A weekend getaway or the ramshackle shed-turned-guest-house in the backyard can become a fairytale cottage with some inventive porch trim. A small front porch with a roof overhang is all you need to get started. Add a jigsaw, a gingerbread pattern, a few gallons of white paint and some successful flea market sleuthing and Hansel and Gretel will be scrabbling at the trim. Even an amateur can tackle a basic trim addition -- and, if every cut of the saw isn't perfect, there's always that white paint to transform mistakes into vintage charm.
Things You'll Need
- Flexible metal tape measure
- Vintage trim brackets (1 or 2)
- Old turned wood columns
- Sheet of plywood or hardwood
- Jig saw
- Work table with clamps
- Safety goggles and mask
- Crackle glaze
- Gray exterior paint
- White exterior paint
- Drop cloth
- Hanging baskets of flowers
- Ladder (optional)
- Exterior wood glue
- Wood, hook-on planters
Gingerbread and Columns
Measure everything about the porch. When you are out hunting for porch trim treasures, you may need to know the height of the door, window and porch floor-to-gable at different points. Sketch the porch roughly and mark in the areas where you will add trim.
Search flea markets, second-hand shops and construction recycling depots for an interesting gingerbread bracket to use as the pattern for your own, low-cost, elaborate trim. Look for old-fashioned wood porch columns to replace plain lumber supports or add to a bare porch.
Measure the piece, or pieces of gingerbread trim you found, figure out how many more you will need to complete the porch trim. Trace the pattern of the gingerbread brackets on paper and cut it out to trace onto the plywood or hardwood. Hardwood will hold up well on the porch and won't need to be replaced as quickly as plywood, but it is more expensive.
Secure the pattern-marked wood to a work table with clamps, put on goggles and a sawdust face mask for safety, and cut out the gingerbread trim. Go slow and be careful, but don't worry about a few minor errors. The trim is supposed to look old and your mistakes will give it a distressed look in advance of installation. Cut the pieces into rectangles around the patterns, to make the task easier and quicker.
Install any old-fashioned porch columns you managed to find, replacing the old supports. If you have enough for the porch with one left over, have a lumberyard saw it lengthwise in half and attach one half to the wall of the porch at either end as decorative pilasters.
Sand the edges of the trim scrollwork and distress the pieces with a hammer and chains to add slight gouges, but be careful not to crack the wood. Install distressed trim along the eaves and edges of the porch, attaching trim to the top section of the columns and the underside of the eaves.
Paint the porch, columns, pilasters, eaves and gingerbread trim medium gray. Work on one section at a time, applying crackle glaze to some areas and painting over the whole section with white exterior paint when the crackle glaze begins to get tacky. The reaction of the glaze and paint will form age cracks that mimic an old paint finish. Sand edges of the trim lightly once it dries to reveal the gray paint beneath as worn edges on an old porch would.
Hang baskets of flowering plants between the columns as a final decorative touch.
Use leftover wood from a gingerbread trim project to make extra copies of trim sections for porch rail window boxes. Cut decorative gingerbread from plywood or hardwood sheets of lumber, distress the gingerbread sections and paint them to match the rest of the porch trim.
Paint wood window boxes designed to hang from a rail with medium gray or classic dark green exterior paint. Fit the painted, distressed trim pieces to the porch rail planters, cutting shorter sections for the ends. The gingerbread facing should cover the three sides of the planter that are visible when it is resting against the porch rail.
Glue the painted, distressed trim pieces to the porch rail planters with a strong, water-resistant, indoor-outdoor adhesive. A glimpse of the green or gray paint on the planters will show through the cutouts of the facing, highlighting its decorative pattern. Hook the planters over the porch rails and fill them with flowering annuals such as petunias or impatiens.
Tips & Warnings
- Use a manual coping saw if you don't have a jig saw. Drill holes in the wood just outside the pattern marks so you can insert the saw blade and cut more easily.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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