An Outdoor Project

If you've read my blog at all, you probably already know that my outdoor spaces are important to me. We really do live on our porches, front and back. Three seasons of the year, you'll find someone outside enjoying these outdoor rooms. All of it perfectly imperfect, you will see sure signs of life lived abundantly on a budget. The outdoor fireplace was made of reclaimed brick. The pond waterfall was made with slate that was given to us. Many of the shrubs and flowers are classic "pass along plants", from the gardens of people we dearly love.

We've yet to be able to afford to replace our plastic resin chairs with nicer ones....the deck needs restaining...the outdoor rug needs replaced...and the cushions on the rockers and wicker chairs are showing their age.

Beautiful patio furniture has always been a bit of an unrealized dream for me. So we make do creatively - it makes for a lot of fun family stories.
Our table out back was made from the top of a giant wooden cable spool. We saw it on the side of the road, looking like one of those wooden spools of thread, only the size of a compact car. Our local cable utility company discards them, so we got permission to take it home - free. Tim made an outdoor table out of it, about six years ago. It already had a small hole in the middle, perfect for a patio umbrella.

My plan was to purchase a new outdoor table and chairs this spring...but happily, a wedding bumped that from top of the budget priority, to bottom of the list.

This past year, our table has begun to show wear and tear, since it is entirely made of wood, and exposed to all the elements, all year long, on our uncovered back porch. Since I couldn't replace it as I hoped, I needed a rain-proof table cloth to make it presentable - except you won't find a round vinyl table cloth that is at least 120 inches in diameter. (This table is huge. We can sit ten around it very comfortably, and twelve if we squeeze in.)

So I bought two inexpensive rectangular vinyl table covers (by Waverly) and decided to sew a center seam. But another problem presented itself: the umbrella, my mother's day present. The table cloth needed to come off and be put on easily without having to remove the umbrella every time.

Here's the solution I came up with:

I bought some duct tape in a matching color (you can buy duct tape now in robin's egg blue, hot pink, madras plaid, every color and pattern you can imagine!), and some seam binding - total cost under $5. (The table cloths themselves were $2.99 each at Marshall's)

I bound the inner edge with duct tape to reinforce it, inserted six grommets along each edge, and tied the two cloths together with the brown seam binding. (ribbon would not have been sturdy enough)

I also got a can of Krylon spray paint, and gave our plastic chairs a face lift. I'm embarrassed to say that the chair on the left is "before" - faded and dirty. All you do, is clean your resin chairs, and then spray them with this special paint, made for plastic outdoor things. It makes a huge difference!

We'll get by for another summer, without any major purchases, all for under $20. Though plastic resin is the last material I'd ever want for my outdoor chairs, we put such a high priority on hospitality that it was either find a way to buy a dozen matching chairs, or leave guests with no place to sit. Plastic it was...and still is. Someday, we'll upgrade. Until then, at least we're keeping the "doors open" in our outdoor spaces.

Just today, I fed thirteen for lunch - and we all mostly hung out outside. I can't give up serving others in this special way, just because I don't have "the right furniture".

A quick, simple makeover that took only a couple of hours.
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