If you look outside your front door, many of you will see something odd and peculiar that you may have never noticed before. Look closely, and you will see it: your porch.
What’s so special about a porch, you ask? Lots, actually, especially if you ask our guest today. Rachel Going is so fond of porches that she devoted a very entertaining blog to that big slab of concrete in front of your house, and she calls it, “A Romantic Porch.” And it’s a must-read for those of you who like to sit outside your home sometimes and observe life while you relax.
Rachel features other people’s porches in addition to her own, and her writings on these homes make you reflect on life in a very emotional way. It makes you realize how quickly life can pass you by, but when you sit on your porch, time can sometimes stand still. And when you’re relaxing in front of your home on a hot summer night, that’s a good thing.
Let’s please welcome Rachel Going to Decor Medley and find out all about her and her lovely website.
1. Hi Rachel, thank you for joining us today. Please take a moment to introduce yourself and tell everyone about your blog, “A Romantic Porch.”
Thank you so much for the delightful opportunity of this interview. My name is Rachel. I have been married to Philip, my best friend, long enough to know him really well and still be madly in love! Our sons are 19 and 17, and our daughter is 6.
My blog came about in a very unexpected way. In July of 2007, my niece, who has had a blog for several years, sent me an email telling me that she had created a blog for me. In October of that year I tried to figure out how to do a posting, and by January of 2008, it was up and running.
My blog is named, “A Romantic Porch” for two reasons. First is my online etsy boutique and my tiny retail spot (aptly named “A Romantic Porch”) in an antique mall on our local historic Main Street in which I sell reclaimed treasures and original decor and fashion designs. The second reason comes from my lifetime love of homes with porches. I wanted to find other “porch lovin’ bloggers” and feature one each month on my blog. I grew up in a home with a wrap around porch that overlooked a woods and creek below.
My husband and I purchased our home several years ago from the mayor of our town. He and his wife had lived here 35-40 years. This is where they raised their 5 children. The day of closing the mayor’s wife gave us a black and white photo taken in early 1900, showing several homes on our street. She said she had always wanted to restore the porch to our house the way it looked in the original photo. Since they never had that opportunity, she was passing the photo along to us, so we would have it to use when the time came. The black and white photo in my blog header is our home from that photo she gave us, and the dream continues for the day we will have our own “Romantic Porch” restored to its’ original grandeur.
2. Most people would agree that a home’s porch is everything you say it is (peaceful, comforting, etc), but those same people probably wouldn’t even think about it unless someone mentioned it to them. In your opinion, why do you think most homeowners neglect their porches so much?
Two main reasons for neglect stand out in my mind. The American culture and lifestyle is so busy and “jam packed” full of activities that pull us away from home and the hospitality of impromptu moments with family and friends. Many times we simply don’t have time to focus on our homes, let alone our porches.
Also, a tight budget and stretched financial obligations can lend themselves to emotional despair, depression and ultimate neglect of many areas especially our porches. It is easy to think that if we can’t afford to have things just the way we want them, then we don’t need to try. It is sort of an all or nothing mentality. We can easily sweep our porch and front steps. Then set out a bouquet of freshly picked flowers or tree branches, with a candle lit in a wide mouth canning jar. It will lift our spirits and give our porch an appearance of casual and soft charm. It is kind of like fixing your hair and putting a smile on your face.
We have been working on our home for several years, both inside and out. But when people drive down the street or come by for a visit, I want them to see a place that glows with warmth and love and caring no matter the stages of repair or personal crisis.
3. In this day of home builders maximizing land space, porches have unfortunately gone by the wayside, especially in highly populated big cities. What do you feel families who buy homes without porches are missing out on?
I know that not everyone enjoys a home with a porch. In large part, this may be a matter of personal taste, however if our family had no porch, I would feel that our home lacked a place to transition from the comforts of home to the world beyond. I feel that sitting on a porch or walking across it to leave is the way a home gives a hug. A porch is just a tiny glimpse to the comforts of home beyond the front or back door and a unique way of saying, “Welcome family and friends, we are prepared for you. Please come again soon. We enjoyed having you!”
4. What attracted me most to your blog was that it was much different than a typical decorating blog. Rather than feature your own work, you take an observational tone and write about things you see everywhere you go.
You are a creative person, but is it safe to say you enjoy observing life as much as you enjoy participating in it?
You said it very well. Just like any other person you may talk to, I have had life circumstances that have caused intense pain and loss, but I also experience deep happiness and abundant blessings. I always desire that my life situations, whether good or bad, will not rob me of the joy and energy and creativity that is to be gained from each moment.
Though I am very busy, I still enjoy analyzing the things I see around me and ponder the experiences I am facing. I do not desire to grow old and yet remain immature. As I grow older, I want to gain wisdom and creativity and joy and spread that to others. I feel I gain knowledge in quietness and observation.
5. You made me an immediate fan when you blogged about two of my favorite animals: geese and chickens! What is it about nature’s beautiful animals (such as your pet ferret Ivory) that makes you want to take pictures of them and write about them on your blog?
I was raised on a small farm deep in the Boston Mountain Range of Northwest Arkansas. Animals were a way of life there. I am amazed with the intense personalities that are unique to each animal. My daddy was very skilled at training animals to do amazing things on command, so I suppose I see animals through those eyes.
Some of my earliest memories are of playing with tiny Rat Terrier puppies (shown on my blog sidebar), gathering eggs and feeling afraid of being pecked by the hens guarding their nest. All the while I was dodging the hisses of the geese who loved to chase me through the barnyard as a frightened little 3 year old! I wonder if they did it just to hear me squeal?
Though our only pet is Ivory our son’s white ferret, I still have an immense fascination with many animals.
