When spring finally arrives, Oregonians are eager to get outdoors. For many of us, that means barbecuing, working in the yard, and relaxing on the back porch with kids, family and friends. For a number of years now, home decorators have promoted the idea of the “outdoor living space” being an extension of one’s home. That is great in theory, but outdoor kitchens, elaborate decks, and matching patio furniture ensembles can cost a small fortune.
In fact, it doesn’t take a ton of money to create a lovely spot just outside your home. Here are some affordable ways to make your outdoor space more livable:
• Think about how you use the space and plan accordingly. Do you read outside, play with the kids, cook, entertain or play sports?
• What do you already have that could work as outdoor furniture or décor? Could an old nightstand, coffee or kitchen table be painted to become a shabby chic outdoor table? Could old throw pillows be recovered to accent patio seating?
• Have a focal point for your outdoor living space. Larger focal points might include a fire pit, or colorful shade umbrella, while smaller (and less expensive) ones might be a pot of showy flowers or a cool lantern.
• De-clutter the space by finding a place to store outdoor toys, yard and garden tools, and barbecue accessories.
• Bring a pop of color into the space. While red, orange or yellow may be too bold in the house, bright colors look beautiful next to all the outdoor greens.
• Look at used furniture stores and thrift shops for items that could be refurbished.
• Furniture doesn’t all need to match; you may find a good table one place and chairs at another, rather than buying them all together in a matched set.
• If you choose wood furniture, getting it unfinished and doing it yourself will keep the cost down.
• Start small; you don’t have to do it all at once. A couple of comfortable yet attractive chairs and a small table can add a lot of livability to a deck or patio without breaking the bank.
### Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.