Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Friend Dustin van Fleet IS ..... A Porch Lover

Even though it's just barely summer, the summer solstice and this year's June full "Super Moon" were just days ago, the long, hot summer is starting to settle
 in in the deep South. In other words, 
 it's just plain D@#M HOT!

 SO that means it's time for lots of 
taking it easy,
 resting a spell,
 putting your feet up . . .

That means it's time for porch sitting.

I LOVE a porch!

My front porch
The plants are an instant pow,
but you can see I need paint on the floor

 and stain on my front door!
It's always somethin' on an old house!

I had neglected my own porch over the last couple of summers, 
but I was starting to get the bug,
 to get inspired,

I always love green,
 and I love it here mixed with the bold, graphic black and white.
I probably won't go quite this graphic for my porch though.

My sister Susan and I are thinking PINK for accents on the porch.
Read more about OUR early escapades with PINK HERE

I am definitely going to use some outdoor drapery on the North side of my porch.

I am using some wicker, but not quite this much.
I don't remember if this was on page 92 or from 1992, but
it does seem classic, but dated to me.
The columns and the feel of this do remind me of my porch though.
It wraps around three sides of my house.

 and I was getting ready to have an outdoor lawn party, 

SOOOOOO . . . 

While my sister was in town recently, we started doing a spruce up job, 
moving furniture around, 
I moved an antique wicker sofa from my office 
out to the South side of the porch.

 painting, new fabrics and cushions,

I am using a graphic black and white pattern with pink and green accents.
This is Trissino from Designer's Guild.

 adding just the right small touches, and of course plants and flowers. 

I love the cool of these mixed caladiums.
I have already added these.

And I added lots of potted palms for that old Southern feel.

And the first pop of pink with geraniums

 We aren't quite through yet, but I have taken some before photos, and plan to do a post, when we finally reach the AFTER.

Kind of midway in, Susan has already repainted the Adirondack chairs
 my Uncle Raymond made for me.
I sat here on the North side of my porch with my peach infused  tea and cheese straws,
smelling the scented geranium, while Dustin and I had our virtual porch chat.
I can't wait for the new cushions!

Anyway, one morning a few weeks ago, I took my peach infused ice tea and my Mississippi cheese straws and went to sit on my progressing porch while I planned and started my day, as I often do.

My favorite tennis player of all-time
 Tommy Haas was playing in the quarterfinals of the French Open.

I rarely if ever post food pictures, but for some reason that morning I did. I posted a picture of my iced tea and cheese straws to Facebook, 

The recipe for my peach infused tea and
 more info on my cheese straws is coming in a post soon.

and, how could I resist, a picture of 
Tommy Haas.

Tommy Haas
OK, He is my favorite (no offense Dustin), always will be,
AND at 35, he is having a great year!

Soon I had a good little 
virtual porch (Facebook) conversation going with Dustin Van Fleet. We talked tennis and we talked porches.

Dustin is a fellow southerner, former professional tennis player and model,
 baker extraordinaire, designer, and restorer of old homes, which of course almost always include a porch here in the South.

Dapper, handsome, creative, and talented
The King of Color
(More about this moniker in the next Dustin post)
Dustin Van Fleet

Dustin and I met via Facebook and 
this blog a few years ago when I wrote about his friend designer Barry Dixon HERE.

Dustin Van Fleet, Gloria deLourdis Blaylock, and Barry Dixon
All Birds of My Feather

Our first virtual porch visit was all about tennis and Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy
in Bradenton, Florida.
Dustin trained and played 
tennis there for years.
The Academy is now owned by IMG and trains athletes in all sports.
My youngest son was there for soccer.

Dustin's perfect serve form

And backhand

Dustin and I just seem to have a natural affinity for each other and
 have continued our 
virtual porch visits on Facebook, 
discussing just about any 
and everything under the sun.

Of course a major topic of interest is
 Dustin's preservation, renovation 
and design work 
where lots of porches are involved.

