Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
Been gazing out at your patio, wishing you could spruce up your hangout space? You don't need to spend a lot to make a big difference in the way your outdoor rooms look and feel; you can whip up outdoor furnishings and decor, hunt for vintage bargains and make smart choices about new purchases. Here are 10 ideas for updating your space on a dime.
1. Hang a vintage sign. One big, statement-making piece is enough to bring an outdoor room into focus. Hunt through the stalls at local flea markets or search online to find a sign that speaks to you. Spending a little more than you're used to on this one item can actually be worth it, because it will make everything around it look instantly cooler.
2. Rig up a sawhorse table. Need a table fast? Head to the hardware store. A pair of sturdy sawhorses topped with a door slab makes a quick dining table that can be taken down and stored when not in use. Paint the sawhorses and tabletop, or simply cover the whole thing with a giant tablecloth.
3. Cover an imperfect patio with a colorful rug. Cheap and cheerful plastic outdoor rugs are perfect for covering up less-than-perfect brickwork or cement.
4. Hunt down a used outdoor fireplace. These homeowners found the cool outdoor fireplace shown here for $100 on Craigslist. Keep an eye out -- you might get lucky! Also try searching for used fire bowls, patio furniture and big planters. You won't know what's out there unless you look.
5. Make some furniture with salvaged pallets. Stacked wood pallets can make an almost-instant outdoor bench, love seat or daybed. You can buy salvaged pallets, find them on Craigslist or see if local stores have any they want to get rid of. Paint them first if you want, then top them with thick cushions and toss pillows.
6. Hang outdoor curtains. Look beyond the catalogs to find ideas for whipping up your own outdoor curtains on a budget -- painter's drop cloths, cute shower curtains and tablecloths can all work. If you don't want to sew, purchase a grommet-making kit and pop in grommets along the top side of your outdoor fabric, then simply hang it from any curtain rod.
7. Use a coffee table and poufs in your backyard hangout. Poufs can be quite a bit cheaper than dining chairs, and they make for a fun twist when entertaining. Less formal than a dining table and chairs, and more convivial than an outdoor living room, the intimate setup here encourages chatting, snacking and sipping.
8. Choose gravel instead of stone. Gravel costs far less to install than pavers or other hardscaping, and can look just as chic. For a beach-inspired twist, try spreading crushed oyster shells instead of gravel -- if you live on the coast, it may be cheaper than gravel, too.
9. Make a table from tree stumps. Four solid trunk sections make a sturdy table base when trimmed to the same height. Set an old wooden door or scrap-wood slab on top, no nailing required.
10. Never underestimate the power of café lights. A strand or two of outdoor café lights (the kind with large bulbs and exposed filaments) is a can't-miss way to bring life to an outdoor seating area. If you do not have access to outlets, hang solar-powered string lights instead.