The saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure," has never been more true. This easy weekend project will inspire you to identify the keepers.
Revive Old Porch Furniture
Credit: Photography John O'Hagan / Styling Amy P. Wilson

My brother was in the process of throwing out his old porch furniture when I pulled up just in time. Instead of tossing this worn-out sofa in the trash, I asked him to pitch it in the back of my truck. My wife gave me the standard you-are-not-taking-that-junk-home look, but I could see potential.

Once I got the sofa home, I went to work removing the padding, trim, and pieces that were too distressed to save. I then turned to retying the springs.

On an old piece like this, the springs are hand-tied together with string. Once they are tightly bound, they make a firm foundation for the cushion. So I followed the original string pattern and retied all of the springs back together. Next I scraped off the old, flaking paint. Then I repainted the entire piece with a couple of cans of white spray paint.

Now all I needed was a cushion. After a quick search, I found Cushion Source ( located in Montgomery, Alabama. They sell custom-made cushions in a wide variety of fabric choices in furniture (interior) and awning (exterior) grades. I followed the easy instructions to trace a custom template on butcher paper. (If you still have the old cushion cover, you can send that instead.) Several weeks later the cushion arrived. The bill? An amazingly low $99.

The next step is the fun part. My wife and I added some throw pillows we already had on hand, tossed some colorful branches from the yard into a vase, and voil?! We had an instant outdoor room.

This is an easy way to get nice furniture without spending a bundle. Once the shipping and sales tax were added for the cushion, plus the cost of the string and paint, I invested less than $150. Look for similar pieces at flea markets and yard sales. As an added bonus, you'll get a great sense of satisfaction in doing a project yourself.

Someday my wife will believe me when I say "that piece of trash might be our next treasure."

"One fabulous makeover" is from the September 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.