Design Budgeting 101: Outdoor Rooms

Professional designers know how to stretch a buck. Joan Grabel and Katie Z. Leavy share some of their best ideas for decorating an outdoor space for less.

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Grabel-color-porch Paint the front door, and add a matching set of chairs for budget pop. Design by Joan Grabel.

Question: What are your favorite decorating tips?

Joan's favorite tips involve moving or refurbishing existing pieces. “Rearrange furniture; add pillows; move planters," she says. "Transplant to have a harmonious plant design; look inside your home and see what will work outside, and paint something you have outside to give it a new look."

Grabel-color-porchLook for existing plants that are hidden in your yard. Transplant them, and add accent light. Design by Joan Grabel.

"Outdoor sculpture and focal water features will surely get a bang for the buck," Katie says. "Large plants and grasses with uplighting will also act as sculpture, adding interest and natural beauty to all settings. Once you determine your focal point, break up large outdoor spaces by varying landscape materials such as colorful gravels, natural and synthetic pavers; flagstones and refined wood chips; and planted beds.

Grabel-color-porchAdd stones to a garden landscape to create texture. Design by Joan Grabel.

"Drapery panels will add drama and softness to exterior and lanai spaces as well," Katie adds. "Use full-height panels of breezy, lightweight fabrics on weatherproof metal structures to frame and define exterior 'rooms.' Keep an open mind about what qualifies as 'artwork.' Architectural salvage, metal components, maritime accessories and wall-hung planters will all add unique interest and a finished feel to your outdoor rooms."

Grabel-color-porchDreaming of an outdoor kitchen? Start a savings account, and plan to tackle the project DIY-style. Design by Katie Z. Leavy.

See more of Joan Grabel's and Katie Z. Leavy's work in Designers' Portfolio.

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