We have a screened in porch on the back of our house. When building we went back and forth on adding it on as it was quite expensive and completely unnecessary. I have to say that it has constantly been one of our favorite "rooms," and my husband and I have often said it was "well worth the money."
As soon as the weather is nice, we start heading out there for our dinners. When the kids finish, they can swing on the playset and we can easily see them while we relax over the rest of our meals. I often take prep work (snapping peas, peeling apples, etc.) out there to do while the kids play.
However, after a few years of use, things were looking a little sad. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money because, well, it is a screened in porch - all the elements hit it. And, I'm not interested in running out there every time it rains to bring everything inside. So, instead of a big overhaul, I made a few small touches that made all the difference!
My table and chairs are old (eleven years old). However, they still work just fine, so I don't want to rush out and replace them. The cushions (blue and white striped) are pretty sad. So, I just turned them over! On the backside is a nice chambray blue - still in great condition. I purchased a clearance circular placemat at Kohl's for less than $1 and used it in the center of the table to cover the hole for the umbrella. On that I placed a simple candleholder I had on hand and filled it up with shells. I think I'll change the centerpiece to something more fall like this week when I do the rest of the house.
In one corner is a chest to hold the cushions in the winter. I left that there as it's useful and weather resistant. The other corner is bare, but I think I'll stick a simple small table to hold drinks or condiments while we eat. On the wall connected to the house, I'm on the lookout (on Craigslist and garage sales) for a baker's rack. I can use it to house all the kids sand and outside toys in a few simple boxes. That will clean up the toy clutter while keeping them handy.
I strung up some decorative lighting and in the evening we can use that to eat by. Finally, I cleaned up my herb garden (which is right out front of the porch), put stepping stones made by the kids in it and new plant markers (made with free paint, paint sticks and sharpies).
Eventually I'd like to tile the porch and add a rug under the table, but I'm waiting until the kids are a bit older and not running through the room constantly with dirty feet.
So, aside from a few items I need to purchase when I find a good deal on them, it's done and looks great. Oh, and so far I've only spent $1!