Our farmhouse front porch needed refreshing. Changing the chair cushions and plunking down a few potted plants didn’t seem enough. I’d written a column for Bookology Magazine, “Richard Adams Gave Me Rabbits,” about how Watership Down was the last book that changed my life. That gave me the idea to makeover our porch with a Watership Down theme. Could one of your favorite books translate to porch or patio décor? You can give your porch or patio a makeover in seven easy steps:
Step 1: The front door. Painting it a different color sets the stage. Our front door had been hunter green since we’d moved in 23 years ago. I never thought it went with white siding and black shutters, but was reluctant to paint it (warning: it took two coats of primer and three coats of paint). The English countryside of Watership Down reminds me of flowers. I painted our front door a deep geranium pink [Lowe’s Valspar “Berry Blush” 1004-1A]. Re-read your favorite book and let its “color” come to mind. Paint the door, change the hardware.
Step 2: Main furniture. When we moved in, we bought a porch swing that I painted pink. I re-painted it a slightly different shade.
We also bought a porch rocker and two green patio chairs that stayed on the porch year ‘round. I looked at new chairs but didn’t like the styles. Paint the old ones! Pink’s complementary color is green. I bought spray paint in two shades of green and painted all the chairs the darker shade (matches green storm door). Consider re-painting anchor pieces a different color than your door.
Step 3: Accent pieces. Over the years, I added smaller pieces, all cast-offs. A vintage sewing machine cabinet serves as a refreshment/display piece.
A cheap patio table I had in my Hollins dorm room fits between the patio chairs. A baker’s rack that used to be in our bathroom holds plants or a tray of iced tea.
A child’s motel chair from Lowe’s, years old.
A small round plant table made by my husband’s father, decades old.
I painted them all dark or lighter green. Look around your garage and in your attic or go to a yard sale. Pick up odd pieces to “fill in” your décor.
Step 4: Plants. Potted annuals give instant color and texture. Red flowers look hot to me and our summers are hot enough. I bought only pink flowers in different varieties to match the swing. Choose plants in colors that will pop against the furniture and floor.
Step 5: Pillows and chair cushions. I held the darker green spray paint can against all the outdoor chair cushions in Lowe’s. A solid green fabric, a bit brighter than the chair frame, looked best. Pillows came from Walmart and Lowe’s.
Step 6: The fun part! Stuff! Outdoor living is a big deal and every store carries statuary, pots, fountains, plaques, and more. I’ve been collecting porch rabbits for years—one is 30 years old. Some are chipped or cracked. No matter, paint refreshes everything. I painted a few things porch-swing pink. Don’t aim for factory perfection. Swish the spray can, leaving a little of the original color underneath.
Step 7: Clean! In my case, I had to hose the porch down several times during heavy (endless) pollen season. I also washed the siding on the porch, the sidelights, the light fixture and the shutters. I wiped the furniture with a damp rag. Load your porch! Pop a wreath on the front door! (I made mine from a Michael’s grapevine wreath, a garland of silk geraniums, and a bow.)
The Big Reveal! Celebrate with a meal or dessert that relates to your book. I know two neighbor girls eager to sit on the pink swing and nibble carrot cake cupcakes from my rabbit dishes. (These looked better before a certain cat turned the box upside down. Jealous of the rabbits.)
P.S.: As I was putting up this post, the real thing turned up in our backyard–straight from Watership Down!