City Houses and Creative Spaces

A terrible photo of my front patio, from the front porch. Houston, Texas, August 18, 2013.

A terrible photo of my front patio, from the front porch. Houston, Texas, August 18, 2013.

For years after I moved into my house, which I bought partly because I loved its deep, facade-wide porches on the first and second floors, the postage-stamp yard had a crepe myrtle and a flowerless magnolia that had wide canopies consuming the entire space and killing the grass.

To reach the front door, you entered through a tall gate and threaded a short, narrow concrete path of tree branches.

Sick of the yard for ages, I finally arrived at the notion that I could change it. I removed the magnolia. I trimmed some of the lower branches on the crepe myrtle. On the larger portion of the yard, where the magnolia had stood, I placed rough paving stones and a couple flower-filled planters. I edged the porch and part of one fence in flowering bushes. Under the crepe myrtle, I installed jasmine and edged the area with rough rectangular stones.

On the porch, I added a couch and a couple end tables. On the paving stones, I placed a fire pit surrounded by four chairs.

The jasmine vines that completely covered my tall wrought-iron fence and gate remained, giving me privacy and serenity from the city street just beyond.


I had another space for my city house that rivaled my living room. Yes, even in hot, humid Houston. (You do realize that nine months of the year are nice here, right?)

Friends sit and chat at my fire pit. Regularly, I eat my meals on the porch on a tray table pulled up to the couch. I laze across the cushions and read. I watch lizards and geckos wait for buggy snacks and court females. My pup catches some sunlight.

My porch and patio combination have become little spaces of peace in a busy world. What took me so long?

In your home, what’s your haven space?