If you’re looking to spruce up or revitalize your outdoor living space without breaking the bank, I’m here to show you just how. The key isn’t the amount you spend but the strategic choices you make.
With a little planning, creativity, and DIY spirit, you can create a cozy, comfortable, and functional space so you can make countless memories with your loved ones.
Let’s start with your budget: Consider the 4 F’s
With a limited budget, it’s best to first start with the bigger ticket items. For an outdoor space, these big-ticket items are flooring, furniture, fencing, and a fire pit or fireplace. Consider which of these you need or want the most.
If you’re starting from scratch without a deck or patio, the first move is to establish a foundation for your outdoor space. Budget-friendly options include pressure-treated lumber, concrete pavers, or gravel.
While more expensive choices like composite decking, artificial grass, or interlocking deck tiles exist, you can cut costs by opting for oversized concrete slabs or pavers. Arrange them in a non-traditional pattern, leaving spaces of grass in between for a touch of old English charm that also minimizes the material needed.
Already have a fence, or are you not bothered by neighbors? Great, you’ve saved on fencing. For budget-friendly privacy, consider a partial fence or lattice as a barrier to part of your outdoor space. Alternatively, craft a privacy wall using repurposed pallets and hanging planters for a touch of greenery and style, achieving separation and aesthetic appeal.
Choose one piece of furniture as an investment – and bargain shop the rest.
Fire Pits and Fireplaces
If a fire pit or fireplace is necessary for your space, you can build your own fire pit or buy one from your local home improvement store or an online marketplace.
Now that you’ve figured out your budget let’s decorate the rest of the space with these low-cost ideas for your outdoor living area.
Repurpose and Reuse
Before buying anything, shop your home first (and maybe the homes of your relatives and friends!). Look through your house, attic, basement, and garage to find items or furniture to use outside. A fresh coat of paint and imagination can bring new life to old items. Wood pallets, reclaimed wood, concrete, or cinder blocks can be transformed into a table.
You can maximize your budget by choosing furniture that serves multiple purposes. Benches can serve as seating as well as storage. Folding tables and chairs can be easily moved around, stacked away, or brought out when more space is needed. Multi-tiered plant stands can hold plants, dinnerware, or an outdoor speaker. Just ensure your furniture is durable and can stand up in outdoor conditions.
Consider including an umbrella or awning, pergola, or shade sails in your design for sunny months or hotter climates. While these may be a bigger budget item, they extend your enjoyment of the outdoors.
If you have a raised or second-story deck, you could spruce up two outdoor living spaces – one up and one down – and make the downstairs space waterproof. By waterproofing the ceiling (the underside area of the deck flooring above you), you can make the area under the deck usable during inclement weather. This space under your deck can become another living space, an outdoor kitchen, or even a place for a hot tub!
Your outdoor space can get a boost and show off your personal flair with carefully selected décor. Thrift shops, garage sales, online marketplaces, or discount retailers are the perfect spots to find outdoor treasures such as lanterns, garden sculptures, flowerpots, windchimes, cushions, and birdfeeders.
The right lighting creates a welcoming, festive, and cozy atmosphere. Cost-effective options include string lights, lanterns, or pathway lights. Solar-powered lights serve the dual purpose of enhancing your space while not impacting your electric bill.
Pro tip: Before selecting lighting, check the lifespan of the bulbs and the expense of replacing them.
Take advantage of natural elements. Create walkways with gravel or stepping stones. Use plants to form borders around your living area. Consider a water feature using a container, a pump, and rocks. Succulents, cacti, or other low-maintenance plants don’t require much care or water, but they add beauty and warmth to your space.
Creating an outdoor living space on a budget can be a fun way to express your creativity and personality while keeping a check on your hard-earned dollars. By following these budget-friendly tips, your space can be comfortable, stylish, and the perfect backdrop for years of enjoyment and memories.
Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.