Porch Paradise

By Karin Fabry

“It’s definitely a multi-functional room,” Vanessa says. Whether the Baxleys are spending a quiet evening together with their 4-year-old daughter Blaine and their 30-pound cat Kody or entertaining 18 family members for the holidays, chances are you can find them on their back porch.

When the Baxleys purchased their home a year ago, the sunroom was already equipped with a wonderful façade. A worn brick floor and a wood beam ceiling lend a casual, yet elegant comfort to the space. Lance, a building contractor with Central State Enterprises, Inc., removed the vinyl windows and installed paned glass windows. He also completely remodeled the outdoor bathroom, giving it a sophisticated look. Now it was time to furnish and decorate their much-loved porch.

The majority of the Baxleys’ Ocala home is adorned with muted, earthy tones. Because of this, Vanessa decided to go colorful when accessorizing the sunroom.

“I saw this pale dill pickle color in a friend’s bathroom and just loved it,” she says. “I was able to borrow it and tried it out. The color really worked, so that’s what we went with as an accent color.”

Vanessa’s experiment paid off. The contrast between the bright white walls and ceiling with the green accents is stunning.

A naturally creative person, Vanessa enjoys refurbishing and reusing older pieces when creating a new room. She admits, though, that while she’s full of ideas and inspiration, she may need a little help in the execution department.

“I come up with these wonderful decorating ideas and my mom, Marie Tillis, is great at implementing those ideas,” she adds.

Marie was the talent behind the vibrant hand-sewn curtain valances and seat covers. As an added touch, the curtains are hung on a rusted piece of rebar rather than a store-bought curtain rod to add to the room’s shabby chic décor. Glancing around the couple’s sunroom, it’s easy to see that it was Vanessa’s eye for style and accessorizing that really added flair to the room.

The standout piece, according to Vanessa, is the distressed rectangular dining table she picked up at a local antique shop.

“I enjoy the shabby, distressed look,” Vanessa says. “You can’t ruin it. As a matter of fact, our daughter spilled glitter glue on it and I just sanded the glue right out. The way I see it, I just added to the aged look of the piece.”

Mismatched wooden dining chairs, each painted the dill pickle color, are situated around the table. A nearby miniature table and chair, also painted dill pickle, is perfect for Blaine’s artistic endeavors.

Another of Vanessa’s favorite elements in the room is the chipped turquoise desk she won in an online auction.

“When I saw the desk, I thought the color was really fun,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, but I think it fits perfectly.”

When most people think of a screen room or sunroom, they think of outdoor patio furniture and maybe a few potted plants. Vanessa, however, views her screen room as an extension of her living room. The space is filled with warm accessories including an oversized wall clock reminiscent of a centuries-old clock tower, a miniature green house, a beveled mirror, and a pair of French flower buckets, making it a truly livable space. A collection of decorating books that rest upon the desk is a testament to Vanessa’s love for interior design.

“If you’re going for the shabby chic look, just remember that not everything has to match. The variation in your accessories and furniture pieces is what’s going to create the visual interest,” she says. “I think you have to have fun with your decorating.”

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