From Dull to Delightful – Painting a Curbside Rug

by Katy on June 21, 2015 · 33 comments


If you like a good before-and-after, then today’s your day! Why? Because this is the before of my front porch. Yes, it’s from a few years ago, but it’s cluttered and unattractive enough to make the inevitable after nice and dramatic.

Porch before-before

Actually, it’s the before that came with this after, when I scored a Goodwill outdoor couch and chair for a budget friendly $40. Also it’s from a few years ago. (Three years ago, to be exact.)

I want you to notice the “rug” in front of the couch. It’s a $1 carpet sample that I picked up at a garage sale. The proportion is hilariously off.

Here’s another view, from before I fixed up this great table using a $2 piece of Goodwill fabric.

Porch before 2

But I came across a rolled up rug that someone had set out for free a few weeks ago. Nothing special, just an industrial nap with a decidedly non-natural fiber. But it was free, so what did I care? It was slightly grubby, so I hauled out my Bissell rug shampooer and freshened it up. My initial plan was to tape off an elaborate Greek key pattern for a border, and even went to far as to graph it out. But then I came to my senses. A dozen hours of snipping precise pieces of tape might drain my already waning sanity.

Greek key plan

So I taped off two concentric rectangles, which was much more within my mathematical skill set. At this point you may be noticing that I’m using duct tape instead of precious blue low-tac tape. Why? Because that tape is designed for use on delicate painted walls, and this is a seriously indestructible rug. Plus, I had a roll of oddly warped duct tape that I pulled from a free box a few years ago.

I didn’t want to spend any money on this project.

Taping off the rug

I went and shopped my basement, and chose a no-VOC forest green paint that was leftover from painting our entryway. It probably would’ve been faster to use a small paint roller, but I couldn’t find a paint tray, so I used a regular paintbrush. It took more paint than I anticipated, as the rug really soaked up the paint, but the gallon was almost full so this was not a problem.

painting the rugIn all, the project took probably took an hour-and-a-half, including trips to the kitchen to refill my ice tea glass.

And here’s the finished product! Simple, yet elegant. I actually think that the Greek key design would have looked overwrought and fussy in this small space.

Porch - after 1

Here’s another view of the porch, which shows how my free-pile “Swift” crate fits perfectly under the table.

Porch - after 2

The only things I paid for in this seating area are the couch and matching chair. $40 total. This is once again a situation where having a limited budget, or frankly no budget is not so much a barrier as it is a benefit. It exercises my creative mindset to create the look I want. And it keeps otherwise under-appreciated items out of the landfill.

And now, I’m off to enjoy a lovely cup of tea on the porch.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy June 21, 2015 at 10:38 am

Lovely outcome, Katy!! You’re so lucky to have a covered spot for some light refreshments, and not the high heat, humidity and thunderstorms were enjoying(?)in St. Louis!
Your posts are a continuous source of inspiration as my husband and I live in a rental house while getting our dream home built! Thank you!


hippierunner June 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

Moving out of my family home & into a tiny house with my boyfriend. Furnishing it from scratch & using your DIY posts as inspiration! I love the before and afters! Yesterday I used Craigslist ‘free’ section to find a nearby yard sale & purchased a tall bookshelf & a large round mirror for $4. All I have to do is paint the mirror frame to fit my style. 🙂


Diane June 21, 2015 at 11:11 am

Looks super, Katy! I noticed your couch and chair appear to be wrought iron. What sort of spray paint do you recomment for freshening up wrought iron? I want to make my old patio table and chairs look new!


Katy June 21, 2015 at 11:22 am

They are fake wrought iron. (Some kind of aluminum is my guess, as they’re light as a feather.)

I don’t think you can get the wrong kind of spray paint. Although I’m a fan of the paint-plus-primer in one. Just ask at the hardware store.


Marilyn June 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

The whole arrangement looks so inviting. Being creative is so much more fun than just spending money.


Alison June 21, 2015 at 11:58 am

I absolutely love what you have done with this rug! I am shocked you can actually PAINT a rug!
So creative. And your porch looks great.


Katy June 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm

The great thing with doing projects with free supplies is that you can take risks without worrying about wasted money.


Susan June 21, 2015 at 11:58 am

Looks great!


K D June 21, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Another amazing transformation. Thank you for sharing and I hope you enjoyed your tea on the porch.


