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A Private Place in Open Space

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After Katrina, a porch was revived to become the preferred place to absorb lifeKay Morrison’s favorite place to unwind, relax, chat, putter and play is her front porch. It was built to be an extension of living space. A spot where one can breathe fresh air on a pleasant day, watch children and dogs frolic outside and take in the passing parade of people and cars.

Located on the second-floor landing of a classic raised bungalow, the porch had at some point become an afterthought. But it came back to life post-Katrina when the area had no street lights. Kay and her husband convinced a contractor to string lights from an outlet on the porch to the live oak in front of their house and as far as possible tree to tree on the neutral ground. Paper lanterns were put to use covering bare light bulbs, and suddenly the street became an appealing place to gather. Neighbors came together, and people set up grills and sat out on their porches late into the night talking and enjoying the evening air.

While, today, many have reverted to flat-screen TVs and climate-controlled environs, the Morrisons hold forth on a porch. Kay hired Evelyn Hoffman, a feng shui expert to the help bring the best possible “chi” to the home. “After Katrina, I wanted to sweep out any bad energy,” said Kay. Doors salvaged from a Lake Vista house were hung vertically to create artistic backdrops for plants and rocking chairs, sound barriers and privacy screens. A small fountain was placed on the right of the front door to promote love and harmony; later, a large fountain was installed on the side of the Morrison’s lawn at the front of the house.

The tables, chairs, pillows, printed bamboo rug and wrought-iron lamp, which create a vintage look, were collected at Pier One, Home Depot and World Market. A large plant stand, a child’s chair, which belonged to her brother, and a pair of 1940’s ceiling fans are the only pieces with “age,” yet the effect is old-world, pre-WWII charm.

By day, Kay, who two years ago opened the Occasional Wife, has been known to hold meetings, answer e-mail, tend to her plants and read to her children from a quiet spot on the porch. “It’s so relaxing, so peaceful. It’s my favorite place to collect my thoughts, clear away the clutter and come up with creative ideas.” At night, the porch is a beacon of light. And, yes, the paper lanterns still hang across the porch and in the trees … and depending on the season, the color of the lanterns change. At present it’s spring, so crisp, clean white seems so right.