Stay Connected

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Beginning the Budget Redo of Our Outdoor Living Spaces

It's been a very chilly and wet April here in the Pacific Northwest. Just this afternoon, the high was predicted to be in the upper 40s F, with real feel predicted at 28 degrees F. We've had hail on 3 separate days this month. And the rain has been so prolific that I've been reluctant to do my walking outdoors on many days. So, I've been walking indoors a lot this month. To entertain myself while walking indoors, I've been watching Youtube videos of other folks' patio, deck, and front porch makeovers, in particular the ones done on tight budgets (because, as you know, a tight budget is just the sort of budget that I have).

Our outdoor living spaces really need a good makeover. And I've been inspired to turn these spaces into places where we want to linger, or play a game, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee in the early hours, or sit and wave hello to the passersby in front.

So, here I go, jumping into my summer project of upgrading our outdoor spaces on a budget. My plan is to incorporate what we own, repair and clean as needed, pick up whatever looks interesting from free piles, shop at thrift stores and garage sales, try a few DIY projects, and perhaps spending a little more money on some quality seating.

the current state of our backyard patio, 4 plastic chairs and a fire ring

Obviously, the first place to start is to do a thorough cleaning and repair of what we already have. When the weather warms enough for me to not mind getting wet, I'll pressure-wash the hard surfaces and chairs. Our outdoor cushions have faded over the years, so I"ll purchase some outdoor fabric to make new cushion covers. And our wood furniture needs re-staining.

I got a start on thrifting some furniture pieces this week. Tuesday is Senior Discount Day at Value Village. I went looking for a long black skirt for myself, but I came out with this side table. This table looks very much like another side table that we bought new in 2001. After a good cleanup and re-staining, I'll have a near-matching pair of side tables. 

One of the aspects that I like about this table is that it folds flat for storage. Another aspect that I really like . . .

is the price I paid. It was tagged $2.99. But since it was Senior discount Day, I actually paid . . .

$2.09. Yep, the discount at VV for seniors is 30% off everything, even the long black skirt that I also bought for myself.

This won't be a quick project. I expect to be working on it for a couple of months, at the least. But I will update you on my finds and progress as I go.

The videos that I've been watching have prompted me to think about how we use our spaces and what activities we may like to use them for, if the spaces were made suitable. For example, chairs or a bench on the front porch for casual people watching and good neighboring in the summer evenings and a simple bench and cushions on the back deck for quietly reading a good novel on a summer afternoon, or a DIY outdoor checkerboard for fun games and entertainment. My hope is that this will be the summer that some of my outdoor living dreams actually come to fruition.

How about you? What do you like best about the outdoor living spaces surrounding your home? Is there any spot where you're not satisfied? What matters more to you, function or visual appeal? Any advice to offer me as I begin this new project?


  1. It will be fun watching you transform your patio - especially because you have a good eye for making things look nice. A couple of years ago, we replaced our rotting deck with a covered porch and are very happy with it. We use the space much more than we did before, because with the roof, we now have some relief from the intense, southern sun we used to get. It helps the indoors, too. The den, where we spend most of our time, was too hot from the afternoon sun to spend time in there during certain parts of the year. The porch now mitigates some of that. Since this was major construction, it was not cheap, but we are very happy we did it.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      the work that you had done was an investment. Should you want to sell your home, a covered porch will be a desirable feature.

  2. Oh, I will be watching this with interest! Decorating and making things pretty really isn't something that comes naturally to me, but I was just telling my husband that prettying up the patio and sitting areas needs to be one of our next outdoor projects. I have kind of a broad vision of what I'd like to do, but need to think through the specifics. Most of our work and budget the past few years has gone into increasing the garden space, adding perennials, etc..., so the "pretty" has been on hold.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I totally understand. The past couple of years I've been more concerned with growing enough produce than the aesthetics of the outdoor spaces. So this is my year, too, to do something about our less than inviting patio, deck and front porch. Good luck with your efforts this year. Watching others' videos on Youtube has been a good source of inspiration and ideas of what to do and what not to do.

  3. Love your lush manicured garden adjacent to the patio. Maybe some kind of structure to provide shade and cover? At our home, I am patching the driveway that my dad made literally with his own hands and a few simple tools. Like a chip from the old block I don't do anything conventional. I bought some "oops" Beck Deck Over paint to seal the driveway cracks. It seems to be working as an undercoat to asphalt sealer. I made a comment to my husband recently that everything I make is always with the idea that it is just for now or practice, not the real deal, so I am reluctant to go all out. When our daughter and grandchildren inherit our house, I know what we've done will be remodeled their way. It's an old house that my dad built in the 60s, but didn't finish all the additions in his remodeling plans in the 90s, and which I don't want to continue because I don't see any value to complete it. Sometimes less is more. I think one day it may all be torn down and rebuilt.

    Have a wonderful day,

    1. Hi Laura,
      is this the house you grew up in? Wow, that's amazing. I don't think very many people get to have their childhood home as their adult home any longer. That home must be filled with so many memories for you.
      I agree, sometimes less is more. Once kids are grown, a person or couple only needs so much space. I think you're wise to know what you want.
      Good luck finishing the driveway repair!

    2. There is a typo in my comment, Behr, not Beck paint. My parents built a second home when I was 12 years old, and rented it for a long time until the late 80s when we moved in (we sold our townhome). I have fond memories seeing my dad and uncle build the home on weekends, it took over a year. Mom and I were the helpers and cleaned up behind them. Housing is so expensive in Hawaii. I'm glad they didn't sell it. The lot is large enough to build an ADU, which I hope our grandson, a carpenter apprentice, will build one day. I want this property to be a home to roost, and respite from the high cost of housing.


  4. That sounds like a fun project. I did a little refresh for our patio a couple of years ago. I was finding that we were hosting events for family and friends there as it was the safest place to do that in the height of covid. We have 4 black metal, foldable chairs, a matching foldable small table, and I inherited my mom's glider rocker, which matches our set. I got an outdoor rug and seat cushions as well as a small plastic, yes you guessed it, foldable side table. Now I can set up a pleasant outdoor social area. I have a small fire pit if we want a bonfire. We've gotten a lot of use out of it. I hope you enjoy yours as much as we enjoy ours.

    1. I just realized that you are looking for suggestions. If you can find fabric treated for outdoor use, I would recommend that. I have a weather safe outdoor container to store mine when not in use but it can be easy to forget to put them away. Storage is an issue for me so collapsible furniture is the way to go. I have a battery operated lantern, and would suggest some sort of lighting for after dark. There are lots of options and I think some of them are solar powered. I like your idea of outdoor games. We have teens and young adults over occasionally and games add a fun element. If you anticipate having younger children, an activity set with items like sidewalk chalk or bubbles is always nice.

      I like a combination of pretty and functional. Our patio is a humble one, but the cushions, rug, lighting, and plants make it charming (or so I tell myself). Please share pictures of your completed project!

    2. Hi Kris,
      I like your use of foldable patio furniture. It makes sense for off-season storage. Your set-up does sound charming and inviting. I'll share photos as I go.
      Thank you for your suggestions, Kris!


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post