Porch vent update & questions about decorating a porch

I’m back with another laundry room update.

Last week I showed you how I fixed my leaky roof & roof dryer vent that was causing my laundry room to flood.

Then I did a follow-up post showing how because of crappy duct work on the builder’s part, we are now forced to vent our dryer through the window.

The venting has worked great! The dryer runs for 15-20 minutes tops, and surprisingly the amount of lint in the filter in the dryer has gone way down as well.

We have had one little problem though:

It looks hideous from the street.

Unfortunately (and fortunately!) our neighborhood has a very strict Home Owner’s Association. Now, I’m not going to go ask them if I’m allowed to vent from my front window because I’m pretty sure the answer would be a resounding NO.
{Better to ask forgiveness than permission, am I right?}

I’ve been really nervous that someone would see this eye sore and point it out to the HOA, at which point we will receive a cease-and-desist order or be fined.

We are between a rock and a hard place.

We can’t vent it through the roof like it’s suppose to go, but we probably aren’t really allowed to vent it onto the porch either. {Because the HOA doesn’t like anything from the front yard that looks ugly}

In order to “hide” the vent a little more (to help keep the HOA at bay) I decided to paint the board white.

I started by taping everything off really well.

Then I just went to town with my favorite angled Purdy paint brush and a can of Semi-Gloss Sherwin Williams paint in “Alabaster” (we use this same paint for all our trim, baseboards, door, and moulding in the house).

Once the paint was dry I added a 2nd coat, then a 3rd coat. Finally it was all dry. I removed the tape to see the final result.

Not bad!

Okay, it’s still noticeable. I know. But it isn’t as blaringly noticeable as the wood colored board.

We are going to buy a tall plant pot and some type of pretty plant to help camouflage it even more.

I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination though so I have no idea what to buy. I need to go to a nursery and ask their opinion.

What type of plants should I get for the porch? I want to get several. I have a few requirements:

* Full shade, all the time
* Nothing that pollinates or it will be bee and wasp city over here!

Also, here are a few more details about what I’m looking for for the porch:

* I want a tallish type plant (tree?) next to the front door and also in the far left corner. Any recos?
* Do I need more furniture, or just some pretty pillows and an outdoor rug?

This front porch has been really hard for me to decorate! I thought it would be great to have a big front porch, but it’s really hard to figure out what to put out there! I’d love some tips.

Oh, and I’m planning on getting two pretty hook things to attach to the poles to hang baskets of hanging flowers from.

One more question: Should I put a long railing between the two stone pillars (in front of the furniture)? A lot of neighbors have a railing across their porch and I’m wondering if I should add one too?

Okay, sorry to derail with the porch makeover tangent.



Please give me some plant and porch decorating tips!

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  1. Georgie Vick says:

    Some big Boston ferns would look great. They would cover up a lot too.

  2. It feels more like a slab than a porch without a railing. Our farmhouse has an elevated porch that had no railing till a couple of years ago when we added one. BIG improvement. Nice of your neighbors to let you see what it will look like with the added railing:)
    How about a bench with a back & some nice cushions to hide the bottom of the window.

  3. I think you really need some color out there! 🙂 Even if you got a couple of pillows on your existing chairs and a little color on the table that would help. And then if you added some planters with all year as well as seasonal plants, that would look nice too. Any nursery will be able to tell you what will grow- actually we bought an arrangment at our local Home Depot that was colorful and had things that would grow here.
    I think if you did get the railing it would help disguise the window vent. But, I don’t think the vent looks bad! Maybe more in your HOA will want one like this 🙂

  4. I agree about the ferns! They look so lush when they are grouped! And they are hard to kill.

    Also, maybe a dumb idea, but why don’t you do the same board treatment to the other two windows (minus the vent, of course!) I actually kind of like the way it makes the first window look trimmed out, and it would definitely make it not stand out! Good luck!

  5. What if you could find some really nice looking fake plants to hide it? That way you wont have to worry about it dying and blowing your cover.

    Or maybe bulkier patio furniture?

  6. Totally go with a railing. I think it would make the porch way cozier.

  7. I think you should skip the railing. It would serve no purpose (your porch is flat so there’s no chance of anyone falling off), plus when you’re sitting out there, it would block your view. You may not have much of a view you want to look at (I dunno), but it would still beat staring straight into a railing. Plus I think it looks nice without it… more open and airy. Add some plants and decor out there and you would have a nice, inviting place to hang out.

  8. I love the idea of the railing, the hang baskets, and cushions… also, Crystal’s idea of doing the same treatment to the other windows, sounds nice… you could try with foam board and see if you like it. No fake plants, please…

  9. yes on the railing! I think that would look great!

    and I love Boston Ferns and they are great for shade. On sale here in GA for $7.50 at Lowe’s and Home Depot right now.

  10. just saw this on Pinterest! 🙂 a fun rug, plants, colorful pillows – perfect for your porch 🙂


    wish I had your big front porch! 🙂

  11. Yes to the railing – maybe wood slats or posts about 4″ wide, painted white…

    And like someone else mentioned – a bench with cushions could also help hide the window instead of the open chairs.

