before & after: porch makeover

Seeing as we are definitely in peak porch season right now, this simple, stylish porch makeover could not have come at a better time. Rachael took it upon herself to fix up this neglected area of her rented home, and in the end, her landlords were so pleased with the results that they plan to reimburse her for all the amazing work she’s done. Great work, Rachael! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about Rachael’s porch makeover after the jump!

Time: 6 weeks

Cost: $250

Basic Steps: This porch was mostly used for storage before I moved in. I put a chair and table out there, but it never really felt right. It had such great potential with 15′ ceilings and a great view that I kept thinking that with a few minor updates, it could be really cool. I’m just renting, but I knew there were things I could do.

Originally, I was just planning on painting the walls, but as I got more and more curious, I ripped up the flooring. I stripped the linoleum and a few layers of paint to refinish the wood floors. Next I sanded the walls and white-washed the wood, brick and particle board (pink, faux gold marble, white and grey were the original  colors). I sewed all of the curtains and pillows and framed all of the artwork. I gutted an old chandelier and rigged it on an up-and-down pulley to light and extinguish the candles that now fill the bulb casings. I wanted it feel more like an extension of my apartment than a separate porch.

I would definitely say to people that you shouldn’t feel restricted or unmotivated to complete home projects as a renter. There are so many things you can do to spruce up whatever space you’re in. As far as specific advice, I would say be prepared to use a lot of chemicals and get really messy when stripping wood floors. That being said, I don’t know that there are many things as rewarding as finished wood floors. I would also tell them they’re going to need a lot of paint when painting brick by hand, so consider spraying. Rent is expensive in the city, and we have to make the most out of the space we have. Refinishing the porch has added a whole other room onto my apartment. — Rachael

  1. Great makeover! Where did you get the pillow fabric? I think it really makes the space pop.

  2. Bryn says:

    a very fresh feeling space. love it!

  3. Bethany says:

    Amazing job!

  4. Leone says:

    Wow! It such a fresh little spot to sit with the door propped open, drinking some lemonade. I’d hang there!

  5. Sam Dodson says:

    Rachael did an amazing job showing creativity and vision: the porch looked like a bad dream before she tore into it. I happen to know that Rachael’s was raised by wolves and am sure that such a feral upbringing has allowed her to bring domesticity and class to any environment she finds herself in, whether it be cave or brownstone.

  6. Rachel Tatem says:

    That’s amazing! Looks so great and for so little!

  7. Nikki says:

    This is awesome and gives me so much hope for our own porch (which looks eerily similar to the before picture). Thanks so much for sharing this.

    On another note… how in the world was that above photo taken?

  8. Lorna says:

    My back pork looks almost identical to the before photo, only with carpet (yech) instead of linoleum. It also looks like your space suffers from some water damage as well, much like my space. Is that true? I’ve pretty much given up on my rear porch because of the damage, but you’ve given me some hope for a pretty space!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    This is the kind of successful, realistic makeovers I wish I could see more of! Great job. Thanks for the motivation (from another renter in a pricey city).

  10. hillary says:

    I want to go to there!

  11. Kristina says:

    Love it! What an excellent job you did, happy that your landlord will reimburse you – you deserve it!


  12. Katie says:

    Wow! What an amazing transformation! I love the pictures hanging over the window! xo

  13. What a cozy little space…well done! And for $250? I’m impressed. Thanks for sharing this before + after, I’m all about it! Xo, Katie

  14. Tina says:

    It looks fantastic. Great job!

  15. tamanna rahman says:

    this is gorgeous! what an amazing transformation – i would be so, SO reluctant to do this kind of work to my rented space. glad your landlords see the value of the work you’ve done and will reimburse you! great job.

  16. Molly Cooper says:

    I am insanely impressed, goodness. And it makes me sad that I’m not doing more with my porch, which is actually in pretty fantastic condition. I need to get on that! Wonderful before & after, and very inspiring :)

  17. Ali says:

    Oh my word, I love it!! Rach, you have a real gift. So, see you at my place next week to make over my room!?

  18. Suz says:

    Well done! I rented a place with a porch in similar condition. I wonder if yours smelled of cat urine, too? I’m long gone from that place, but it makes me want to take the uglies out of my house now (hello, entry!).

  19. Katherine says:

    It’s so nice to see a stunning transformation with a realistic budget. While it’s always inspiring to see top tier work, I already know that spending the equivalent of three year’s salary would yield an incredible space. This is a great example of a more attainable “roll up your sleeves and get crafty” project — the reason I love Design*Sponge!

  20. Robina says:

    Pretty impressed.

  21. Ban Clohting says:

    Hands down the best before and after I have seen on Design Sponge!

  22. denice says:

    I agree that it’s wonderful to see such an incredible transformation on a realistic budget. This kind of thing will inspire more people to take on exciting projects to beautify their homes. A little bit of elbow grease is often half the battle! Well done!

  23. Nadine says:

    Great job. A room you would never want to sit in is now so inviting. It’s great to hear the landlord appreciates your efforts too. I’m impressed with the small budget.

  24. I’m always impressed by the before and afters on Design Sponge, but on seeing this one I actually let out a gasp! And on such a small budget! Amazing and inspiring

  25. Hilary says:

    Looks amazing! Very inspiring for us renters! Love how everything looks fresh and clean.

  26. Those black leather chairs are wonderful!! Are they vintage? Recovered? Would love to know where they came from!

  27. Patty Dodson says:

    So Stylish! And inviting! You took it back to the basics and brought it bad from its’ sad sad state. Box wine here we come. Totally unbiased opinion. Mamalou

  28. Susan L says:

    So impressive, great job!

    Use an electric sander on the walls?

  29. This turned out so great! Love the overhead shot ;) Ooh and pretty fabric pattern choices!

  30. Well there is drastic changes between before and after…Reaaly appraising thing you did…Really interesting..I like this type of post.

  31. Laura says:

    Looks great – the white walls, wood floor and bold pattern fabrics make for a really cool space without looking like you’re trying to hard. Really fab. Please can you share where the fabric for the cushions is from, I’m in love!

  32. Rachael says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who commented! It was a lot of fun and well worth it!

    The fabric is an Amy Butler pattern from a few years ago – Lotus Cherry I believe. The chairs are vintage – (Consider H Willet furniture company, KY – 1958). Lastly, I climbed the ladder to take the overhead shot. There’s a ladder on the wall that leads up to the roof.

  33. rach says:

    hillary- i love the 30 rock quote and i share the sentiment! i t00 want to go to there, gorgeous job rachael!

  34. rach says:

    oooo and samesies about the fabric, so divine!

  35. Sue Bish says:

    Just exactly my style! I want a lake cottage to design exactly that way….I’m Derek’s step-mom, so I’ll enlist your help when the time comes!

  36. Rachael says:

    The 4 small paintings above the window are from an Etsy designer – TastesOrangey.

  37. Wow, Rachael your porch looks amazing! I can’t believe how much you transformed that space. And I am totally flattered you incorporated my prints into your design…so neat they each fit into their own little nook!

  38. THAT is a makeover. Insane! So pretty.


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