The Frugal Shrink June 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I love that space- you have really designed it well, especially with a small budget. And the rug turned out beautifully!!


marie June 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm

It does look inviting. Though at my house, my husband would be laying things on the furniture and ruining the tranquillity!!
Great job


Rb June 21, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I hope to do something similar on our porch once we fix/ repair the rotting roof which is sagging significantly. That will NOT be a frugal thing, but necessary at this point to bring in a contractor


brandylovesvintage June 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm

simple sometimes is the best! and, i super adore the green border! greek key design is everywhere, anyway…


Diane June 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

It’s perfect!


lori June 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Wow, looks like a great place to sit and read!


Linda M June 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm



Isabelle June 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm

See, I consider myself frugal to a certain extent, but not THAT kind of frugal (creative), unfortunately. To me, the idea of getting a rug, then apply paint to it is just too much work (yes, I despise manual work that much!). I would end up leaving it plain, and this is why my “decor” is so ordinary I guess….
I now have 4 a-little-rusted outside metal chairs (the kind that you put a big cushion on) I am thinking of throwing out and buying new ones… what would YOU do in my situation??


Katy June 21, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Are they still sturdy? If so I would just buy a couple cans of paint-and-primer-in-one spray paint and freshen them up. Multiple thin layers is the key. The “oil rubbed bronze” is a great color and looks terrific. I did all my mismatched doorknobs and backplates, and they turned out perfectly!


Jane F June 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Also the concentric rectangles is more of a “classic” pattern and is less likely to becomes SO 2010’s like the greek key pattern.


Katy June 22, 2015 at 12:10 am

Good point.


Diane C June 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

Greek Key is a classic pattern that’s been around far longer that five years, hence the name. The thinking that something that was popluar a mere five years ago is “over” is anti-NCA, in my opinion. The secret is to chose classic things you absolutely love, and keep them as close to forever as you can manage. Then blithely ignore those who declare that this thing or that thing is “In” or “Out”. I hope I misunderstood and that this was actually just a joke that sailed over my head.


Jill June 22, 2015 at 6:42 am

Very nice! I never thought of painting a rug before. Nicely done.


Megan June 22, 2015 at 7:37 am

Wow Katy!!! Would never have thought of painting a rug! It looks amazing!!!


Amanda June 22, 2015 at 9:40 am

Love this. I was just at the eye doctor looking at a Southern Living. One article was entitled “the $500 porch renovation.” They were pretty porches, but I would never spend that much money on stuff to sit on my porch. Mine is populated with free cycle furniture and ferns my mama kept from last summer.


Elise @ Simply Scaled Down June 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

I love it!!! Makes me want to drive over to Goodwill and demand they sell me an equally awesome outdoor patio set. I’m sure they’ll agree, right?


Dale Emanuel June 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I have been lucky enough to be on your peaceful porch. Creative, inspiring and darn scrappy are you Katie! Thanks for helping us help others!!!


Kim from Philadelphia June 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

Love the pillow ( and rug from your previous post!)

1) Using our relatively inexpensive township pool membership. It’s nice, clean, and has plenty of shady spots surrounding the pool.
2) made a lemon/chicken/ red pepper recipe last night using lemons that were about to head South. Combined the remnants of 2 little bags of bulk purchased rice to accompany the chicken.
3) our local co-op had a sale on apples for $1.25 a pound- guess what is the only fruit we’ll eat this week ( though the watermelon was tempting but priced too high)
4) found out that our library allows you to “check out” passes to local museums!! We’ll definitely take advantage of those this Summer!
5) had a lovely excursion to Hershey Amusement Park on-the-cheap.
Our local grocery sells deeply discounted tickets. There was also a special June promotion- free parking pass ( worth $15!)
It goes without saying that we packed lunch and drank tap water. Later in the day we split a pizza- the most economical dinner option in the park.


rich September 2, 2015 at 4:38 am

wow, you’ve really transformed those spaces. great paint job too.
I might do something similar for our outdoor spaces.


Elizabeth April 21, 2016 at 3:04 pm

I am awed and inspired by your porch! Love, love, love the painted rug! The whole area is so inviting! You have the wheels turning in my head.

I adore your blogs and all the comments from your readers, too!


Dmarie June 26, 2023 at 12:03 pm

totally love this. thanks for sharing!


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