Saturday, May 10, 2014

Designer Challenge: The $200 Porch Makeover

I have a love/hate relationship with reality TV design programs. I love seeing all the great design ideas, but I hate all the drama between the contestants or the designer/homeowner.  All the bickering and yelling doesn’t happen in real life (at least in my experience), and watching them argue with each other just stresses me out. Several years ago I was on the HGTV show Designer’s Challenge. It was a great experience, and I loved working with everyone from the show, but it was one of the calmer/no yelling at fellow design contestants/no crying during your exit interview shows.

Since I don’t plan on participating in another design show any time soon, I decided to create my very own design challenge…minus all of the drama of reality TV.

The Challenge:  Turn my neglected side porch into a fun and inviting space for the entire family with a budget of $200

Most people think you can’t do very much in world of interior design for $200, but I wanted to be creative, use as many existing pieces as I could, and then hunt down some bargains. 

This porch has seen happier times.  Over the last three years we welcomed two new puppies into our family. Even though we bought every chew toy on the market, they preferred the wicker coffee table and chair cushions.  After the dogs had their way with the space, we started treating it as a storage unit for things we were too lazy to put in the proper place.  You may have noticed the Christmas tree stand in the corner.  It is now May.  I am not proud…please try and forget you saw this photograph.

The Transformation: How I designed this space for under $200
The wicker loveseat and chairs had some fading and a little damage, but nothing black Rustoleum spray paint couldn’t fix.  I found new seat cushions and pillows at an outlet store.  I kept the rug, but I turned it over to the opposite side…it is actually the wrong side, but I liked it better since it was lighter. 

I have three children, so I wanted to create an area on the porch just for them.  Bright green spray paint gave new life to their old chairs.  My daughters love to draw with sidewalk chalk, so I found the square table at Big Lots, left the ugly tile top that came with it at the store (the clerk said they could reuse it in another table with a damaged top,) and I found a piece of ceramic tile at Lowe’s that fit the table and acts as a blackboard. The girls can draw pictures, play tic-tac-toe, or write messages with chalk and then have their snack on the very same table.

Since my budget was so tiny, I had to shop in my garage.  This was not fun because my garage is a scary, messy place.  But there were some great and FREE pieces I could use.  I bought the yellow chairs and table for the breakfast room in my first house.  These chairs are the most uncomfortable chairs ever made, but I loved the color so I used them for a few years until I couldn’t stand to sit in them anymore.  For six years they have been sitting in my garage.  I know there will eventually be some damage to the finish (plus the carpenter bees have been snacking on them) but at least the table and chairs are being used, so I am okay with a little wear and tear.


I needed a coffee table since my last one had been turned into a doggy snack.  I love the look of galvanized metal, and I wanted a round table since the space is small.  I decided to use the galvanized metal drink tubs we have for parties.  I turned the tubs upside down, the smaller tub on the bottom, and then used an old planter in the middle to raise up the larger tub. Now I will no longer need to drag the tubs out of the garage for parties…I can just turn them over and have instant drink coolers on the porch. Plus there is the added bonus that this coffee table should be dog-proof.

I found the window frame with a metal screen at a salvage store.  I pinned one of my daughter’s abstract paintings inside the frame. I liked how the screen gives the appearance of a mat in a framed piece of art.  The kids liked the idea of changing out the art, and since our house is overflowing with their original creations we will have plenty from which to choose.

Finally, since I wanted the entire family to help out with this project, the kids and I planted some ivy in a black planter and inserted handmade paper flowers.  The kids made the flowers from coffee filters dyed with food coloring then cut into flower shapes and glued to wooden dowels.  This is an area we can change out with the seasons – replacing the flowers with flags for July 4th, ghosts for Halloween, and glass ball ornaments for Christmas.

The Budget:

Seat cushions – 40.00
Pillows – 35.00
Square table – 25.00
New tile top – 2.00
Spray paint – 26.00
Plants and planters – 47.00
Window frame with screen – 16.00
Paper flower supplies – 5.00

TOTAL – 196.00


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