Our Wonderful Followers who come back again and again to read about us...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Porch Projects on Our Old House

I think by now you readers know how much we love our front porch.  It is really like a second livingroom for us during the spring, summer and fall.

We made a few changes over the last week or so.....

Seeing as the porch faces east, the morning sun comes in SO nice!   By mid day and later in the hotter afternoon, the sun has moved beyond and the porch is in the cool shade.  Nice.....

For spring, that morning sunshine is very welcome.  It warms up the porch from a frosty cold morning in no time flat, we often can sit out there and enjoy coffee by 6-7 am and be comfortable.

But as summer comes around, the sun is feeling hotter and also it's brighter and stronger in the early morning.  It gets HOT out there fast until the sun gets up beyond the height of the tall windows, about 9 am or so.  We are squinting a lot and sometimes even seem to have headaches from the glare.  If I take a laptop or tablet out there to work on something, it's pretty tough to see that too.  So from about 6 am till about 9 am it's not as comfortable on the eyes.

I was on the Menards website (midwest big box store for home improvement like Lowes or Home Depot)  and I did a search for blinds. I was looking at venetian wood blinds, fake plastic blinds, matchstick bamboo blinds, and even room darkening window shades.  Anything at 72 inches wide was outrageous in price, needing to be custom ordered, or took up too much room, or didn't come in white!    Plus we needed something in 6 ft high because the windows are so tall!

But.. there.. in the clearance column... hmmmmmmm    some nice white rollup blinds made of narrow oval PVC tubes and rolled up compact to the top without a lot of fancy hardware.  Almost unnoticeable when rolled up tight.

We rushed over to the Appleton store where they had three 72" inch ones in stock and one 60" ... all marked down.   Can you imagine on clearance for $7.99 with another 11% off  storewide rebate sale???

We set to work installing them...   they were pretty easy, just measure well with a level, mark the holes and install some nice little hooks.   We had to trim one down about four inches narrower to fit, which we could do with a saw when it was rolled up tight, like a log!

We put a 72" wide one on the north side, a 72" wide on the south side, and then a combined set of a 72" and a 60" wide on the east side, butted up together close.  We just didn't cover the door or the windows on each side of the doorway.  The light comes through translucently, with a bit of faded detail.

And when rolled up tight, you don't really even notice them up there!  The strings hanging down were a bit of a problem, but I screwed in nice white cup hooks and we loop up the cords and hang them along the edges of the window frames below each blind.  Ta da!

Okay.. that was an easy task.
and later that week I happened to pick up one more of those 72 inch ones
to store away just in case one of these ever gets damaged. 

Now, we love sitting out there, but the wicker furniture we have out there isn't the most comfortable.  It's a used set we bought off Craigslist for a reasonable price when we first bought the house.  Steve said he would like a longer couch (for naps?) and I liked the idea of thicker cushions.  After an hour or so, these thin cushions leave a lot to be desired. Here is what we had on the porch for the last two years:

I looked at replacing the cushions, but the loveseat is a strange size, 51 inches long, and most store bought loveseat outdoor cushions are only 44 inches.  The chairs have a rounded back shape, and most store bought cushions are square for chairs.  And the money would be quite crazy if I tried to make my own and buy thick comfortable upholstery fabric and foam.

Plan B......

We looked on Craigslist for a longer white wicker couch.  Hmmm found a few here and there, but not what we were really looking for. I didn't want that new plastic wicker.  I didn't want old old beat up wicker that was rickety.  I wanted a nice WHITE wicker LONG couch that would be comfortable with thick cushions.  We didn't need a lot of extras like rockers, tables, ottomans etc.  No room for them on our porch, and we didn't want to clutter it up either.

We have one white metal porch rocker that is from the previous owners, and we also have a a little table and chairs for the grandtots out there. That is about all we need, too much furniture in big assorted sets would not work for us. So asking someone to split up a set was out of the question too.

Well, I gave up looking for WHITE wicker, and instead just searched Craigslist for "patio porch furniture"  and voila!  I hadn't thought of "rattan" furniture!  Stronger and more solid than wicker and with much thicker cushions.  I found this super duper quality Lane Ventura piece.  .....  the lady was telling me she paid a LOT for it "in the day" which turns out to be in 2001 according to the custom ordered tag on the frame.  (I looked them up and they are only available as custom ordered pieces at $2,700 for a single couch, I kid you not!)  

Her 14 year old used price? $75.00   
It don't look like much in her ad, does it? 

We drove over and looked, and it was clean and nice, and I saw a lot of potential.  She had just set it down in the basement when her new patio furniture came last week.  So it was not stored down there long at all. No pets, No smoking, and clean from a very nice fancy home.

So we snapped it up, and we hauled it home in a trailer behind the Tracker.  We stuffed the cushions in the back of the Tracker and could barely see over them to make sure the couch frame was still back there.  LOL

I invested in 2 cans of spray Kilz primer and 3 cans of good gloss white spray paint and went to work on the frame. Wheeeeeeee I was more and more excited as each coat went on!  This is just what I had in mind.

