One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Dingy Screened Porch Gets a Cozy, Inviting Spruce-Up for $850

published Jun 12, 2023
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Dark painted screened in porch before renovation

The One Room Challenge is a nationwide eight-week room renovation and blog challenge, in which intrepid DIYers can do small (or large!) DIYs to transform a room in their home, and that “room” isn’t necessarily limited to the indoors. This year, a few DIYers made over their balconies, patios, and porches, including Rachel Schoemer (@well_shetried).

Before, Rachel and her husband, Andrew’s, screened porch was brown and beat-up. “The walls were a dark brown, and the flooring was an old dingy brown carpet,” Rachel says. “The screen door was bent and old with holes in the actual screens. The walls and ceiling had paint chipping away, and the recessed lights were falling out of their holes.”

The only thing Rachel and Andrew liked about the space was its view of the backyard. They wanted to make it a light, bright, and airy space to hang out semi-al fresco and soak in the views. “I wanted to feel like I was in nature while still being able to keep the bugs out!” Rachel says. In other words, she wanted an indoor-outdoor living hybrid.

“I knew I needed to create a space that could be as comfortable as a living room while also embracing the outdoors,” Rachel adds. Her first step in achieving this goal was painting the place; she sanded the walls above the paneling to get the peeling paint off, and then she painted the walls white (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace) and the trim and paneling a khaki-ish green (Benjamin Moore’s Soft Fern). 

“Paint alone gave this space new life, but I knew there was still a long way to go,” Rachel says. Next, she worked on upgrading the ceiling. She and Andrew added budget-friendly beadboard panels and new trim overhead using liquid nails, a brad nailer, and T-braces, and they replaced the old lights with LED ones. “The new ceiling is the biggest impact in the space,” Rachel says — and it wasn’t even something she’d originally planned on.

“I had intended to sand the ceiling and paint it,” Rachel explains. “Unfortunately, the previous home owners had painted the ceiling with interior paint. It had absorbed too much moisture and was flaking off all over. I tried sanding it, but I couldn’t get it smooth. After spending over six hours trying to get all of the old paint off, I threw in the towel and opted to just cover it up, and I am SO HAPPY I did.” 

Now, it’s her favorite part of the “after.” “I am absolutely smitten with the beadboard ceiling,” Rachel says. “It gives our home a farmhouse feel, which I love.”

Removing the dingy carpeting to reveal decking underneath helped improve the space, too, and Rachel freshened up the flooring with paint and filled in the gaps between the deck boards with backer rod to keep bugs out. (That’s why she believes the previous homeowners added carpeting in the first place.) 

Other DIYs on the porch include a hand-built cabinet to conceal the TV, a fishing rod holder, and flower boxes, all of which were cut from 6-foot cedar fence boards. “These boards gave the porch a rustic look while also being super cost-effective,” Rachel says. “Making the fishing rod holder turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.”

For that fishing rod holder, Rachel used three boards all the same size and drilled four 1 1/2-inch holes into one of the boards. She nailed the board with holes in it to a solid board so the fishing rods would have a place to rest. “For the top piece, I then used a jigsaw to cut a channel from the front of the board to the holes,” Rachel says. She mounted both top and bottom pieces to the wall, and she was done.

“I started the ORC thinking I was going to keep the furniture I had,” Rachel says, and she even spent a week or two trying to give some of her old stuff a facelift, but she eventually decided to find new (to her) pieces. “I purchased the new porch furniture off Facebook Marketplace versus buying new,” she says. 

All told, she’s created a cozy, bright, outdoor living space. “This space is now comfortable to sit in!” Rachel says. “Whether it’s to read a book, watch TV or have a glass of wine, it feels bright and clean.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.