I love having a little front porch to sit on, drinking my tea in the morning or enjoying an early evening rain. I have a problem, though; I rent. I have no control over the color of the house or whether the columns get fresh paint. The cement could use a fresh coat of paint, the stairs are crumbling, and the whole thing could use railing. And there’s nothing I can do about those things. What I can control, though, is what I put on the porch. With a just a little bit of money (along with the judicious use of sales and coupons), some elbow grease, and ingenuity it is possible to create curb appeal even for those of us who rent.
When I first moved into my little duplex, I just had no clue what to do. One reason is that I was stymied by my own eyes–all I could focus on was the things I didn’t like. The porch light is ugly, the siding is outdated, the paint on the concrete is almost completely flaked off leaving a raw gray porch, and it doesn’t have a cute white railing like some of my neighbors. I bought some chairs at Pier 1, but couldn’t find cute cushions so settled for ones that merely “matched.” I was so dissatisfied with my little space, I gave up. As a result I never sat out on the front porch enjoying the cool of the early morning or the fresh scent of a summer rain.
Finally last summer I was inspired by a piece of sale fabric at Hobby Lobby. The colors were bright and vibrant and I loved it so much I bought all they had–which, unfortunately, wasn’t a lot. My sister was visiting so we brainstormed ideas and got to work. The two of us took a couple of days to do some updating, painting, and got started with the project. It took a few more shopping trips to finish up my new look, but it was inexpensive and easy to create a space I am proud of and enjoy even though I rent.
What did we do? I bought a half dozen cans of white outdoor spray paint and made those ugly burgundy wicker chairs clean, white, and fresh. Because the chairs were originally so dark and the wicker was dry, it did take a few cans for each chair. Please make sure if you are doing any spray painting, take precautions–paint only in a well-developed area, wear a mask, and protective glasses.
Next, it was time for new cushions. Using the old ones as a pattern, my sister made new ones. The fabric she used was from Hobby Lobby and she made a pattern from newspaper. The cushions have a number of buttons on the back so I can easily wash them. I sprayed them with Scotchgard to protect them from the elements (and my neighbor’s cat). I love these cushions! Thank you, Betsy!
I already had a couple of outdoor tables, but they didn’t match and they were kind of ugly so I spray painted them as well to give a more unified look to my space. I used a contrasting color for the two small plant tables. The “picnic table” style plant stand got a quick coat of paint and a new planter. The round table also got a quick coat of paint, but instead of a typical decorative plant, I decided to try something different. On the round table, I used a large terracotta tray as a planter. I spray painted it. After it dried, I filled it with potting soil, added succulents, and covered the dirt with moss. The last touch was to add the iron bird feeder–I picked this one up at a local antique mall.
I wrote a previous post about how I made the ottoman. Check out the directions here. A couple of weeks ago I added wheels to my ottoman–what a difference that made! This is a fun and easy project.
A couple of other touches…my sister painted an old sofa table I had inside taking up space. I distressed it and changed out the knobs (I got the new ones on sale 50% off at Hobby Lobby). I added some glass tile to the top and some plants. The table adds visual interest to my front porch, but also acts as a visual divider between the two sides of my duplex.
In the past I used your typical box store hanging plants on my front porch. I decided to mix things up and skip the hanging baskets all together. I found these mum balls at Hobby Lobby, bought three of them in coordinating colors and have them hanging from the nails that used to hang the hanging baskets. These are fun and easy to store. I love them! And off course I used my Hobby Lobby coupons.
The last touches were to add a welcome mat, an indoor/outdoor rug and throw pillows I picked up at Target. And instead of a wreath hanging on my front door, I decided to hang it from the window in the seating area. This one was made with scraps and doodads I found in my craft room.
To create curb appeal for my rental, it just took some ingenuity, a few cans of spray paint, re-purposing things I had around my house and in the basement. Instead of focusing on the constraints created by a lease, I looked at my space with new eyes. I let the color of my door (I mean who else is lucky enough to have a teal door?) and the color of the ceiling (navy? awesome!) along with the vibrant colors of the cushion fabric to inspire my design. And the fact that my sister and I did the work together, was a bonus. This is a space I can be proud of and enjoy using.