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How to Create a Welcoming Outdoor Space on a Budget

Today I’m sharing my tips for creating a welcoming outdoor space on a budget using our lake house outdoor spaces as inspiration for planning our new deck and patio design.  

With the summer holidays just over a week away, I’ve definitely had our outdoor spaces on my mind.  We are still knee deep in house projects around here but have made a good amount of progress on the front yard.  The concrete work is all done, the grass has started to sprout (though it’s very patchy), and I’ve got two little front gardens planted.  I’ve also figured out my landscaping design for the main front-of-the-house bed and have purchased the plants.  We’ll get those in the ground on Friday.

We’ve also made a bit of progress on the back deck, but not as much as we had hoped by now.  We’ve ordered fencing and have it being installed within the next week or so.  Once that is done, we can do a bit of touch up landscaping around the perimeter of the yard.  We also managed to find some furniture on a good sale, and have set up the back deck in a functional way.  As we manage to get it further cleaned up and more presentable, I hope to share that space with you later on in the summer.  For now, it’s still kind of in the “working” stage (I.E. there are tools and a tile saw in clear view…).

Outdoor Spaces

With having to start from scratch because we sold all of our outdoor furniture with our previous house I’m definitely conscious of staying on budget with all my design and decor choices for our outdoor space.  So I thought that today I’d share some key lessons that I’ve gleaned from years of setting up various outdoor spaces about how to make them welcoming and inviting without breaking the bank.

How to create a beautiful and welcoming outdoor space on a budget graphic.

Search Blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram for images that inspire you

I’ve shared some of my favourite collections of super inspiring outdoor spaces over the years here,  here and here.  I’m also thrilled today that I’m being joined by over 20 of my blogging friends as part of the Seasonal Simplicity Summer Series who are sharing their outdoor spaces with you.  I know that hopping around to their posts is a great place to start for gaining ideas and inspiration for your outdoor space!  Make sure to check them all out at the bottom of my post.

Decide what purposes you want the space to serve

Do you want a seating area?  A dining area?  A fire pit area?  A barbecue area?  A space for laying out food or drinks for parties?

Think about the size of your space, what you want to achieve in that space, and then be realistic about what purposes your outdoor space can and will serve.   It’s easy to find all kinds of gorgeous backyard inspiration on the web, but you need to remember what size your outdoor space is and then sketch out (on paper!) how you can make it work best for your wants and needs.  Once you’ve sketched it out and figured out what purpose you want it to serve, you can narrow down all the furniture choices much more easily.

We have a fairly good sized deck in our new house, though it is not as large as our old deck.  We are setting it up with a small dining table and then a separate seating area with our fire pit table.  Our previous deck was about 10′ deep and over 50′ long, so it definitely accommodated larger scale furniture.  We had a large outdoor sectional and separate large square outdoor dining table. We chose to put the dining area closest to the sliding glass doors off our kitchen and near our barbecue area, for extra convenience.

A table set for eating on the porch.

An outdoor couch with pillows on it.

Figure out your hardscape

If you don’t have a deck or patio already, then determine what type of hardscape area you wish to create for your outdoor space.  A much more budget friendly option then a traditional wooden deck or a concrete patio is to use patio stones or even just pea gravel to create a patio area.  In our new house, we are working with an existing wooden deck along with some already poured concrete slabs and a patio stone area.  But in our previous home, we used pea gravel to give us the extra space we wanted for a shady fire pit area.

Chairs around a firepit with pillows on them.

If your patio is cracked and damaged, consider a little DIY upgrade.  We gave our lower patio area in our previous house a complete makeover with RustOLeum Stone Effects, and area planning to do something similar around our new pool deck and on the concrete patio adjoining it.

Another project that was really a very affordable DIY but made a huge difference in the “hardscaping” of our outdoor spaces was the addition of the DIY cedar privacy screen on our lower patio area.  It only took a few hours to finish and cost very little in terms of material when compared with the overall effect it gave to our outdoor space.

Adirondack chair on the porch.

Plants Plants Plants

One of the most affordable ways to give your outdoor space a welcoming feel on a budget it with earthy plants!  And you don’t have to go over-the-top with expensive flower baskets.  Some inexpensive and well places ferns are amazing for adding lush greenery.  You can even bring some of your indoor plants outside and use them in the summer (just be careful about the kind of lighting they are exposed to).

Plants on the porch.

Planters on the porch beside the couch.

A plant in a wicker basket on the porch.

Look for sales on key pieces

We recently found a really good sale on some beautiful outdoor furniture pieces for our new deck, and I can’t wait to share that whole space with you once we finish up some other big exterior projects that we have underway (perhaps you’ve seen some hints at them in my Instagram stories lately?).  Just like with our previous deck furniture, we watched carefully and then purchased our largest items on sale and it made a big difference to our overall budget.

The outdoor couch and pillows.

Our outdoor dining set looked like expensive teak, but it was less expensive hardwood that we purchased at Ikea.  Although it required some maintenance, it was a beautiful look for a fraction of the cost of real teak.

A jug of water with a slice of lemon in it.

Add in pillows and throw blankets for extra warmth and texture

My favourite part!  Adding right coloured blankets and pillows makes a huge difference.  I often sewed my own outdoor pillows using inexpensive outdoor fabric and an envelope style backing – you can read my DIY tutorial here.

Rolled up blankets and pillows.

A bright green leaf pillow on the bench beside the couch.

Shop your house for items that you can use outdoors as well as in

This is key.  Don’t go and buy everything new all the time.  Look around your house, first, for things you can use in a new way outdoors.  All the baskets that you see above and below were ones I already owned and moved from a different spot for the summer.  Even the throw blankets were ones I owned and decided to bring outside for a couple of months.  Lanterns, plant pots, and even some fake plants from inside just might work to help you create a cozy and welcoming outdoor space!  It’s all about looking at things in a new way and trying them out.

Baskets filled with extra blankets.

Outdoor potted plants and a candle.

A outdoor firepit by the lake.

Buy or DIY accessories to suit the overall look you are going for 

The stump side table that you see above was one of my favourite outdoor DIYs and was actually free to create.  I’ve seen them listed on websites for a couple of hundred dollars!  Check out how to make your own here.  

One way that I like to create a welcoming homey space that feels pulled together is through the use of colour.  You may have noticed that I have a bit of a fancy for blue.  But, truthfully, it can be whatever colours you love as long as you use it consistently throughout your outdoor space.

Cute graphic pillows on the setee by the lake.

In our new house I’ve already added one fun DIY affordable decor idea with my DIY Dollar Store hat wall.  I’m looking forward to getting the rest of our outdoor space finished off and sharing it soon… at least, sometime this summer!

A hat wall on the fence on the porch.


Today I’m joined by over 20 of my talented blogging friends who are also sharing their outdoor spaces with you…

Summer series blogger tour.

The Happy Housie // Place of My Taste // Rooms FOR Rent // Two Twenty One // Hallstrom Home

Taryn Whiteaker Designs // Modern Glam // Inspiration for Moms // The DIY Mommy // Life is a Party

The Handmade Home // Lolly Jane // Finding Silver Pennies
// All Things With Purpose // She Gave it a Go

Clean & Scentsible // My Sweet Savannah // Maison de Cinq // Amber Tysl // Lemon Thistle

Southern State of Mind  // This is Our Bliss

Want to remember this?  PIN it!

Inspiring outdoor spaces poster.

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  1. Krista, your outdoor space is the essence of summertime living! I can close my eyes and imagine your space in our back yard…I wish! I love your color choices, patterns and textures in everything from the darling tablecloth to your pillows, the throw, cushion covers, all so delightfully tranquil and summery!

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