Next step... recovering the cushions! 

I snapped up some pretty clear blue and white upholstery fabric 
on sale at Joanns in Appleton on their Memorial Day special. 
It was a perfect pattern and color, just what I envisioned! 
I bought the last five yards they had in the store ----

(I know all of you fiber fabric people are gasping 
a warning gasp hearing about the last five yards, right?) 

When I got home, I prewashed the fabric and started my cutting plan... 

Rut Roh!  

Turns out this fabric was only 45 inches wide!  
Most upholstery fabrics are 60 inches wide!!!

My cushions were 55 inches around and I envisioned wrapping the 60" wide fabric around each one, sewing the sides with box seams and sewn-in velcro across the back for closure. Well, with only 45" wide fabric, that would not work into my plan!   ARGGHHH   I supposed that I could piece in navy fabric on the back sides, but then the cushions would not be reversible. With grandkids and dogs, the idea of making them reversible was kinda important to me. 

 Adding on more plain navy fabric ... well. ... that was NOT in my plan.  What next?  

Remember I said I bought the last five yards?   

Hmmmm I called the Joann's store in Appleton where I bought it. 
Nope. No more in the store and none on order. 

I checked online on the Joanns website. 
Nope. No longer being offered.
Then I did a search nearby stores... 
YAYAAAYYYYYAAA  the store in Sheboygan Falls has five yards in stock!  

I called there and yes, they would hold it for me.  Being only 35 miles away, I hopped in the car, set the GPS on my "not so smart" phone and I was on a fabric buying mission.  

Rut Roh again!!!  

This danged GPS was sending me into a corn field some 10 miles away from the town where this store should be!!!   I pulled over and double checked... and even opened a different navigation program app.  Nope, all sent me to the same country road in a corn field!   I doublechecked the address on the website and it was correct to be located on Hwy 28, but each time I cut and pasted that exact address into the GPS app, it send me here!!!!

See? even the POI file words are there 
stating that is IS Joanns Fabric and Craft
along with a listing for a church 
and a place called Surprises Unlimited.  
What a Surprise, it's a cornfield! 

Well, I knew my way over to Kohler, but I had never been to Sheboygan Falls and it's been years since I was even in Sheboygan.  But I found my way by my wits and guessing.  And I found Joanns!  And I got my fabric!!!!

(the clerks there said it's a problem and numerous folks mentioned that glitch on the GPS, and it can take a year or two to get it corrected with the data map folks who supply the POI way points for businesses to GPS companies) 

I swooped my way home with my extra fabric, and while it prewashed and dried, I started cutting my bottom cushions out of the 45" width, wasting a LOT of excess fabric down the side of the fabric as I cut.  Oh well, I could use it later for piecing some toss pillows and maybe a runner for the little table. 

I sewed the first cushion and it came out SO nice!   Compared to the pastel streaky artsy fabric of the modern 2000's years on there, eh? 

The frameworks of the rattan couch is almost too pretty to cover up with cushions!  But it wouldn't be too comfortable without back cushions on there, would it?   Cushion by cushion I sewed, and each time the doggers would hop on and check it out.  They would look at me quizzically as if to ask "But where is the REST?"

Soon it was done!   
All three bottom cushions, 
three back cushions, 
and two armrest cushions.

 With a couple toss pillows, and couple pups too.... 

There is enough fabric leftover to make a new cover for the cushion on the rocking chair, and make a matching table runner for the little wooden table by the window.

I posted the other wicker loveseat and two chairs on Craigslist, and sold it in one day.  

Okay, this blog is done,
now I am going out to sit in my porch! 

ps added later
got the one done for the rocking chair too!


  1. That is beautiful. You are so creative! Becki

  2. What a beautiful couch and your color pattern made it really stand out.

  3. You guys do good work .... very nice job.

  4. Oh my gosh, your couch and cushions are BEAUTIFUL!!! Karen you are so talented! I'm so glad you found more of your fabric, it is perfect. Now you and the family will really enjoy the front porch!

  5. Karen & Steve;

    Sorry I did not see this before now. I want to wish you both a "Happy Anniversary" . SWMbO and myself enjoy reading your blog, for some reason it ended up in my Bulk Mail folder our anniversary is coming up on the 25th of this month . Again a belated "Happy Anniversary"

  6. You're so talented, it looks beautiful! Bummer about the cornfield, but what a find!

  7. All I can say is "you are amazing! finding the bargains and making everythin work together so well. I loved your pourch when we visited you. Now we have to come again to see this new wonder.

  8. Exquisite look. You did nicely. I like blue too.

  9. Absolutely beautiful work...and what a find on the sofa. I can see why you want to go sit on your porch! Great pictures of the doggers.

  10. Wow, beautiful! You are SO talented. That couch looks SO comfortable, too. What a find. :)

  11. Really looks comfy and changes up the look of the sun porch. Job well done!

  12. Amazing work. Looks beautiful and sooo comfy.

  13. Very, very nice. You know I love the blue and it's perfect with the white.


Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I moderate all comments so it may take a little while for your comment to appear.