Outdoor Rooms on a Budget
By Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP®, Owner, Sensational Home Staging

Summer is the time to enjoy being outside in the warmth and sunshine.  Creating an outdoor room does not have to be expensive - and requires only a few simple steps.

1. Define the space you want to use as your outdoor room.  It could be on your deck or in the yard.  Consider natural shade in this space.  What is your "floor" and what is your ceiling? If you don't have a patio for the "floor" you can use your grass or even put down gravel to create a "floor" that will withstand traffic.
2.  Incorporate any natural overhang or canopies such as trees or branches, or use the sky as your ceiling.  An inexpensive pergola or gazebo works for this feature, or you can buy a more sturdy framed option.  If you live in an area where wind can be a challenge, whatever you decide on should be able to withstand high winds or else be able to be dismantled relatively easily should the weather change.  The last thing you want is to see your outdoor room flying across the yard.

3.  "Frame" your space by positioning objects such as large planters at the 4 corners or tiki torches at the corners.  Your outdoor space can be right next to the house and you can incorporate the wall, or it can be free-standing in the yard.

4.  Place your furniture in a conversational grouping with a centerpiece item of a table or fire pit.  Get some larger chairs or even a setee for this space.  Outdoor weather wicker is great for outdoor spaces and there are lots of options for inexpensive furniture.  Two of my favorite places to buy outdoor sets at reasonable prices are Target and Walmart.

5.  Fabric is your way of making this outdoor room come to life.  Get some colorful cushions or accent pillows that can withstand the elements.  If you truly want to harmonize the outdoors with the interior of your home, get pillows in the same colors.  Don't see the colors or patterns you like in the stores?  You can purchase weather resistant fabric at any fabric store as well as pillows that can be covered easily.

If you have a pergola or way to hang fabric, you can actually "frame" in "walls" of this outdoor room with anything from canvas to sheer billowy fabric.  Use tension rods to support the fabric if you use a pergola or gazebo and have the option of having the fabric open or closed for privacy.

6.  Hang interesting things like Chinese lanterns or wind chimes.  Create a fun ambiance with touches of oudoor decor.  Bring out candles and set them in votives or jars on the surfaces of your outdoor room.  Candle glow is relaxing and even romantic outside.

7.  You can use wrought iron tall shepherd hooks to hang things if you don't have trees or branches to use.  String white lights to create a twinkly effect but be mindful of cords and safety of electricity used outside.

8.  Add warmth by using a fire pit in the space or consider getting a propane heater.  Not only will this add height and substance with a large item, it adds needed warmth when the summer night cool off.

9.  Now that your room is set up - think about having a party!  Get some fun, inexpensive acrylic plates and glasses in a festive summer pattern.  Get tumblers, a pitcher and plates - and eat your dinner in your new outdoor room!  Or just enjoy your escape from the ordinary and relax in your outdoor space.

JUNE 2010!
Outdoor Spaces on A Budget

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