Patty DeFelice was an innovator in the restoration industry and is now the go-to resource for all things patio furniture!

Lacey: I am so excited to learn how you got your start in this industry. Patty’s Portico is a family-owned business. Tell us more! 

Patty: After earning my Master’s Degree in Education, my dad, who owned an auto body shop in Greenwich, had a heart attack. I offered to fill in for him during his recovery, and remained for over 25 years. Operating the body shop, I learned all about metal restoration. One of my favorite customers asked me to refinish his wrought iron patio furniture with car paint. I thought it was a challenging request, but it turned out successful! 

After that, I placed an ad in the classified section of the local Greenwich newspaper (back then, there was no social media) and received a favorable response. I picked up furniture in my Dodge Colt wagon and researched alternatives to liquid car paint.  It was then that I found powder coating to be the way of the future. 

In 1995, I leased a site in Port Chester, NY, to open Patty’s Portico and have been operating there ever since. 

Vintage Molla Tubular Faux Bamboo Dining Set – Available on Town & Sea

Lacey: You have a wealth of knowledge about all patio furniture brands, including Molla, Woodard, Salterini, and Brown Jordan. Tell us what you love about these brands and what your favorite is. Is there a brand that you believe has stayed true to its brand image and quality throughout the years?

Patty: What I love about these brands is their quality, classic style, and, no doubt, their comfort. Brown Jordan is a well-known brand and has been powder-coating their patio furniture for decades. The company began in 1945 and is still going strong. Woodard and Tropitone are also still manufacturing quality goods. 

In my opinion, the older, the better when it comes to patio furniture. Today, most furniture is mass-produced with no attention to comfort or scale. Lumbar back support, consideration of where your knees hit when you sit down; they made it in accordance with your lifestyle, with comfort and attention to detail. Vintage is the way to go. It’s more economical, and Patty’s Portico can make it as good as new. Sit down, have a glass of wine, and chat all night. 

Lacey: Can you remember the first patio set you purchased for your home? Have you refurbished and kept it? 

Patty: A favorite of mine, Italian designer John B. Salterni, produced top-of-the-line wrought iron patio sets. I have collected Salterini for years and have a beautiful set on my deck in a bronze finish. All of my outdoor patio furniture, including my cast iron planters, is second-hand or refurbished. I’ve had my Salterini set for three decades, and I’ll never part with it. It’s rare, and it’s something I’ll keep and pass on.

Vintage Refurbished Salterini Dining Set – Available on Town & Sea
Vintage Salterini Wrought Iron Dining Set – Available on Town & Sea

Lacey: I can remember my family’s Brown Jordan pink vinyl strapped chairs and bubbled glass table that we had in California. It brings back such happy memories of Laguna Beach…What do you love about a vinyl-strapped chair? Can you tell us about your favorite restoration of a retro look made new for modern day?

Patty: I also am a fan of the vinyl-strapped aluminum furniture. Vintage Brown Jordan and Tropitone pieces offer a streamlined design. The vinyl lacing is durable and very comfortable with no need for cushions to withstand the test of time. I do tons of business at my shop for this market because it is classic and comfortable, and the aluminum frame is lighter weight but doesn’t blow away and can be easily stored. Brown Jordan is actually discontinuing this line, so the older vintage pieces are going to become even more special for the consumer. 

Vintage Brown Jordan Quantum Dining Set, Original Condition – Available on Town & Sea

What I find also very popular and what requires the least maintenance is the Brown Jordan and Tropitone sling material. It looks like a fabric that doesn’t require any cushion, dries fast, is easy to replace if you get a rip, and it’s very affordable! And then you have it for another 10-15 years. 

There is so much value to repurposing and recycling vintage patio furniture – I love it when something comes in rusted over so much that it’s almost unrecognizable. It’s a total makeover. Customers come in saying, “No way! That’s not my furniture.” That satisfaction is why I’m in this business.

Lacey: Let’s chat about teak and wrought iron. Teak has certainly been a popular material, but wrought iron has always been around and sought after. What do you appreciate about wrought iron patio furniture? I’m searching for a space to add pebble stone and one of these beautiful Salterini pieces. It feels so inviting and romantic! Is wrought iron the lead material in your mind? 

Vintage Brown Jordan Tamiami Dining Set with Sled Chairs and Drinks Tables – Available on Town & Sea

Patty: Teak will always stay in style, and we refurbish that too! It always comes in with moss and lichen. Once it’s removed and restored it comes back to its original state. Teak furniture is like a teak boat; you have to maintain it to keep it up, but once it’s restored, all you need is annual cleaning and oiling.  Elbow grease is the best, and that’s what we provide. 

