Creating Outdoor Rooms from Scratch, on a Budget
by Kathleen Wilson
Creating an outdoor living space is no longer just about increasing property values or impressing the occasional guest. It is about creating a warm, welcoming, nurturing place to come home to. A place that soothes the stress out of daily life, and brings us closer to nature and spirit. And we have to remember that decorating our home should not stop inside our front door! More...
It doesn't have to be
complicated to create your own outdoor haven, and it doesn't have to cost a lot
of money. Follow my step by step instructions to create a personal outdoor space
from even the smallest nook, the tightest budget, and with beginning skills.
Find a spot in your yard
that could provide privacy, a view, warm bathing sun. Whatever most
appeals to you for your special place. This could be as little as your overhang
near your front door, a slice of ground in your side yard, to a corner on top of
your apartment roof. If space is at a premium, look for areas where a shrub
could be removed, or a barbeque stored, or even a privacy screen erected to
provide your "room." A small space is actually easier to decorate, and
In order to give the
sense and security of a "room," you need to provide some structure in
the form of walls. No, this isn't the construction phase. In fact, no
construction is needed for this room, just some creative ideas. Walls can be
created out of a row of planters, existing wood fences or walls, living plants
in the garden, or a lattice panel supported by two posts. These walls need not
be solid structures, just the mere illusion of a wall to stop the eye is enough.
Use the patio or porch structure as your walls, and add potted plants as needed
to create intimacy. Plant a trellis in a rectangular planter with some morning
glories or other fast growing vine and you have portable walls that can easily
be moved to expand, or enclose the space, depending on the occasion or use.
If your special place is away from the walls of porch or house, cement two four
by four posts into the ground with quick setting cement (no mixing required, you
do it right in the hole!), and attach a simple lattice panel found at your home
Add a floor and ceiling.
Floors in your outdoor room can consist of anything from gravel to decking to
concrete. If your outdoor room just has dirt floors and money is tight, add a
bag of pea gravel or mulch to dress it up. Nylon throw rugs hold up pretty well
to the outdoors if they are out of direct sun, but no fabric will last forever
outdoors, so go for the cheap ones you don't mind throwing away at the end of
the season. If you have concrete floors, paint an area rug right on the concrete.
Use foam brushes, mask out your shape with tape and try to choose natural colors
that go with the surrounding or your home's colors. Use stencils on top of the
base coat for a custom look. Use the chisel edge of the foam brush to tap
"fringe" at the end of each rug. Seal with polyurethane formulated for
outdoors and it should last years!
As far as ceilings go, the sky works for me. If you have an overhead structure, consider growing a fast covering vine for shade and ambience. Morning glories are a great annual that fits the bill. You can also hang light fixtures from beams or hooks. Look for old chandeliers at garage sales you can strip and transform to hold candles instead of electricity.
Now, we need to furnish
the space. Consider what you will be doing in your space. Will you need a table
for dining, will it just be a private retreat for one, or will you be
entertaining guests here? If the area is covered such as a porch or patio, feel
free to bring out some interior items, provided they are not too precious. This
would be a great place for thrift store finds. If all you can afford is the
cheap plastic stuff, never fear. Krylon makes a new spray paint called Fusion
that adheres to plastic without priming. Use that to customize your colors, then
add accessories to dress it up.
The best fun there is,
accessorizing! There is no reason to treat your outdoor room much different from
the indoor ones, except you have to make allowances for weather. Benches and
seats cry out for fluffy pillows and cozy throws for those cool nights out star
watching. Outdoor fabric is available, but I just use cheap twin sheets on sale,
and stitch up accessories I don't have to stress about. (Hint: Use ties for your
pillows if you live in an area with wind!) Candles are ideal, or you can make
your own fire pit by simply lining a debris free area with sand or gravel, then
edging it with stone or bricks. Remember to NEVER leave a fire unattended, and
always have a water source nearby. Make papier-mâché sculptures and coat with
linseed oil to waterproof them, and use them on tabletops or hang from ceiling
beams. Containers of plants gathered in corners, wind chimes from the dollar
shop hung off a branch, and my favorite, birdhouses, are affordable and ideal
for outdoors. I pick up wooden birdhouses from the craft shop and decorate them
myself in different themes, then cluster them on tables, or hang them in groups
on garden walls.
The key here is to remember that creating a space to enjoy Mother Nature is not only easy, it can be inexpensive and fun! We all need that time to absorb what the outdoors has to offer us, and no one should, or needs to be deprived of that based on there income.
* * *
Copyright © 2005 by Kathleen Wilson. All rights reserved.
Budget Decorating Article Index
Want more money-saving tips? Get a FREE Subscription to our monthly newsletter!