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Decorate Your Outdoor Spaces on a Budget!

Many times when the weather becomes sultry, the only place we want to be is in our favorite chair on the porch, sipping ice-cold lemonade! So, if we are to spend our summer months languishing with Mother Nature, why not treat our "outdoor room" to a little freshening up, and make our time outdoors more enjoyable! Here are some great, easy ideas you can use to add your own personal style to a much used "summer home"!

Treat your outdoor space just like an indoor room when you think about decorating it. Mother Nature has got the ceiling covered in most cases, but you should think about floors, furniture, accessories, color, and, yes, walls, just like any other project! Choose a theme, even if it's just color!

Use existing fencing, tall plants, trellising, etc... for your walls, or just imply that walls exist by arranging your furnishings as if they did!

Dress up old patio furniture with cushions (easily made out of leftover fabric), a little paint, and maybe some stenciling or stamping. Details bring that "homey" feeling to the space. If you don't have furniture, buy those inexpensive resin chairs and make cushions out of a bright cheery fabric.

Tables can be made out of a lot of "junk." Stepladders make great little drink tables. I found one of those large "spools" used by the utility companies in my yard when I moved in - it's a bit weathered, but turned on its side, it makes a terrific table! Paint leftover squares of plywood and set them on top of unused large pots, or on a birdbath. Two pots and a larger piece of wood make a great coffee/breakfast table.

Tiki torches are relatively inexpensive, and add great ambience! Forget that expensive outdoor lighting set!

Make luminaries out of recycled cans to light a walkway. Remove labels, fill with water, and then put in the freezer for a couple of hours. When they're frozen, use a hammer and nail to poke holes in a pattern, similar to punched tin. Stars, hearts, butterflies, even just zigzag lines will let the light shine through in an interesting pattern. (The freezing of water prevents the can from denting when you punch it.) Thaw, drain, put some sand, dirt, or gravel in the bottom to anchor a votive candle - instant charm, for the price of the candles! This is great for a party or barbecue, by the way!

Paint those boring planters! Once again, a few tubes of craft paint and a little imagination can make all the difference. Nothing fancy is needed- stripes, dots, squiggles, sponged-on shapes all can make designer accents. How about gluing on some stones or shells?

Since we are already painting planters, how about free ones? I recycle kitty litter buckets, plastic ice cream buckets, coffee cans, etc... Just poke some drainage holes in the bottom, paint and decorate, and plant!

Take the time to dress up your outdoor spaces?it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and it will help create a relaxing sanctuary to wile away those lazy days! (If you actually have any of those!)

Kathleen Wilson is an author, national columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator. You can find hundreds of free budget home decorating ideas and sign up for her free online newsletter at her website at

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