Design Budgeting 101: Outdoor Rooms
Colorful Outdoor Dining Room With Yellow Pergola
Paint a pergola and other architectural elements a bright color. Add coordinating Spanish tile to one wall to bring everything together. Design by Joan Grabel.
Decorating beautifully on a budget can be challenging. We asked top designers how they stretch their clients' budgets.
Question: If a DIY decorator had only $100 to beautify an outdoor space, what would you suggest he or she buy to get the biggest bang for their buck?
Katie Z. Leavy, owner of Capital Design LLC, says, "A brightly colored market umbrella."
Question: What should you not buy with $100? “Tacky yard ornaments like gnomes,” Katie says.
Landscape designer Joan Grabel, owner of Park Slope Design, says, "Do not buy things that have a short life span or that do not enhance the style that you are going for, or that is small and will not be noticed."
Question: If a DIY decorator had $500 to beautify an outdoor space, what would you suggest he or she buy to get the biggest bang for their buck?
Joan suggests “buying three to five fabulous, large planters with large plant materials that correspond with the look you are going for. Have a theme.”
With a $500 budget, Katie says, "There are some wonderful outdoor fabrics that can be made into cushions, pillows and tablecloths that will add a great splash of color to your space. Investing in a set of transitionally styled planters is smart as well," she says. "Plants can be changed out seasonally and your planters will last forever."
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."
"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.
"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."