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One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. That’s one of my many credos—one that goes a long way in explaining why my mind seized upon the necessity of possessing a table and four chairs that had been discarded by some neighbors at the beach. When I saw the set from a distance, I was impressed. Why, I wondered, are they leaving such a cool outdoor combo behind?

When I sauntered nonchalantly across the street for a closer examination, I knew why. The paint was spotty and peeling, and a couple of chair legs were coming apart. And lest I forget, the glass for the table top was missing. Still….

Five minutes later, one of my granddaughters and her grandfather and I were hauling it to my carport. I was confident something could be done. Just about everyone present looked at me with that Whatever expression, thus deepening my determination to salvage the pieces. Salvage is too weak a word. Beautify is more appropriate.

Admittedly, though, I was a little intimated by the cat hair embedded in the chair cushions. And the mildew and numerous stains. And the smell was none too pleasant.

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Remaining confident, I brought the chairs back to Camden, and my husband and I made a return trip to pick up the table.

  • I cleaned the chairs and table with Dawn and a scrub brush and let them dry in the sun.
  • My husband removed the fabric from the cushions and cleaned the underlying layer.
  • I spent the better part of an hour in JoAnn’s deliberating over fabric. This involved sending photos to one of my daughters and asking the opinion of other shoppers.
  • The hubs and his daughter Jenny covered the chair cushions with shell fabric, a selection that an employee at JoAnn’s pronounced “classy.” img_7476
  • I chalk painted the table and decided it was too dull and chalky. Outside furniture needs a bit more gloss—and protection.
  • I hot glued some loose pieces of wicker and chopped others off with a pair of scissors. They were too curled up to cooperate in lying flat.
  • I found some “safe” (not too wild) Rust-Oleum paint called Khaki at Lowe’s, and before the painting was completed, we (95 percent Jayne) used nearly eight cans spraying the five pieces. The last can might have a few squirts left, and I put it away just in case. img_7353
  • I took the table to Baker’s Glass in Camden, and they cut a circular glass top. As a bonus, I met up with a former colleague there and had a wonderful chat.

 

At long last, we stepped back to admire the work. The way I look at it, we invested $34 on paint, $22 on fabric (they were having a sale), and $60 on the glass. The finished product is much, much more appealing than others I’ve spotted with high price tags, and I predict hours and hours of conversation, laughter, food, and maybe even singing shared around that table.

P.S. Instead of using a card table or dragging in a heavy wooden table from another room, I used the updated outdoor set for luncheon seating this week. There was a lot of positive feng shui around that circle. 🙂

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The next morning, I anxiously pulled back the Pier 1 curtain and peeked at the porch. Feeling both excited and apprehensive, I couldn’t wait to see how the application of the Annie Sloan Old White looked on the few selected squares.

Truthfully, they weren’t squares, but diamonds. When laying out the design, I had started on a diagonal, not knowing what the result would be. If you want squares, start eighteen inches from one side and place the tape every eighteen inches all the way across the surface. When you finish in that direction, start crisscrossing those pieces of tape every eighteen inches with tape going the other direction.

The design is a personal preference. I like the diamond look, despite the fact that it was accidental.

The paint had dried overnight, and before I pulled up the tape, I thought about layering it with the stain. After all, the stain contained sealer, and sealer was probably a good thing. But….well, after about 25 seconds, I decided to leave the chalk paint as the only floor covering. Why cover it up with a colored sealer after so carefully applying it? If necessary, I can use the stain on the porch floor later or use it for another project.

With bated breath, I tentatively pulled up a few pieces of tape. I loved what I saw and began yanking it all up. That was an easy thing to do because since all of the tape was literally stuck together, it came up in huge sections.

I stood back and admired (not too bashful to say this) the results. While I like the looks of the blue tiled floor, I felt like it needed a little something more. Light bulb moment: Why not stencil some stars on a few random diamonds?

Stenciling the stars and moons using acrylic paint was the most fun and creative part of the project. My brothers looked over the area and both said something like, “I thought you were going to paint this. Did you decide to have it tiled instead?” They were serious.

Upon closer inspection, they could see the floor was painted, not tiled, and I’m sure they might have thought the final look a bit amateurish. They’re too mannerly to say that, though.

I finally moved the furniture back inside and am loving the new look. The floor looks a little mottled in spaces, and that’s because of the damp concrete. We’ve had an exceptionally damp fall in South Carolina.

In summary, if I can do this, you can do this. There’s no need to pay someone else to do the job IF you are prepared to put a little elbow grease into the project.

 

Back to the porch painting project.

I let the concrete dry overnight, and that evening I looked at a few YouTube videos. Whether that was a good or a bad thing, I’m not sure. I do know that I got the bright idea to tape off the floor in squares so that when I applied the paint, it would only go on the squares and not on the tape. That way, my porch floor would look like tiles! Yay! Bright idea, huh?

