The 4 Point 8 Hour Challenge

By Kate Riley May 14, 2009

You’ve all heard of the Better Homes & Gardens 48 Hour Challenge, right?  It’s where five top bloggers were chosen to makeover their porch in 48 hours with a $500 gift card from Home Depot, at the chance of winning a $5,000 bonus. Today was Mr. CG’s birthday, so while the tots stayed a bit late at school, for his birthday I spent 4.8 hours redoing the outdoor balcony he shares with his male business partners.  Yes, you heard me, four point eight hours!  I was entrusted with the job and given the same budget of $500 from the office, and all of my purchases came from Home Depot as well.

Here’s the CHALLENGE:  $500 budget from the office.  300 square feet of barren balcony, except for a few pieces of neutral furniture.  Four point eight hours (before the kids need picked up from school).

First things first, two rugs to define the seating areas.  At Home Depot, I purchased two 5×7 outdoor rugs for $59 each.  Then I also purchased one can of spray paint for $4.  With a bit of painter’s tape, I gave the neutral outdoor rugs a dark red band around the edge.  I also purchased some red and tan patterned pillows for $13 each to accent the loveseat and the chairs.

Next, I purchased some  deep red fiberglass planters for $39 each, and some plants to fill them.  I chose bamboo plants ($20 each) and a dwarf palm ($15).  I topped them off with ‘borrowed’ river rocks from the gigantic supply in the rock garden on the first floor.   River rocks on top of soil help make great mulch.

Then I created a mini garden in a $12 pot with $1 succulents, some aloe vera, and a red blooming cactus.  I also added the rock fountain from the office’s interior, and my own rock sculpture (that’s just river stones stacked on top of one another).

The business partners were very pleased with the transformation.




The deep red adds the necessary burst of color.  The river rocks and bamboo add “zen” as well as the succulents garden.  The rugs, planters and pillows unite the whole space, and it was all done for less than $500 and in less than five hours.  Rugs and paint = $123; Plants = $90; Planters and Soil = $130; Adirondack chairs and 6 pillows = $104; Bird Feeders and Nectar = $13.  Total without tax = $460





  1. The transformation is amazing. Love what you did with the rugs and how you used the river rocks to dress up the planters. All of the pops of red are perfect. I want some of those red Adirondack chairs. Where did you find them?

  2. I am beyond impressed!! I always forget that you can paint rugs, and I am totally loving your transformation! The red was the perfect color to balance that beautiful green view.

  3. Hi. I found your post through a Google Alert I have set up for “succulents”. Just want to say that I love this space you created…love the red. (AND the golf balls)…fantastic! Hope to see our umbrella next week!

  4. Love all the red! I’m amazed that you were able to all of that with just $500! Very inspiring!

  5. Now that is impressive! I’d love to take on a challenge like that. Although, I’d rather have the $500 for a room in my own house! :) Great job!

  6. You are a decorating force to be reckoned with. I love red as the accent color choice.

  7. I cannot believe you accomplished all this in under 5 hours. Way to go girl!! It looks fantastic!

    And I can’t wait to see the blog makeover! I’ve been itching for one myself. Did you DIY or do you have a source? Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!

  8. Fantastic job!! I think outdoor spaces can often be extremely difficult, but you managed to pull it all together well – and on the cheap to boot.

  9. I think it looks wonderful. I also think Mr. CG is having a fabulous birthday, who wouldn’t be with a beautiful balcony with a beautiful view. :)

  10. How fun – I love the red and I’m not usually a “red” type of person. Beautiful.

  11. LOVE the touches of red! And those pillows too! You did a great job! It makes me want to whip our deck into shape bad!!!

  12. Girl, I am laughing at how rediculous-fast and creative you are. I can just see the tape fast-motion. Awesome job. You need your own TV show.

  13. WAY TO GO!!! That is an outstanding make-over and I can’t believe how fast you did it, Congrats!!

    I never knew you could spray paint a rug, this open up a whole new world of painting projects ;-)

  14. I wish I had that view from my office – especially with all the new trimmings!! Great job!!

  15. Hi! This may sound like a dumb question, but where did you get the river rock? I need some flat rocks for a project, and I don’t have the slightest idea where to buy it. (I looked at Home Depot and Lowes… that’s the extent of my garden supply knowledge.)

  16. Jans, you can usually buy the river rocks at a Garden Center or Landscape Soil Rock Garden Center. They are gorgeous. I have small ones but I want the larger size they are so nice and attractive from a distance. The Rug is a spring project for me, I love it.

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