A Late Summer Porch Refresh

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

One thing I’ve always loved about our house is the big covered front porch.  So I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t done much to decorate it this summer, apart for putting out a few potted annuals.

Still my husband Chris and I enjoy sitting on the swing rocker sipping wine or coffee and watching the world go by.  But there is someone who spends a lot more time on the porch than we do:  Our cat Priscilla.

swing rocker before

Priscilla is 14 years old and likes to spend most of her day lounging on the front porch.  Sometimes she is joined by our other cat, Charlie, but he is not nearly as outdoorsy as she is.

I wanted to spruce up the look of the front porch – but anything I chose would be exposed to changing weather and to our cats, so I didn’t want to use anything too precious.

Recently there was a big neighborhood-wide garage sale nearby – which seemed like the perfect opportunity to find some Priscilla-friendly pieces.

Here is what I found.

Wicker Table

This little table was $5.

garage sale find: wicker table

The white was cute but looked out of place on the porch and just wrong with our house colors.  So I wanted to paint it.  But Chris asked me to wait until he had sanded the top, which was wood, to see just what kind of wood was under all that paint.

Waiting is not my strong suit, and I was pretty sure there was only plywood under that paint.  I was wrong.

wicker table wood revealed

Sanding revealed what appears to be walnut.  Chris sanded it and finished it with three coats of Cabot Semi-Gloss Spar Varnish.  Now the tabletop looks great.

wicker table wood finished

It’s surprising that anyone painted it in the first place.  And I think the cracks and the knots just add to the character.  Who knows how old this little table is.

After Chris did all the hard work, I got the fun part:  I spray painted the wicker with Rust-Oleum Universal Paint & Primer in One in Matte Citron.

The table still has vintage charm, only now it works with everything else.

Front porch refresh

front porch refresh

While Chris was in his workshop with his power tools fired up, he also made these cute birch coasters for us to use on the table.

front porch refresh: costers and cups

He still wants to do a bit more work on them, and I will be writing about them in a future post.

A Directors Chair

It seemed like everyone at this neighborhood garage sale was selling directors chairs.  It was like they were the item of the day.

Directors chairs really never catch my eye, but this one was special.

directors chair with faux bamboo frame
Directors chair as found

Can you see why?  The wooden frame is turned to look like bamboo.  This isn’t just any plain, flimsy directors chair.  And it’s perfect for the porch since I can easily fold it and pack it away in bad weather.

The original fabric doesn’t look too bad in the photo, but in real life it was beyond redemption.

I couldn’t believe it when, at another garage sale, I found a brand new natural toned fabric back and seat set that fit the chair perfectly.  What are the odds?

The chair was $5 and the fabric seat and back were a splurge at $3.

directors chair after
Directors chair with new cloth back and seat

I was considering painting this chair, but the fabric turned out to be such a nice upgrade that I just cleaned the wood with Method Wood for Good and then treated it with Howard Restor-A-Finish in mahogany.

front porch refresh

Chris cleaned the rust from the metal hinges with a small wire brush.

It seems the moral of the story with both the wicker table and the directors chair is that paint is not always the answer.

Swing Rocker Upgrade

I still had our winter cushion cover on the swing bench.  It’s actually a fleece throw that I got at a thrift store and fashioned into a cushion cover.  Cozy in winter, but silly and irrelevant in summer.  And now with summer almost over, I was finally doing something about it.

Keeping Priscilla in mind, I chose an inexpensive and durable duck canvas fabric.  And keeping in mind that summer is almost over, I chose an eggplant-ish color that could transition nicely from summer to fall.

And for a pillow cover, I used fabric left over from this curtain project.  It is another fabric that can ease into fall gracefully.

fabrics used in front porch refresh

I like that this color combination has a little tension and although they work for fall décor, they are not the colors one would usually expect.

front porch refresh

But how is this a garage sale find?  Well, I bought a throw pillow at a garage sale in almost-new condition for $1.

pillow with cover
Pillow as found with original striped cover and pillow insert

It had a zip-off cover, and I took the cover off and reused the pillow insert for the new pillow cover that I sewed.  Pillow inserts from craft stores can easily cost over $20, so I was pretty happy to find this one.

The Plant Trio

These were not garage sale finds but, to finish the look, I grouped three potted plants of varying heights.

plant trio resized
Large pot: Sedge and willow branches. Medium pot: Geranium Pelargonium ‘Indian Dunes’, Small pot: Saxifrage veitchiana

The Result

We already had on hand some of the cleaners, stains, and a fabric used for this project.  Purchasing the table ($5), the Citron colored spray paint (about $6), the directors chair ($5), the chair fabric ($3), the pillow ($1), and the bench cushion fabric (about $5) came to around $25.

front porch refresh

It didn’t take Priscilla long to find the directors chair.  Black cats don’t photograph well, but that never stops her from photobombing my blog posts, as she did here and here.

But as long as she’s happy.


I love to sew, even though I am fairly new to it.  Sometimes I feel like my sewing projects are going off the rails and destined for disaster – yet miraculously they always work out.  I like to credit my sewing machine, this Brother CS6000i, which I used for the bench cushion project.

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