I used to have this recurring dream, back when we lived in a 500 square foot apartment (filled to the brim with snowboards, skis, skateboards, home canned jellies and relishes, home brewed beer, potted vegetable gardens, art and drafting supplies, a cat plus litter box, and a fish tank!). The dream was that I discovered some hidden room or extra space, it had been there the whole time but somehow I'd just never realized it was right under my nose.
That's pretty much how I feel about our new little 'play porch', it's like magic extra space that we discovered overnight. I always knew I wanted to use this porch as a play area, but the floors were covered in moldy AstroTurf with various layers of asphalt and waterproofing paper and I just imagined whatever was under there was unusable and we'd need to put in some kind of new flooring. The access door was also in Little Smith's original nursery, and when I was pregnant with him and feeling overwhelmed with the idea of getting it together before he was born, I sealed up the door so that it would be less drafty and put the project on hold.
Once we converted the nursery to an office last fall, I wasn't so paranoid about opening up the porch can of worms, and of course the second baby increased our need for space as well. I patiently waited for some reasonable weather to get going on this project and when I finally tore up everything that was nailed down to the floors, I was very pleasantly surprised that the original subfloor was in great condition and totally usable. We just sanded the floorboards lightly, filled some of the nail holes, and painted them with a high gloss exterior floor paint which instantly transformed the whole space.
We had a very tight budget and spent less than $250 for everything, start to finish. Much of the furniture is from Ikea, because that's what we had laying around for repurposing and what was affordable. The bench is a 'vintage' Ikea Lack shelving unit that we put on wheels (you can't see them in any of these pictures but trust me they are there, because we really do think everything is better with some wheels!). It was such a tight fit that we had to assemble it in place, stressful for a minute but it worked out perfectly.
Little Smith is completely in love with this space. He was so excited through the whole process and really helped quite a bit. It was his idea to get all the hanging cups under the windows for him to stash his various collections (acorns, pine cones, and pumpkin stems to name a few) and he has been out there bird watching or scooting / crashing into the bean bag every morning this week. Baby Roo is pretty much happy anywhere, but she certainly enjoys watching her big brother keep busy and I'm sure in no time she will be tearing this place apart. It just makes me smile every time I come out here, and we are looking forward to doing a few planting projects on the windowsills as well. After a long and dark winter, a bright and fresh space was just what we all needed. I can already feel that this is going to be a very good summer!