Sunday, July 3, 2022 Jul 3, 2022
97° F Dallas, TX

Southern-Style Summer Porches In An M-Street Bungalow

Actress and model Angie Bolling recreated the summer porches of her Southern childhood in this 30s-era, M-Street bungalow.
By Paige Phelps |
Bolling modeled her front porch on an old home in Alabama. This is where she likes to work on her quilting, and nap in the swinging chair.

[inline_image id=”1″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]Only in the Deep South will you find women named Mary Anne, Mary Jo, Mary Martha, and Martha Anne playing bridge at dusk on a screened porch. There, the slamming of the screen door means breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a bona fide bourbon emergency. On screened porches, there’s room for talking and rocking, thinking and sleeping. Screened porches mean respite from the heat, the bugs, and the noisy neighbors. A necessity because, in the South, summertime lingers much longer than any Yankee can handle. Alabama native Angie Bolling’s decision to add multiple screened porches to her 1930 Cape Cod-style home was as much about recreating a Southern ideal as it was about aesthetics.

The white clapboard house, with its green and white striped awnings and porches with worn floorboards, sits like an aging debutante, slightly out of place in the changing M-Street area neighborhood, where brick and stone custom homes are quickly overtaking most of the small Depression-era bungalows. She bought the house 13 years ago for a pittance. Its badly renovated fade had covered up the original Cape Cod cottage style, which reminded Bolling of one she’d lived in for a time, after her father, a one-time shortstop for the Red Sox, moved the family to Boston. The rooms were cozy and cabin-like, she remembers. But I always looked forward to traveling back to Mobile with my family every summer (1,600 miles by car) to visit my grandmother and experience her porch under the old shade trees, overlooking Mobile Bay, just off the Gulf of Mexico.

[inline_image id=”4″ align=”” crop=”full”]As soon as I saw (the house), I knew that I wanted to buy it and add a big wide front porch. The back porch came later as a creative afterthought, says Bolling, who shares the house with her college-bound daughter Olivia. They christened the place Shady Oaks Cottage. Inspired by a photo that Bolling found of an old home in Alabama, she screened the entire front porch and added vintage double doors purchased from an architectural salvage yard in Dallas. In the front yard, large ferns hang from baskets in the trees and ivy winds its way around small seating areas set with rusted antique metal lawn furniture. The look comes from years spent in New Orleans, where she found the romance and magic of the courtyards intoxicating.

Bolling, a 50-something model, actress, and artist, prefers to live in surroundings indicative of a simpler time; nothing in the house is high-tech or modern. She kept the old, naturally distressed wallpaper in the study. Flea market finds dot the walls, nooks, and crannies, and the peeling wicker furniture on the porches was handed down or found at flea markets. Bolling has a penchant for funny knickknacks that others might pass by; she’ll proudly show off a collection of 25 painted porcelain figurines, which adorn her garden, that she bought in Louisiana for a quarter each.

[inline_image id=”7″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]The porches may not be original to the house, but the floorboards have already taken on a distressed patina. The look is desirable, but it wasn’t in her original plan. A contractor, hired to build the porches, forgot to angle them for drainage and neglected to build eaves for protection. Standing water warped and peeled them in a wonderful, subtle way. Bolling later cut holes in the porch to help drainage and covered them with ornately carved and painted vents. She installed awnings to keep the rain off the porch, which add to the 30s era appeal and give it a welcoming beach house feel. I’ve enjoyed many rainstorms sitting on my front porch rocking in the wicker chairs or stretched out and napping on the porch swing, just like I did when I was a kid, she says in her luxurious Southern drawl.