well priced and I think that they have that cottage character that I love. The side tables – the side tables are actually coffee tables, but I decided to use them as side tables because I like how low and big they are.
The sofa? Well it doesn’t get much easier than this. In stock. Comes with slipcovers. Affordable. Assemble it yourself. It gets delivered in boxes. It’s super comfortable and you can configure it however you want.
So let’s just say I’m super pleased with my seating choices in this room. I even got a very brief nap one day. I tested out the corner, you know the sweet spot of any sectional is that corner? and I got a magazine and next thing you knew I was *click*.
.. Until one of the kids found me and then I woke up. Alexander: “The biggest surprise for me is how big this room feels. The vaulted ceiling really took the space up because we had a fairly tight ceiling and all the glass really has made it feel almost twice as big and that’s really exciting – AND the colour of the paint has also helped to because it’s so bright.
” Tommy: “I mean it just has everything that you want.” Alexander: “She even painted my speakers white.” Tommy: “She even painted your speaker’s white which I mean as we both know if you stand still long enough around Sarah Richardson you’re gonna get painted white.
Alexander: “Now–” Tommy: “You– you probably left them lying around!” Sarah: “The coffee table is a winning touch for me in this room. I like a big table. I like being able to have a big stack of magazines, some plants, a bowl full of apples in case people get hungry as they always seem to be on in this island, and room to just spread out.
This table is thick, sturdy, rustic and really just hit all the right notes. Storage is always important and in this cottage we’ve never had enough storage, we don’t have lots and lots of closets. We have most of the bedrooms – in fact none of the bedrooms in this cottage have a closet and closets are where you get to stash stuff so having some storage built into this porch was a big priority for me and I combined storage in two different door front options so we’ve got the high-gloss blue cabinet fronts that create a low counter when you walk in into the entry area but also it as game storage.
It reinforces and punctuates the colour palette with this gorgeous, rich, deep, navy blue and then it’s accented with these round, antique brass knobs I decided to use the same knobs on our big full-height storage wall and these are in stock closets.
They are fabulous, they have so much storage, you can put drawers in them, hanging bars shelves, pull outs, you name it! I am delighted that we put these in. If you remember when I went shopping I couldn’t decide whether I should get the simple and white slab fronts should I do something more daring and in the end I decided that keeping them white was the way to go.
” Sarah: “Im gonna keep it simple” and they just disappear. They basically just melt into that back wall so that they’re not obtrusive in any way. I wanted the high-gloss blue for the punctuation, but then the white just recedes and it’s a quiet functional element.
Because then on that back wall what I really wanted to take center stage and be the focal point is the wood stove and what great advice we got from Jay, our installer, on the day that we were putting this wood stove in and he said ‘don’t put it too high because you don’t want to look at the top of the box inside’.
Genius. As we sit here at night watching this fire burn it is exactly at the perfect height so the one thing I want you to always remember is collaborate and work with the people that come to your job site and are trying to help you get the job done.
I chose the slab of marble with the kids and the fabricator and Giulio who owns the marble Supply Company and we all agreed that this was the right choice and to see it now in place – Oh! Yes! I’m so glad I dithered and thought about all the different choices.
When it comes to the big things, the things that aren’t easy to change, which I refer to as the fixed elements of any room, I want you to take the time and invest in making sure you’re gonna get it right because when you get it right it’s awesome and then you can live to enjoy it for years and years to come.
” Alexander: “Whats your favourite new thing?” Tommy: “My favourite new thing is the fireplace in the porch. Only because when we originally did the big renovation that was such a hit on HGTV we weren’t able to figure out a way to get a fireplace into the living room.
So the only thing the living room was ever missing was a fireplace. Now we have another living space, the porch, which does have a wood-burning fireplace and I think that’s kind of an amazing addition to the life and enjoyment of the house in general.
” Alexander: “My favorite part about this room frankly is the fireplace I’ve been dying to have a wood stove ever since this place went up, and we have a whole ton of indoor, i.e. I don’t have to go out in the driving rain and winds to get it.
.. wood pile so the indoor wood pile is also a big game changer.” Sarah: “Throughout the cottage I tried to choose fabrics that had a more contemporary and modern feel and this palette is a little bit more earthy and grounded than what’s in the rest of the cottage so we tend to have the lighter it’s softer blues these are really nice deep inky blues and then I’ve reinforced it both with the colour that’s drawn essentially from the floor and the wicker in the more natural tones and this floor, this vinyl floor, I know you might be tired of hearing me talk about vinyl floors but boy was this a good choice in here because we have two doors that run through the porch, we have a door on the east and a door on the west and all doors lead to water which means that we might be lugging garden supplies through here there might be people in wet bathing suits streaking through here.
The great thing about this vinyl floor is this is no muss, no fuss, no worries, no problem man. Alexander: “and the fact it’s low maintenance is incredible and sarah said you can now roll a wheelbarrow through that part of the house and not worry about wrecking the floor so it’s very very useful –” Sarah: “and we have rolled a wheelbarrow through!” Alexander: “and we have, we have.
” Sarah: “When you’re combining old and new there’s always decisions to be made. ‘What do we keep and what do we change?’ and we considered taking off the door, the original exterior door that led into the cottage, and I kept thinking ‘oh I don’t know if we want to do that.
..’ and what’s amazing now is that the porch feels completely connected with the rest of the cottage. Until that moment comes when you actually want it to feel separate and by maintaining that original door and just painting it white to match all the walls it now acts as a fabulous sound barrier so the kids can be out here and watch a movie with friends or play a really loud game and we can be in the other part of the cottage or vice versa! The kids can be in the main cottage and we can retreat out here and just enjoy a quiet little escape.
I think the biggest game changer in this space is that we build a screen porch hoping that we would use it but it faced northwest, it was always cold and breezy and not really conducive to hanging out in so it never got used and I predict that moving forward this space will go from being the least appreciated most underused part of the entire island to being the number one destination for all family, all friends, guests, visitors.
.. So far, everybody loves it and everybody gravitates here.