Cead Mile Failte

The English major in me loves the concept of a front porch. The humble front porch serves as a threshold between one’s public and private lives: it mitigates the cold world outside and preserves the intimacy of a personal space. (English majors love fruitless discussions that pull together little bits of brilliance to coin a concept that gains absolutely no attention outside of academia. This is all that we do. I mean it. I’m serious.)

But the normal person in me loves front porches for the simple joy they are: a homey spot to sit and watch the world go by. I’m a real sucker for dark wicker and potato vines erupting from a set of planters. (On a side note, I’m slightly disturbed my the magazine-inspired trend of fashioning an interior room out of a front porch. I drove by a very “interior” looking front porch complete with curtains, framed pictures and (soon to be mildewed) cushioned furniture. It looks contrived and out-of-place. And I felt like a voyeur.)

Over time I have been improving our own front porch, and slowly it is becoming the place I envision: an understated space that serves our family, welcomes guests and looks great from the curb. And, tightwad that I am, my porch must come together on a budget. So steal some of my budget-friendly ideas to improve your front porch. You’re very welcome.


I made this address plaque entirely from craft materials that I bought at Michael’s with their weekly coupon. From the naked wood aisle (I call it that every time) I picked up an address plaque and some elegant looking numbers. I painted the plaque with a brick red acrylic paint and highlighted the routed edge with gold leaf paint. I painted the numbers with the same gold leaf paint and applied many layers of clear varnish to give them a metallic sheen. I wood-glued the numbers to the plaque and secured the entire plaque to the house with brass screws.


Flanking my front door are a pair of milk cans and a pair of big terra cotta pots, both found curbside. When I found the milkcans, they were very forgettable, painted a garish aluminum silo color. I spray-painted these with black spray paint and then dry brushed layers of hunter green acrylic paint, highlighting this with a bit of leaf green. I used ecru paint to highlight the raised dairy stamp on each can. The terra cotta pots hold seasonal bounty: flowers in spring and summer, fat pumpkins in fall, and pine boughs with mercury gazing balls in winter.


This beautiful brass plaque bears a traditional Irish welcome: “Cead Mile Failte” which means, “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes.” (Just so we all sound smart, it’s pronounced, “cade meela faultcha.”) Bought for just $1 at my favorite Catholic Church rummage sale, this plaque will grace every front door I ever own and then I’ll take it with me to the grave. I love it.

The only thing left is to convince my husband that wisteria climbing the front porch posts will be gorgeous and so worth the termite threat it poses to his house. It’s not going to happen.