Dustin LOVES a porch, sitting and 
"swinging away" on a porch 
while visiting with friends.
It's one of life's most simple and
 finest pleasures.

But Dustin doesn't just love taking it easy on a porch or talking about porches, he is down right passionate about porches and the old and historic
 homes he renovates.  

Dustin started restoring old homes while he was in his twenties as a hobby and a pastime while he was in graduate school.
He soon realized that this hobby was actually his passion, his bliss, his raison d'etre, and five years ago he started his company
 Van der Fleet Design.

The Parrish House, ca 1912
Dustin's own porch in Adel, Georgia

Dustin must ALWAYS have a swing on any front porch he designs.
I think I am going to need two on mine.

One of the places Dustin ROCKS
His front porch

All of the homes that Dustin works on speak to him, tell a story, really cry out 
for what they need. 

"All of these historic homes I work on tell a story or speak to me.  It may sound strange, but each piece or home speaks to me and guides me as to what they would like to become or look like," Dustin shared with me.

He doesn't look at an older home, or for that matter an antique car or piece of furniture, or an accessory, which he also lovingly restores, and see damage, or scars, or dents, or nicks, he sees the beauty in vintage American craftsmanship, the quality of materials that cannot be duplicated today,  and the story of a life well lived.  He sees the promise of restoration,  the opportunity of giving the home or object a new lease on life, starting again even better than before.   

Dustin's renovations are meticulous.
He studies.  He is precise.
He signs the backs of all the boards he uses and many times even leaves detailed 
instructions about his renovations closed away behind a mantle or hidden in a wall, so that perhaps in 100 more years, the next renovator will know the story that Dustin has put together about the house, clues on how to proceed with the next renovation.  

Dustin's passion for his pursuit cannot be contained, "I love knowing that I've saved something that is already 100 plus years old.
After I am long gone, people will know Dustin Van Fleet worked on and saved this historic home.  It is a sense of leaving behind a legacy that cannot ever be taken away.  This gives me tremendous satisfaction.  "

One of Dustin's early renovation projects, which of course had a porch, was the Nash house in Michigan.

"The Pink House"
A Queen Anne, ca 1890, Flint, Michigan
The Charles W. Nash House, founder of Nash Motor Company
The original headquarters of General Motors is just across the street
Dustin and I talked of "The Pink House" in one of our first virtual porch chats

He has prettied plenty of porches since then, and insists on two things when designing a porch, COLOR and detailed woodwork.  
The style and architecture of the home, and of course whether the home is historic, the feel of the neighborhood, and the style of the homeowner also come into play in the choices he makes.  

The award winning E. M. Rogers House

He believes, as I do, that since the front porch is the first thing someone sees on a house, it is absolutely critical to a 
good first impression.      

Dustin wants the porch to be a jawdropper, so he often specifies vivid and unexpected color palettes on his historic front porches, almost always using a minimum of four colors, and sometimes up to ten on Victorian "Painted Lady" projects.

The Tyson/Stedham House, ca 1912
Adel, Georgia

Dustin advises that if you are renovating your porch and it doesn't have detailed woodwork, simply visit Home Depot or Lowe's and pick up a few corner brackets and trim work, and of course 

some COLORFUL paint.

More, much, much, more
about the very COLORFUL
Dustin Van Fleet 
to come . . .

He's not just lolling on his porch, 
he is either hard at work or

gallivanting off to some exciting 
event or spot!

Newell Turner and Dustin Van Fleet
at the East Hampton Antique Show

If you just can't wait on me, 
See more Dustin Van Fleet
 on Facebook at Distinctly Dustin
in the meantime.

House and Porch by Dustin
Tampa, FL

Join me on my porch and let's chat . . .
What are you doing with 
your porch this summer?

photo credits: Dustin Van Fleet, Marilyn Trainor Storey, Pinterest


  1. Love this post and love Dustin! A fabulous summer read. Thank you Marilyn. Made my day. Now? headed to the porch!

  2. I love your new porch ideas! The black and white combination is always a classic.
    xo, Lissy

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