  12. Hey BFF! Love the redneck porch! Gotta keep it southern! Yee haw!

    Try moving the table/chairs over (or putting them on back porch, and get an iron or pretty wooden glider to go by the window. You could also just move the table down toward the door and hang a big big daybed swing. That would be my preference. Talk about a great place to take the laptop out and blog!

  13. What about adding wood to the bottom of the other windows so that they all look the same? I kind of like the window with the vent in it because it looks like trim and makes it look more substantial.

  14. I like the idea of having things offset a bit and so if your table and chairs are moved over in front of the window, and then some pretty pillows added to the seats and a cozy throw tossed over one chair back…a vase with some silk flowers (whatever normally would be in season) on the table and you’re in business! Would look really pretty like that. Oh, and some ferns in colorful pots : )

  15. I say NO RAILING. Sorry. You will loose space! We have a Large front porch like you do, Ours sits alittle higher. We had to tear out our railing because of wood rot. We LOVE IT. The porch looks so much more open, and I can see the kids playing in the culdesac when I am sitting out there. before the railing was at eye level.

    Anyway, To fix your issue. If you need low cost, I say get some big plants. Boston Ferns grow good if you water them ( Mine die, cause I always forget that part! lol) And they would look nice. if you have alittle more $$ to play with, Get some seating out there, Those chairs look alittle un-comfy! We have this Sectional from walmart http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sandhill-Outdoor-7-Piece-Sofa-Sectional-Set/6043776 on our porch! We love it! best $$ I ever spent on lawn furniture. if you dont want to spend that much, look on craigslist and see if you can find a loveseat and 2 chairs. You have the room, use it!

  16. Allison- I say yes on the railing. It would make the porch look more finished off. Have you thought about putting a boxwood shrub or two.in containers there? I have used them in containers and they look great. Good luck!

  17. Allison,

    Artificial plants are great if you buy the right kind. They don’t all look fake and tacky. I like the idea of repeating the same painted board on the other windows to ballance the look. This would give you time to find just the right plants to put on your porch through yard saling or sales at Hobby Lobby. I love real plants but due to where we are living and how my house is situated I don’t get the correct light for many plants. So we are doing a lot of artificial ones; the best part is they don’t die and you only have to dust them every so often.


  18. I like the idea of finishing the windows to make them all look the same. If you move the table & chairs in front of the window, God forbid, someone decides to dry a load. You’ll be sitting in front of blowing, moist heat. Depending on the weather, that could be good or bad (Texas summer with moist heat blowing on you = bad). I do like the outdoor sofa sectional from Walmart, but I think it would be better in a backyard (and same problem with moist heat blowing on you). And even though it would be new and beautiful and pillowed-up, a sofa on a porch just reminds me too much of …well…sofas on porches, and I don’t care for that visual.

    I think a railing would make it look finished (and hide little messes, like your chips & salsa bowl and margarita glass that you were to tired to haul in the night before). If you don’t add a railing, then perhaps some sort of taller plantings to at least hide the edge of the cement slab. Hanging planters with red geraniums (very easy and cheap) would be nice.

    And while I’m spending your moola, how about a hanging fan or two?

    Whatever you do, make sure it’s comfortable.

    Have fun!!

  19. What about something like a baker’s rack, garden work bench for deco in front of that one window?



  20. Another reader suggested putting the same wood treatment on the other windows, so the window with the vent would blend in. That was my first reaction as well. I think it would really work well (and I like the look too!). And, greetings from just south of Austin….near the Salt Lick. I enjoy reading your blog. It feels like I’m almost talking to a neighbor!

  21. I love the idea of a railing with hanging ferns! Something else I wondered, is to replace those low bushes in front of the porch slab with something taller – like a boxwood perhaps that would grow into a shapeable hedge. It would separate the porch from the yard, hide your vent from the street and give you a nice backdrop for other plantings in the beds.

  22. Tabitha ("Herbie" Hancock) says:

    When we bought our house my hubbie insisted on the porch railing. He even had it put into the contract. At the time I really didn’t think much of it, but it totally gives our house a way better, more finished look. I think a porch railing would look great on yours! I heart your blog! You are soo hilarious, and totally remind me of me and my girlie-friends. BTW, your dryer vent story has totally motivated me to give mine a good cleaning. I’m thinking about using the leaf blower idea. Ours vents right out the side where the laundry “closet” is. Thanks for sharing!

  23. If it were my house I’d do a railing. But in the mean time, colored cushions on that patio furniture and skoochy it over a bit, and problemo solved!
    I tried real plants on my porch and they all died. I ended up getting some fake-o’s at Michaels and they look darn good! I’d show you a picture, but I don’t have a blog. Let’s just say, they fooled my Mom who has the greenest thumb ever. Go fake. Do you really want one more living thing you have to be responsible for? 🙂

  24. I love @Christina’s pin. I think that would be perfect on your porch. I think you can go either way with the railing, both ways would look good.

  25. If you are just putting plants in front, you could put them on rollers and then move then out of the way on laundry day. You could move the plants forward and divert the hose to the side so it doesn’t go out to the street so everyone can see it. My vent goes on my porch and makes a huge mess. Sometimes I think of having the vent extended into my trellis. lol The vent is at least on the side of the porch and I live in a 50+ year old house so I don’t have to worry about HOA’s. 🙂

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