Quick + Chic Outdoor Decorating Tips

Discover these stylish decorating ideas for creating an outdoor room full of seasonal charm — without breaking the bank.

By: Kathy Wilson

  1. Design 101
Outdoor Dining Area with Wood Table and Red Chairs

Add Inexpensive Touches to Dress Up Outdoor Spaces

Almost any outdoor space can be turned into an outdoor room that reflects your style, whether patio, deck or concrete. But "before you begin decorating, you should consider how you'll use your outdoor space," says Lourdes Dumke, author of How to Decorate & Furnish Your Apartment on a Budget and The Thrifty Decorating Blog.

Will you be using your room for entertaining, relaxing or dining? Take note of weather changes and if the spot is sunny, shady, windy, etc. Do you need waterproof and sun-resistant materials, or an umbrella or other shelter? Once you've figured out the basics, you're ready to create your outdoor room.

Make It Private

Outdoor rooms require structure just as an indoor room to help provide intimacy and comfort. Some money-saving solutions for adding "walls" include: anchoring a wooden trellis in a large planter and hanging small pots of colorful flowers throughout; attaching sheer fabric panels to porch overhangs with metal hoops and hooks; or propping a reclaimed garden gate behind a bench or against a deck railing.

Outdoor Furniture Options

Furnishing an outdoor room can quickly add up, but using creativity and some elbow grease will save your budget. "Visit flea markets and find inexpensive furniture to paint or otherwise repurpose," Dumke says. Colorful spray paints are great for plastic furniture and don't require priming. Dress up other pieces with slipcovers and outdoor fabric pillows.

Mood Lighting

Often, outdoor rooms are used during the evening so providing lighting needs to be considered. But you don't have to pay for an expensive lighting system to light up your garden, yard or patio.

Reuse Christmas lights to add interesting, subtle lighting to an outdoor room. Dumke also suggests candles, oil torch lamps and even solar panels. If the space gets a lot of light during the day, install solar lighting that collects sunlight during the day and comes on at night.

Outdoor Accessories

Accessories are the jewelry of any room, including outdoor rooms. Being creative can keep costs low, while allowing you to place a personal stamp on your outdoor space. "Use color — in paint, flowers, fabric. And go to the dollar store. It's a treasure trove of inexpensive items you can use to decorate your space. Pots, bowls, garden ornaments, baskets and lanterns can be found for under $5," says Pamela Cole Harris, HomeandGardenMakeover.com writer and decor recycler.

If you don't want to purchase an outdoor rug, paint a faux rug on a patio floor using stencils and ordinary house paint. Seal with polyurethane for a long lasting accent. Or, create it on a canvas runner instead so it's portable. In her home, Dumke spent a few dollars on a brick stencil and paint, and created a faux-brick look on the concrete floor. She added lots of inexpensive, weather-resistant items to the room, like candles, sap buckets and even some artwork on the brick wall.

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