I ran into a problem (er, challenge) right away. It’s hard to find ½ inch tape. The only kind I could find was double-sided tape, and it was a bear to apply. It stuck to my hand and to the floor at the same time. Very frustrating. Tuesday afternoon, my husband came in from the woods for a few minutes and checked on my progress. Standing at the open door leading to the porch, he inspected my handiwork and hesitated slightly before commenting on the crooked tape in the far right corner.

After a moment, he said, “If you had asked me, I would have told you a way to get those lines straight.”

I glanced at him to make sure he was serious. He was.

“Are you kidding me? Look, Sweetie. I love you, but there’s a reason I waited for you to go to the woods before I started this.”

“If you put a string in one corner and pull it tautly to the other corner….”

But I didn’t let him finish.

“Bye bye, Dear,” I said.

“I was just trying to help you,” he insisted as he walked into the house.

Before the afternoon was over, I ran out of tape. That was probably a good thing because I had nearly lost my religion trying to apply the double-sided tape. I went to Advance Auto in search for a specific type of tape suggested on one of the videos. Not only did they not have it, they had not even heard of such a tape.

The next day while in Target with my sister-in-law, I found ½ inch one-sided regular Scotch tape. Eureka and Hallelujah and Yippee! That afternoon, I finished applying the tape every eighteen inches and began painting.

While carefully applying the tape, however, I suddenly I got the bright idea of using Annie Sloan chalk paint instead of concrete stain. I double-checked YouTube to make sure this could be done. It could.

Using an official Annie Sloan brush, I began applying paint right in the middle of the floor. It looked good, really good. But something unfortunate happened. I ran out of paint, and the nearest Annie Sloan stockist was fifty miles away. Undaunted, I rationalized that if Annie Sloan paint would work, so would American paint, a brand sold downtown. I scooted down to Ellie’s Attic and bought a quart of Blue Jean, a color that looked almost identical to the Aubusson Blue paint left in the jar.

When I began applying Blue Jean, I soon saw that the shades were different. Oh well, I reasoned, it’ll be a unique look. In no time at all, I had used the entire quart of the American paint, and there were still a few squares where the paint looked thin. The ghastly green was threatening to shine through. I got out Annie Sloan Old White and applied a thin coat to these few squares.

Daylight was dimming, so I called it a day and walked into the house to rinse the paintbrush, all the time wondering what the morning light would reveal.

If not for the blogs I read, the ideas I saw on Pinterest, and the YouTube videos I watched, I never would have attempted painting the back porch, much less get creative with it. But I looked and listened and mustered up the resolve to just do it. If I can do it, anybody can. For the next couple of days, I’m going to break down the task in the hope of inspiring someone to take on some DYI project she’s (or he’s) been procrastinating.

Have you ever been absolutely fed up with how something in your house or yard looked? Have you ever said, “I wish I could do so and so with that slope, porch, room, patch of ground, or wall?” I have. This time, however, I took action. I realized that no one was going to beautify this space if I didn’t do it. And since I’m too stingy and stubborn to pay someone for something I think I can do, well, I did it.

I painted the screened-in back porch.

It looked horrible, downright nasty in places. Not only was the color a putrid shade of green, but the paint was coming off in places, but not in a chipping, peeling sort of way. More like someone had poured a bucket of acid on various spots on the porch floor, leaving a few areas with a leprous appearance. I’d tried covering those spots with small rugs, but I always knew what was beneath them. And besides, who puts a put beneath a window where there’s no traffic? No one—unless there’s something to hide. And there was, there sure was.

For month, years in fact, I had talked about painting the back porch. My husband’s customary response was to hide his head in the sand, pretending not to hear my suggestions. When he did respond, it was typically in either a cautionary way or a negative one.

Me: “I think we should just move all the furniture off the back porch, clean it, and then paint it with some porch paint and add glitter.”

Him: “Glitter?”

Me: “Yeah, Carol and Randy did that to their garage floor, and it looks fantastic.”

Him: “That’s a garage floor, not a back porch.”

There are several variations on the above theme, but all of them had the same ending: No Go.

Then one day I decided maybe we should just get rid of the screened-in porch and make it a sunroom instead. I was not really sold on that idea enough to really sell it to the hubs, however, mainly because you can’t hear birds chirping and children playing when you’re in a glass-enclosed room. And then there was the fact that neither of us really wanted to spend the money, not just for the work itself but also for the increased utility bills.

One day my frustration with the ugly room reached an all-time high, and I decided to take on the project by myself once my husband got involved with hunting season. In October of each year, he spends a week in the woods hunting, cooking, and listening to tales by a campfire.

I told him of my plans to transform the room, and on Monday of that week I went to Lowe’s to buy the materials: concrete cleaner, a stiff brush to scrub the concrete with, a roller and paint tray, and paint stain with built-in sealer. Monday afternoon, I removed all the furniture from the porch, hosed it down, applied the concrete cleaner, and worked like the dickens to remove some of the prior paint and a lot of crud.

The only difficult part of the cleaning afternoon was using a water hose without a sprayer. I didn’t know it was missing until I was ready to start working, and I knew I might lose my momentum if I stopped to go back to Lowe’s. Moral of the story: Make sure you have Everything (capital E) before you start.

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