Living the Dream: Front Porch Makeover on a Budget

The following two tabs change content below.
Karen Fisher-Alaniz is a freelance writer and published author. She holds a master's degree in education and taught special education for 14-years. She is a frequent speaker on veteran's issues, and teaches workshops on memoir writing. She teaches a life story writing course at her local community college. At midlife, she found herself dealing with health issues, divorce, and the loss of a job she loved. She shares her journey of starting over at midlife on 8 Women Dream every Sunday morning. Her dream is to build a writing life, and find her writing voice, while restoring her 100-year old home. She dreams of writing best-selling books in her own voice. Karen lives in the pacific northwest with her family.
If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

Living the Dream: Porch Makeover on a Budget:  The front door newspaper

Create a Beautiful Home on a Budget

There’s a saying, “Money isn’t an issue.” It’s an expression I can’t relate to…at all…ever.

And even if I was rich and had mountains of money, I still wouldn’t relate to it. I am after all, a baby boomer raised by parents of the greatest generation!

When you’re starting your life over at mid-life, money and budget are always an issue.

I go through waves of panic over mounting bills, and then experience times of serenity – knowing that things always work out.

Choosing to own a house, rather than buy a condo, or rent an apartment – are certainly part of the reason that I consider what’s in my checkbook.

Keeping a house and yard up can be very expensive. There’s only so much you can do on your own. I can weed flower beds and lay down bags of bark, but I can’t chop down a 100-year old tree!

There’s so much I’d do if money weren’t an issue.


• put in a brick patio

• put a brick path in the parking strip and plant a drought resistant garden there

• knock out the wall between the kitchen and dining room

• put in a porch swing

• move the sink in the bathroom and install a penny tile floor

• hire someone to paint my garage (oh boy!)

• And oh…that kitchen!

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. -Woody Allen

Write and Be Rich?

But alas, money is an issue. And until my books make it to the NY Times Bestseller List, money will continue to be an issue. Actually, did you know that authors who make a living at writing are few and far between, regardless of that coveted NY Times list? In fact, the vast majority of published authors, whether they go the traditional route or are self-published, make less than $1,000 a year.

Here are the stats:

Living the Dream: Front porch makeover on a budget - Author writing incomes

Well, that’s depressing!

But on the upside, authors who do make it big are getting royalty checks from numerous books, not from one. Why is that good news? Well, because I’ve got a lot more books in me. Write enough of them and maybe I’ll be able to buy that porch swing.

But I digress.

Pick a Corner, Any Corner

When I’m feeling down in the dumps over my measly budget- feeling like I’ll have to sit in this 100-year old house until I’m 100, with no remodels, no re-do’s, and no renovations, I pick a corner. Yup. I pick a corner of the house; not a literal corner, just a piece of space.

Sometimes it’s my dining room table, hallway, or a bookshelf or dresser. And I redecorate that with what I have, and maybe a little paint or embellishment. It serves to raise my spirits without costing much at all.

This time I chose my front porch. I live in a 1910 Craftsman style home. I have a wonderful front porch, the kind that just cries out for a porch swing (but doesn’t have one). The wicker chairs I moved from my other house were looking old and dumpy.

And they were showing their age too – missing wicker, wicker sticking out like a bad haircut. And the color, which I loved at one time, called celery green, just wasn’t doin’ it against my pale yellow house.

Living the Dream: Porch Makeover on a Budget: Porch makeover before pic


Did I mention my favorite color is orange?

Enter spray paint.

I love spray paint. And for wicker chairs that are on a covered porch, it lasts forever…or until I get tired of the color, whichever comes first. So, with a vision in mind, I got to work.

Mission “Create a Brighter Space” had begun.

Wash and Trim the Chair Hair

After hosing the wicker chairs off good, and letting them sit in the sun a while, I set to repairing the chairs. I gave each chair a good trim, being careful not to leave sharp edges. I tucked pieces in when that would work; when it wouldn’t, I trimmed the wicker. Giving new life to old things is the perfect budget-friendly project.

Then I attacked the arms of the chairs where too much wicker had broken off over the years. It wasn’t just unsightly, it was also uncomfortable to rest your arm there. So, I went looking for some tape. I found some macaroni and cheese duct tape.

Yes, I know.

I like macaroni and cheese and my sister, Kathy knows it. What can I say? She’s a gift-giver. And the color was perfect to paint over. Whoops…was that insulting? So, I wrapped each arm with the tape, layering it until the space was covered. Smooth as a baby’s butt.

Living the Dream: Porch Makeover on a Budget: Repairing with duct tape

Time for a Spray Tan

That moving box I refused to toss out came in handy. I cut it, spread it out and both chairs fit on it at the same time. I’ve been known to go au-naturale and end up with blue grass, so this was an improvement. I must be growing up.

Insert collective “Awwww…” here.

I got out my $3 spray paint and the fun began. The orange covered the celery green so fast it made me giddy (or was that the fumes?). But it wasn’t fully covered. I’ve learned over the years to put on two light coats of paint vs one heavy one.

The heavy one tends to run and sometimes stay sticky. So, I left it to dry overnight and went back in the morning for another coat.

The chairs turned out great.

Side-note to that person who shall remain nameless: I bought these chairs at Pier 1 Imports at least 20-years ago. At the time, someone said I’d spent too much and that they’d never last. In fact, he said, “Those things won’t last 5-years.”

Ha! Maybe that’s why I’ve hung onto them. They’re proof that some things get better with age…and a little macaroni duct tape.

I took everything off the porch and hosed it down, then mopped the floor. Giving spaces a good clean is always a way to create a fresh look while staying on a budget. Amazing how much dust collects out there!

After everything dried, I laid down the new indoor/outdoor rug I got on clearance because it was the end of the season. I like blue with orange. Round table I already had, matching placemat I already had, and a plant potted in the spring all added to my new comfy porch.

The rooster, who’s watched over me for a few years took his place next to the little sign I got on a trip, and I wrote a new message on the blackboard. And wallah, I was done.

Living the Dream: Porch Makeover on a Budget: Porch Makeover After


Living the Dream: Porch Makeover on a Budget - The porch after


I think my front porch makeover on a budget turned out nice. And it makes me smile to sit out there reading my newspaper or my Coastal Living magazine. But the important thing is that it took my mind from feeling like I couldn’t afford to do anything nice to my house, to knowing that I can.

By perusing my own cupboards and closets and using things in a different way, I was able to create the look I wanted.

With a very minimal amount of money for the rug and spray paint, I re-did a corner of my house.

And I love it!

Did you hear that? Newspaper’s here. Time to take a glass of iced tea to the porch.

makeover details

It’s all about the details.

Stop by sometime. We’ll chat…I’ve got the perfect spot!

Karen Fisher-Alaniz
Starting Over at Mid-life

porch sign

Look for accessories in your own cupboards.

Give us your thoughts!