Category Archives: Patio

Repainting a Doormat

April is the month when our homes and yards come out from hibernation and are begging for some freshening up.  There are several quick and easy tricks to help make the most of your home’s curb appeal.  

Doormat AFTER

This week, I focused on the doormat.  A doormat is a fun way to add color and personality without a big commitment.  A few years ago, I found an extra large doormat at Costco, and I really like how the size fits our porch.  Of course, after a year or two, doormats start to fade significantly. 

Doormat BEFORE

I decided to start painting our old doormat, because I really hate to throw things away that are still in good condition and have a useable life.  I read online how people have used spray paint or craft paint to make designs on doormats, so I decided to give it a try.

Doormat some color

Because my mat had deep cutouts, I worked with the raised shapes and painted on lots of bright color.   Where the rug wasn’t completely faded, I used the pattern and lines that remained as a guide.  I used leftover acrylic craft paint from my stash, and a medium-sized paintbrush.

Doormat progress

Since I used several different colors, I tried to balance their placement across the rug.  I also tried to use each color at least three times.

Doormat midnight

It took quite a few hours to paint everything, so I am hoping it lasts for a year or two, but we’ll see.

Doormat AFTER

Is your home calling out for a refresh this spring?  Have you ever tried painting a doormat?  If you have, let me know how long it was until the paint faded again!

Summertime Picnic Table

Last spring, there was a wholehearted attempt to create a beautiful outdoor oasis on the concrete slab in our back yard.  You know, a budget-friendly replication of those those gorgeous outdoor spaces with a barbecue grill and dining set for cozy alfresco dining, modern cozy sofa and chairs for intimate conversation and a fire pit made for marshmallows.  And lights! Lots of beautiful twinkling lights.

Working with a non existent budget, I purchased a faded green plastic Rubbermaid table from Idaho Youth Ranch for $8.  I decided I would spray paint it a neutral gray color and it would be perfect with some brightly colored chairs.


Except it wasn’t.  Six cans of gray spray paint later and I still had a table that looked like a splotchy mess.  Some parts were glossy and some were matte, and bright sunlight only emphasized each flaw.  Luckily, the legs and edges turned out okay, so when the top had plates of food on it, you couldn’t really tell how bad it was.  I was disappointed though.  My inexpensive ‘fix’ wasn’t amazingly beautiful and it was turning out to cost more than I planned.


I have since discovered that an initial coat or two of spray primer probably would have made all the difference in my finished product.  The table top had weathered enough that it was just absorbing all of the paint, and a primer would have sealed the surface first.  In spite of its imperfections, the table was well-used last summer before being stored in the garage for winter.

Most people would probably call it quits on the old table and say ‘lesson learned.’  On the other hand, I was determined to keep a perfectly good and sturdy table from the landfill.  I brought out the gray table this week and decided to see what I could do with it once more.

I don’t know how well this will hold up, but I primed the whole table with indoor/outdoor primer, then painted it with two coats of leftover gray exterior house paint.  I will keep you updated on how well it holds up, but I am happy with how smooth and even the coverage is.

I love gathering ideas on Pinterest and noticed some cheerful stenciled and geometric patterns on table tops.  I decided to use painter’s tape and some leftover paint to make my own design on the top of our patio table.  I sketched up an idea on paper first.


Then I measured it out and drew it on the table with a pencil.


To make things a bit easier, I traced the design onto the front and back of parchment paper (like a ‘carbon-copy’) and then transferred it to the table.


Then I taped it off with painter’s tape.  I sealed the edges of the tape with a quick coat of gray paint, to keep the colored paint from seeping under the tape.  worked like a charm!



Next, I painted several coats of acrylic craft paint on the taped-off shapes.  For the circles, I had just traced around a cup, so I did my best to paint inside the lines.


When I took off the tape, I had nice crisp lines!


I could have left it like this, but it felt a little ‘flat’ to me, so I added a few hand-painted details.  My husband laughed at me, because I had taken so much effort to make crisp lines, and then I painted over them.  I just ignored him. ha.


When all of the paint was dry, I coated the entire table with a water-based outdoor urethane to protect it.

IMG_3002As far as thrift store furniture makeovers go, this particular project cost more than I anticipated.  Still, it came in under $50, and when you consider the cost of a brand-new table, this one doesn’t seem so bad.


Paired with an outdoor rug and brightly painted chairs, I think we are well on our way to a fun outdoor dining space.


Bring on the sunshine, cheeseburgers and icy lemonade!



Creating a Backyard Getaway

Note: As written for the Idaho State Journal, Saturday April 5, 2014.

Snowstorms aside, it’s that time of year when our thoughts start turning toward the outdoors.  We dream about sunshine, barbecue, picnics and long evenings spent enjoying the warm weather.  It is also the time of year when people start thinking about making patio furniture purchases.  Here are some tips to get the patio of your dreams.

