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front porch makeover! also, my dog never listens to me.

It all started more than a year ago, when I found this bench at an estate sale. It was solid oak, sturdy enough, but they were asking way too much money for it.

Especially considering that it was upholstered with teddy bears.

Teddy bear tapestry? I think I'll take a pass. It was the end of the last day of the sale, so I offered them $20, and they accepted. I brought it home and it sat on my sunporch. (Three season porch? A porch enclosed with windows? What are we calling these nowadays?)

Someone thought the teddy bear tapestry was quite comfy.

I said, "Horsedog, get off the bench. You're in the way."

To which she responded, "I'm not listening."


"Yes?" she said.

"Get off the bench."

"You're mumbling, I didn't understand a word you just said," she replied.

Retrievers will play this game all night. Just like they will bring back a stick 650 times without tiring.

They're very good at focusing. Unfortunately, this one is focused on pretending she can't understand me. Which is a tiny bit problematic.

After we played Get Off the Bench, Horsedog until 3:30 am, I decided to call it a night and came back bright and early the next morning.

Have I ever mentioned how much I admire the handiwork of the people who previously owned my house?

Oh, I haven't? That's probably because I don't admire the handiwork of the people who previously owned my house.

This is the kind of stuff they liked to do.

The porch was painted shortly before we bought the house a year ago.

Apparently, primer was too much work?

At any rate, you can't put latex paint over oil-based paint, expose it to heat and cold, and expect it to do anything other than crack, bubble, and flake.

This is what the sunporch looked like after about two minutes with a wire brush.


You can see the years of paint underneath. An aging white. Some kind of green.

And the parts that were not flaking still had this...attractive?...texture.

While the entire sunporch really needs to be stripped of all the...awesomely?...textured paint, I have other plans for this portion of the house, and don't want to labor in the summer heat doing work that will only be undone. What I did want was to be able to enjoy the sunporch as long as it's there, and to be able to offer my guests a seat on something not upholstered with children's toys.

After I scraped the obviously flaking paint, I primed and painted over those areas to prevent future problems, and set to work scrubbing the floors and window ledges, which had been exposed to a year of dirt traipsed in by children and large equinecanines.

So, for a day's work and $150, this is where we are now.

The daybed was a Craigslist find, and came with a trundle. I drove about 40 minutes to pick it up, but for $40, I couldn't pass it up.  I painted it robin's egg blue.

The pictures and picture frame are vintage, things I picked up for a couple of bucks here and there at thrift stores and yard sales. Alone, each print is pretty lackluster. But en masse, they become larger than the sum of their parts.

The only new piece in this grouping is the shadow box in the lower left. I put a skein of yarn in it.

I'd be willing to wager that at least 20 of you also have this IKEA chair. I've had mine for more than ten years, and while it's not really my preferred decorating style, it's darn comfy. The lamp was repurposed from another part of the house where it wasn't being loved the way a lamp should.

I painted the IKEA chair white and added a pillow covered with a vintage pillow case.

Print: Yard sale, $.50. Aqua canning jar? Gift from sister.

This coffee table is a very old chest I bought at an estate sale for $10. It has square nails and rope handles, and while someone did a less than perfect job repairing the lid, I like the weathered, grounding feel that it adds to the space. You don't feel bad putting your feet on it.

My mother in law gave me the tin sign on the left -- she picked it up because it says "Diamond Dyes," and she thought I might like it. Which I do.

The bed linens were mine, bought from Garnet Hill a few years ago.

And here's the bench now. I roughed up the glossy surface with some sandpaper, gave it a coat of spray primer, and then sprayed it a cheerful, sunporchy kind of yellow.

I reupholstered the seat with a piece of remnant fabric I bought at Hancock for $2, which just so happened to match these pillows I had. The pillows are from a pink upholstered chair that we have in our break area at the studio, and I was able to use the mate to the aqua pillowcase here.

The artwork above the bench was a message board I bought at a yard sale for $.50. I painted it a color I mixed up from one of the 9,000 swatches I painted on my dining room walls, and then filled it in with vintage bird prints. The prints came from a book I also got at a yard sale.


The side table and linens were repurposed from other parts of my house.

The plants were 50% off at a garden center, and I was also able to use a gift certificate that my employees gave me for my birthday in May. I'm constantly lamenting my lack of landscaping, so it was a fitting gift, one that I'm enjoying every day now.

Astilbe, double begonias, and columbine.

Ideally, I'd like a more interesting rug. But you can't beat refinding something you didn't even remember you had.

I was out in the garage, sifting around for tools. Half the time, I don't even know what I'm looking for, I'm just looking for something. In this particular instance, I was in the garage looking for the kind of sandpaper that I like. 

