How To Make Your Outdoor Space Feel Like Another Room In Your Home (for Less than $100)

published Jul 4, 2016
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As soon as summer hits, you may feel the urge to move everything you own outside so you can live under the sun and stars. Utilizing whatever outdoor area you have is especially important when you call a small space home, because it can give you the dining room, living room, or reading nook your place typically lacks. Whether you have a balcony, a rooftop, or an entire backyard to work with, these $100-or-less details will make it feel like an extension of your home.

Credit: Anna Spaller

Give your space a glow up. String lights are an obvious choice, but for good reason—nothing else will transform your outdoor space as quickly (and as cheap) as some well-placed string lights. Go for some bigger, cafe-style lights like Audra did with her Alexandria, VA, home above, or hang soft twinkle lights on your fence or even among your plants.

Pile on the pillows! Taking cozy accessories outdoors not only makes an outdoor space more comfortable (especially since outdoor furniture isn’t known for being the coziest), but it also extends your decor style into the backyard. Throw them on benches, chairs, or even the ground—your guests and your eyes will thank you.

Use rugs to set the stage. Grounding a deck or patio with a rug that can withstand the rain is a low-maintenance way to bring indoor luxuries outside. Jute rugs are particularly durable, and are neutral enough to blend with fun throw pillows and furniture. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a vibrant patterned rug, especially when your space is small or otherwise bland.

Transport everything on trays. Carry snacks, drinks, books, and other indoor essentials outside using sturdy lacquer or wood trays that won’t get ruined if you accidentally leave them out overnight. Plus, they’re a great way to jazz up a boring table, and if you keep them outside permanently they make a great home for flowers and candles.

Give each chair a soft seat. Inexpensive seat cushions make notoriously uncomfortable outdoor seats soft enough to lounge on for a few hours, especially wood slatted bistro-style seats shown above. Like throw pillows, seat cushions double as decor and will add personality to your space.

Credit: Lana Kenney

Light some lanterns. Candles twinkling inside glass lanterns make a space feel instantly lived-in—and creates a cozy vibe during nighttime gatherings. You can purchase hanging lanterns that will truly light up your entire space, or go for portable ones that also act as a lovely complement to string lights.

Get shady. Oftentimes you’ll find that outdoor spaces are lacking in some sun coverage, which can be an issue if you want to sit outside all day reading or hanging out. Rather than invest in some mechanical overhead shade, you can always opt for a well-placed umbrella—a relatively inexpensive and more convenient alternative.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Cart it outside. If you’ve ever looked at a perfectly-styled photo of a patio and thought about what a hassle it must be to pull everything inside when it starts raining—here’s one solution. Fill a small rolling cart with plants, as seen in Elizabeth’s Color-Filled Apartment, that you can be wheeled inside during a storm, or use it as a bar cart that can be brought indoors when the party’s over.

Make some room to hang out. Your outdoor area will definitely become your favorite room when you hang up a swing chair hammock or hanging chair. While not feasible for small balconies, you’d be surprised how many outdoor spaces can fit one (or even two!) of these chairs. Check out our entire guide to hanging chairs here to get the look.

This post was originally published on July 4, 2016, and was last updated on May 14, 2019.