6. Easter is near, and after that comes 4th of July. Porches offer terrific opportunities to flaunt our holiday decor to the whole neighborhood. What is your favorite season to decorate for, and what have been some of your favorite decorations that you’ve displayed in past holidays?
Well, I always have a wreath that reflects the current season on our front door. Potted flowers and candles in jars are my all time favorite porch decorations.
However our back porch where we spend many hours in the warm months is a haven for my decorating indulgences. I really enjoy cleaning it and getting it ready for spring and summer relaxing and entertaining. It brings me great joy to bring out the pillows and throws for the rocking chair and the candles for the tables and flower boxes. Spring is my favorite season for which to decorate the porch. This year, I would love to decorate more elaborately for July 4th. However I would say the season in which my porch reflects the most change is probably Autumn.
In August as the leaves on the trees begin to appear darker and exhausted from the intensity of the sun and September brings crisply cool mornings and evenings, the cheery pastels of my porch begin to seem somewhat out of place. The season of Autumn stirs emotions within me that causes me to reflect on the summer days past and happy times shared there with family and friends. By adding corn and pumpkins with sunflowers and more candles I do everything I can to bring a lingering sense of enjoyment to my porch during that time. It is my way of stalling the time when the harsh winds of winter will blow.
7. At their best, porches offer wonderful memories of late summer nights, endless conversations with friends, and lazy days sitting on the bench. What is your personal favorite memory that you or your family have had on your porch?
We entertain a lot and several years ago, a bunch of kids were draped all over the back porch while they took turns riding the go cart around the back yard. We’ve chased countless fireflies and made firefly lights in jars on the porch. We’ve played games where the porch is “base” and the person who is it” stands on the porch as they call out “Red Light/Green Light” or “Mother May I”. We’ve stood real still to see how close the hummingbirds would come. We’ve felt the wind whip our faces and the mist curl our hair as the thunder and lightening of Summer rainstorms rolled over.
We’ve had sack races from the back porch and laughed and wiggled our way through family snapshots and photo shoots. We’ve eaten many meals and snacks and had porch picnics. We’ve used the back porch for the “auditorium” as the kiddos have put on shows or shot off fire works. We’ve learned addition and subtraction and sung silly songs. We’ve shot paint ball markers and potato guns and laughed and cried and felt crushing despair and soaring faith all from our back porch.
As you can see, I have such wonderful memories, many many of them. It is hard to narrow down just one particular memory. However, above all, my best memories are of sitting with my husband and holding my children as I rocked them in the rocking chair.
8. Thanks again for your time, Rachel. For this last question, let’s talk about your other passion: fashion. What kind of clothes do you like to design, and do you have any plans to expand this hobby in the future?
I began cutting and sewing together scraps of fabric to make a “doll” when I was four. I remember sitting under the dining room table working on it as my mother cut out a garment on the surface above me. When I was seven, Mother let me begin to use the sewing machine. At that early age I was creating and sewing anything I could think of… more rag dolls from fabric scraps, purses from towels and sandals from vinyl… curtains for my bedroom from found pieces of lace and blue fabric underlay.
At the age of nine I made an overall jumper. I made the clothes I wore, Banquet/Prom dresses, wedding dresses, MY wedding dress, cheer leading uniforms for friends… with fabric anything is possible! Vintage linens, fabric, lace and textiles of all kinds delight me to no end!
From 2000 – 2005 I was the costume designer for a large Broadway style Christmas production that would perform 9 shows each season. I had the incredible opportunity to design and oversee the creation of literally hundreds of costumes and accessories. During that time I had a team of about 20 fabulous seamstresses who would sew anything I created! It was wonderful to work with such talented people.
I have also had the opportunity to work with extremely skilled contract seamstresses who were able to mass produce a couple of garments and meet an impossible (truly impossible) production deadline! I still design and sew costumes, though not to the extent as before.
Having said all of that, and now to answer your question, still my favorite style of clothing to design is for children when they are young and innocent and you can dress them anyway you choose. I enjoy this “age” of clothing because the sky is the limit to how you can dress your tiny little one. It’s like playing dress up with a real life doll. They are oblivious to the way they look and what their peers are wearing. All of their childish antics are so much more delightful when the are dressed so cute. I enjoy using wedding dresses or other lace and trim that may be a family heirloom and re-purposing it into a christening gown, or other item of clothing.
However, right now the fashion design that I do the most is restyling wedding dresses and other formal wear. Usually the bride or client will bring me a garment that is “almost perfect,” but ask if I could please make the changes to make it look another way. It is a challenging yet rewarding form of fashion design.
Along the lines of interior design, I do custom draperies and pillows and restyling of rooms.
I have always thought that I would expand my designs and creations to something beyond a hobby, when the time is right. Isn’t it interesting how life continues to happen in spite of our plans? I stay busy with formal wear re-design and custom design and sewing requests. My etsy boutique and tiny retail spot serve as a place to indulge my creative pursuits.
Life is full of seasons. I am challenged to make the most of each moment and not be wasteful with my time. I agree with the statement that I have heard which says, “When you are a mom, the days are long, but the years are short.” I constantly think of that as I try to live a life of intention and purpose.
Paints a beautiful picture, doesn’t it? The summer is here and the sun is out, so go do the right thing and plan a backyard BBQ, then follow it up with an all-nighter on your porch as you talk and laugh with friends into the wee hours.
We want to send our sincere thanks to Rachel Going and her delightful blog, “A Romantic Porch”. She really makes us appreciate what we have, even the things we don’t even realize we have. Please pay her blog a visit, and in the meantime, I’m going to go sit on my porch…