Ideas & Inspiration
Outdoor Living Spaces on a Budget
The outdoors beckon during the spring and summer months, but sometimes it can be difficult to leave the comfort and convenience of our houses. Outdoor rooms mix the best of both environments, allowing you to enjoy your backyard while providing a luxurious social space.
While it’s certainly possible to design elaborate and expensive outdoor rooms, assembling one on a budget doesn’t have to be a challenge. With some forethought, you can design a space you’ll love without breaking the bank.
Start by asking yourself three questions, and write down your answers as a reminder.
- How much space can you commit? You might want to leave room in your yard for other undomesticated activities.
- What activities do you want to use the space for? Maybe you’d like to build an outdoor kitchen, a space for entertaining guests, a play area for the kids, or just a quiet place to read and relax.
- How much money are you willing to spend? This will help you plan your purchases so your outdoor room doesn’t run over budget.
With answers to those three questions in mind, you’ll be prepared to start choosing the right elements for your room.
When working within a budget, planning is key. Sit down with a pen and paper and start playing with numbers. Draw out a floor plan as close to scale as you can, then start looking through catalogs and websites. As you find items you want for your room, have fun placing them in your floor plan so get a sense of how everything might fit together. The remaining steps are all budget items, so add them as headings to your shopping list. The links in each step will take you to the pages for those categories at the Home Depot.
Homes are defined by floors, walls and ceilings. An outdoor living space should be defined the same way. Start from the ground up by choosing the “floor” first. Concrete pavers are one of the most popular and economical outdoor-flooring products. With many styles available, you can create an innovative patio design in any size or shape.
If you plan to spend long leisurely days outdoors, shelter from the sun is important. Patio umbrellas work well, but also consider a canvas-covered sun shelter as a stylish but budget-friendly option.
Installing screens or trellises will help define the space and provide privacy. Build them from scratch if you’re handy, or for convenience check out low-cost prefabricated panels.
Once the basics are in place, have fun dressing up your outdoor living room with affordable accessories. Why not bring the space together with a rug designed for outdoor use? For warmth and to extend the season, consider putting in a fire pit. Enjoy the soothing sound of water by installing an inexpensive freestanding water feature or bird bath.
Proximity to nature is likely part of the reason you wanted an outdoor room in the first place, so be sure to leave room in your budget for a little garden design. Containers filled with flowering annuals provide a continuous riot of color from spring through fall and are excellent value. Bring your walls to life by planting with flowering vines or climbing roses. Also consider low-maintenance succulents, which require very little water. Make your garden glow in the evening with easy-to-install, low-voltage or solar lighting.