1. Think about your ideal outdoor experience.  Since you likely won’t have beaches and palm trees in Pocatello, you will want to create your own backyard getaway.  Decide what colors and settings make you happy and relaxed.

2. Determine the main functions of your outdoor space.  This is especially important if space is limited.  If your main event is dinner on the deck, you will want to invest in a table and chairs. On the other hand, if you prefer to lounge and read a book after work, your money is better spent on some comfortable adirondack chairs or an outdoor sofa.  A fire pit and low seating may be ideal if you prefer chatting and roasting marshmallows.  If space allows, you might decide on a nice mix of all three.

3. Make the patio an extension of your home.  Think about your outdoor space as another (seasonal) room.  If your patio or deck is welcoming, you will want to spend more time outside.  Consider outdoor rugs to soften and define the area.  Add pots or beds of plants and flowers to blend the edges between indoors and out.  Weatherproof cushions and pillows can add comfort and color to your furniture.  Electrical or solar lights add to the ambiance as well as guide your path after the sun goes down.

4. Select furniture for comfort and durability.  There are a wide range of weather resistant outdoor products available.  I suggest trying out several options in the stores to see what is the most comfortable for your intended use.  Select the highest quality you can afford, and consider how and where your furniture will be stored when not in use.  I  prefer to mix and match pieces, so you don’t end up with a look that is boring or predictable.

5. Create shade.  Nothing turns you indoors faster than no chance of shade for relief from the blazing sun.  As hard as it may be to remember right now, it does get hot here in the summer.  Your outdoor room will be used much more frequently if you have shady spots created with trees, umbrellas, pergolas or awnings.  It is also practical to locate pools and sandboxes in areas where shade can be provided.

6. Establish privacy.  Your outdoor room will feel more like a retreat if it has a feeling of enclosure, especially if you have a hot tub or dining area.  Fences, lattice, pergolas and landscaping can all lend privacy and help define your space.

7. Accessorize. The simplest way to turn your deck or patio into a welcoming and personalized space is to add weatherproof art, colorful dinnerware, juicy burgers and cold lemonade.

Follow along with me this summer on as we turn our slab of concrete into a fun outdoor room.

Patio Inspiration #1

As some of you may know, I am writing a weekly (Saturday) column for the Idaho State Journal’s new Home page.  I am really excited for this opportunity and have been enjoying the challenge.

This week we focused a bit on our outdoor spaces, and I talked about ways to create a backyard getaway.  As Jer and I talk about summer plans, one big thing that keeps coming up is to ‘do something with the patio.’  We love to spend time outside as a family on the evenings and weekends, so any effort we put into making a relaxing outdoor space will be worth it.  Since we are also planting a giant garden again this year, our patio progress might take all summer and beyond.  I promise I will keep you posted as we take our concrete slab and turn it into our very own relaxing outdoor room.  For now, here are a few things that have inspired me.  Click the numbered links below the images for more information on each product.




1. Threshold Heatherstone Wicker Patio Loveseat with Navy cushions.  We might be going with navy trim on our exterior this summer, so this would tie in with the house and pull out the color a bit.  I love the straight lines of the loveseat and the modern look fits well with the simplicity of our home.  I like to use pillows like this abstract flower and geometric print to tie in all the colors and the song bird pillow to add some whimsy and a few accent colors.

2. A few red pots of flowers or plants add a pop of color and keep the blues from dominating too much.  Any bright color you love would work here, since blue is a pretty good neutral and almost every color will work with it.

3. A simple round table adds some curves to the mix.  While this works well as a side table, it could also be used as a little brunch table for two with some fun chairs pulled up around it.

4. Strings of lights add so much ambiance, turning the party from blah to magical.  I like these from Target with the fun shaped filament bulb, but round bulbs are also fun. Consider solar string lights for a soft bluish glow.

5. Pots of plants in fun accent colors tie your decor together and help blend the patio into the yard or garden space.  I chose cobalt planters for inspiration, but turquoise, pink, yellow, white, red or green would also be fun options.

6. A neutral table and chairs lets you change your decor and update easily.  I like gray because it goes really nicely with bright summer colors, but brown woods also work well.

7. Chair cushions are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to add some color or update your outdoor spaces.  These seat cushions tie in all the colors of the larger furniture pieces and the rug, and have a fun zig-zag pattern.

8. An indoor/outdoor rug is the piece that will tie it all together and give your space the feeling of an outdoor getaway.  This rug in a mix of blues is a statement piece, but still neutral enough that it would work well with a variety of accent colors.


As I said, these are all just inspiration images.  Many of them are way out of our budget right now, but we have some projects and ideas in mind to make it much more affordable and uniquely ours.  Is anyone else working on an outdoor space this summer?  What is your inspiration?