Mid-century wrought iron is as popular as teak, and definitely as of late with the younger generations. Wrought iron is popular again because it doesn’t take up a lot of space and makes for a quaint setting, with no need for cushions and minimal care, and is designed to be left outside. Mine has been outside for 18 years, and it looks like new. Every once in a while, a liquid turtle wax with a cleaner in it, but I never power wash it and wouldn’t recommend it.

Lacey: Brown Jordan recently partnered with four amazing designers at the 2024 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach. The color palettes were dreamy. Ariel Okin showcased beautiful vignettes of Brown Jordan in white and tonal green. Do you take note of these trends and bring them to life with your clients and their purchased vintage pieces?

Patty: As far as color trends, classic white in the wrought iron, always, and a midnight black satin sheen and classic garden green too. When Martha Stuart was here she chose a true gray, very neutral that pairs well with reds, pinks, etc. Bronze has also become popular, a statuary black bronze. It’s softer than a stark black. 

Mid-century modern design is also so popular right now, refinished in fabulous colors like a french blue or a bright orange. People love to customize their furniture and that’s what’s so fantastic about purchasing vintage. You can restore it to your taste. 

An antique English trough in the Sawyer | Berson–designed garden. Woodard outdoor furniture; sculpture by Alma Allen. Photo Cred: Architectural Digest

The Tamiami collection from Brown Jordan is a strapped style that is highly sought after. There is one available now on Town & Sea! In 2015, they debuted classics in a rainbow of new colors. Personally, I love seeing my customers choose a neutral metallic color with a charcoal gray strap.

“In 1961 outdoor furnishings brand Brown Jordan debuted the Tamiami chair, an aluminum frame with crisscrossing vinyl straps that felt made for a Slim Aarons photograph. Now, in celebration of the company’s 70th anniversary, this midcentury staple and other Brown Jordan classics will be offered in a rainbow of new colors. From hot pink to highlighter yellow, the seven bright hues add a bit of punch to any pool, terrace, or grassy lawn.” – Excerpt from Architectural Digest

Lacey: Martha Stewart has taken quite a liking to your business. Tell us how you and Martha met? And how did you help Martha? We need to know all about Martha’s patio set!

Patty: Martha Stewart recently requested our services for the restoration of mid-century modern patio furniture that she found in a tag sale. She came in herself with 3 truckloads to choose a color we call Bedford Gray. She loved our restoration process so much that she featured Patty’s Portico on her blog, which has over one billion followers! A lot of neighbors and people who work for Martha started to come, some with clients of their own- definitely an uptick of designers. It gave our business an endorsement of what we can do. 

Martha Stewart’s mid-century patio furniture before & after, restored and powder coated in “Bedford Grey” by Patty’s Portico

Lacey: Patty Portico is known for its powder coating. Can you tell us about this process? What makes it unique? What would you say a powder coating offers a vintage patio set? 

Patty: Powder Coating is a type of coating that is applied electrostatically as a dry powder and then cured under heat. The heat melts the powder to encapsulate the frame. It creates a tough finish that is more durable than conventional liquid paint. Powder coating offers thousands of colors, metallics, pastels, textures, mattes, semi-gloss and gloss finishes. The beauty of it is you can leave it outdoors without any rust damage. Winter storage and seasonal cleaning are always key. Come into Patty’s Portico, and we can clean it for you!

Lacey: Lastly, regarding the consigned pieces on Town and Sea, what do you hope people love about the pieces offered? Do you envision a certain piece being recoated or in a certain setting? I imagine it is hard to let some of these pieces go! I can’t wait to see for myself where our #TownandSeaWins live on. 

Patty: I also collect vintage outdoor and garden furniture, which I sell. I hope the community will see the beauty of vintage and learn to appreciate its quality. We are here to help turn rusty old pieces into treasures. Many of the sets we restore have been handed down in the family. There is nothing like the happy feeling of remembering how it felt as a child visiting your grandmother and sitting on the porch sipping a cool glass of homemade lemonade!

We couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much, Patty!
~ Lacey

Be sure to check out our fully restored Salterini Patio Sets from Patty’s Portico, now available on The Reserve at Town & Sea along with many more treasures to update your patio, portico, poolside or porch!