I live three blocks from one of those mom-and-pop hardware stores. The kind that you go in and three guys named Steve behind the counter ask what they can find for you.  No, really, there are three guys named Steve. And one of the Steves told me to try this new 3M sandpaper that is much longer lasting than the traditional stuff.

And might I add, mom and dad, that every time I go in there, one of the Steves asks if I would like to put my purchases on your account. The first time they asked me that, I looked around. How did they know who my dad was? Was he standing behind me and I didn't know it? I haven't lived in Duluth for a dozen years, how did he know I was your daughter? And also, there are still hardware stores that let people have standing accounts? What is this, the upper midwest?

Anyway, while I was wandering around the garage, I spotted an area rug leaning up against the wall, still in its protective plastic.  Upon closer examination, I remembered that I bought two of them at a home improvement store on clearance For $39 each for use in the studio. I ended up only using one in my office, and the other has been sitting unnoticed for ten months.

The size was right, the price was right, and I won't care if it gets muddy horsepaws on it.

So that's my one day, $150 makeover.  In fact, I'm writing this from the daybed, which is quite comfy.

What do you think?

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Reader Comments (38)

It is a beautiful room!! I love the aqua canning jar. Lovely job!

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Sue

Can I come over for a cup of tea? It looks so lovely!

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCinnamon

I want to sit on that daybed and knit for the rest of the summer! Would you mind? I promise to bring snacks!

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Lovely room. I love sunporches. What a nice addition to have. Enjoy!

The colors are lovely together. Like the bold with the soft colors and textures.

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoraine

What do I think? I think you have the most incredibly amazing eye, and please would come redo my entire house, top to bottom?

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenia

I think it's absolutely beautiful. It has such a soothing feel too - I wanted to plop down on the daybed with that book "In This House of Brede" and read it all over again. I could put my feet up while you bring me Cappuccino Coolers on a vintage tray all throughout the afternoon....and of course you could keep Rosie in another part of the house. :) You did a wonderful job!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYarnista's Mama

I have 2 of those IKEA chairs. They are so comfy! Pretty room.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIngrid

It's beautiful! I was just reading on another blog about summer porches and beds. Now I wish my backporch was actually a sunporch/3 season room. Someday. :0)

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMim

I have one of those IKEA chairs! I wish it looked as pretty in my living room as it does on your porch. You created a really beautiful and soul soothing spot.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandi

Seriously??? Wow!!!! Can I come hang out and read and knit on your sunporch this summer with your mom while you renovate something in my house? :)

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M.

I think it looks beautiful! You want to come do my playroom? I've got chocolate!!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I love your new 'porch'. Regarding the canning jar....a funny story. I was wasting some time several days ago... cruising around Pinterest and noticed a photo of one of those aqua canning jars. The comment below was: "Does anyone know how to dye the jars to look like this?" I almost spit my coffee on the laptop screen!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I was totally with you on the whole journey ... well, okay, only the beginning part in which your dog plays deaf.

As for the redecorating & making such a soothing, welcoming space? I could spend ten times that much to find that it looked not even one-tenth as nice as yours.

Beautiful job!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah JS

Sheesh, I miss Minnesota Estate Sales! I have never found cool stuff like that around here. In fact, I quit hitting the yard sales because I don't need more plastic junk in my house (and that's about all I find when I go)! I love your new sunporch! Everything is perfectly beautiful.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterangela

What do I think? I think you're awesome. ;-) Great re-purposing of so many items!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I reminds me of summers at my grandparents' cottage at the beach in New Brunswick. It had the very same "feel". I'm feeling nostalgic and a little "homesick" suddenly. I LOVE it!!!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTonja

1. You make me jealous
2. You make me want to go yard-sailing
3. You make me want to build a sunroom.... off my duplex which I do not own.
4. You make me want to move to Duluth. No surprise there.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSavannah

Absolutely inspiring!!! I hope to have a sun porch someday.... And I love that you found such cool things at yard sales/thrift stores/craigslist. Yay!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I love all of your lovely touches on the sunporch... might be borrowing some of those ideas!! My favorite small detail is the Rumer Godden novel sitting on your trunk.... happens to be a rather obscure book that I especially love. Hope you get some time to put your feet up and enjoy your charming porch!

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Wow, the porch looks amazing. I could sit and knit for a very long time.
The porch finish on our first house looked just like yours. My mother-in-law brought us this tool thingy that burns off the paint. Well, needless to say I about set the house on fire. I learned to love with the bumps and lumps.
By the way, isn't horsedog/Rosie pregnant? You haven't said much, or did I miss a blog? She doesn't look pregnant in the pictures or did you get her good side?

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

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