A patio, deck, balcony or porch can be transformed into an inviting room with a little bit of planning and creativity. If you’ve ever felt like your home was just a little too small, be prepared to enjoy a very low-cost addition. You can create a cozy outdoor living space that is the perfect place to relax or entertain.
Start With Comfortable Furniture
Whose says outdoor furniture has to be hard and uncomfortable? These days you can get wicker couches and chaises with thick cushions and pillows covered in soft material. Gone are the days when outdoor fabric was plastic, sticky and itchy.
Plan to have a swing or maybe even a hammock for a truly relaxing vibe in your new outdoor space. Couches and chairs that are plush and comfortable don’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can mix and match instead of buying a pre-fabricated set. Be on the lookout for suitable chairs at yard sales, and buy cushions and pillows separately when you find them on sale.
A foot stool or ottoman will give you plenty of options for staying as comfortable as possible. Scatter small tables around the furniture to be sure everyone has a place to set down a drink or plate of food during a get-together. If you plan to enjoy some picnics or barbecues, make space for a table and a grill.
Install Good Lighting
If you want to spend some time outdoors at night, install some lights. This can be a simple and straightforward project, because many outdoor lights are powered by little solar panels and turn on automatically when it gets dark. Line walkways with little lights, or place a light near corners and doorways to avoid stubbed toes. String holiday lights between posts for a festive feel.
Torches and fire pits make great additions to outdoor spaces like patios. They’re not so great for smaller spaces close to a house, but if you have an appropriate area, they make a wonderful centerpiece around which to gather with friends.
Insect Control Is a Must
It’s impossible to be comfortable outside when mosquitos are biting you left and right, when bees are flying too close, wasps are dancing around your lemonade and flies are landing on your food.
That’s why an insect control method that can keep insects out of your new favorite room is crucial. You have a lot of options, from burning incense or citronella candles to setting up a box fan to screening in the area. There are some insect control systems are said to protect a space as large as half an acre, which would be a fabulous investment if you can afford them.
Another popular method is to buy predatory bugs, in which case you’ll still have critters crawling around, just not the terribly annoying ones.
Plan for Some Shade
Your outdoor space probably already is shaded by your home for part of the day. But what about the rest of the time? No one wants to sit outside in the burning sun for too long. And if you want to sit outside to work on your laptop or read a book, the harsh glare of sunlight can make it impossible to see what you are doing.
A retractable awning is a very sophisticated solution, but you can also go very low-budget and tie a sheet or large piece of cloth between some posts for a rugged but practical awning. Otherwise, a patio umbrella makes a good compromise between price and look.
Define your new cozy outdoor living space by placing decorations in strategic places. This is particularly important if you have a patio that extends into a driveway or is otherwise not used entirely by your new room.
Plant flowers or shrubs or even trees in containers and line them up along one side to form a unique wall. Install a little fountain for a fun water feature, or if you’re feeling ambitious you could create an above-ground pond right on your patio. Use statues or knick-knacks to add a little flair, put an outdoor rug in front of your favorite chair, hang wind chimes and generally have fun putting your personality into it.
It is, after all, a place you can make entirely from scratch, so it ought to be uniquely you!
Guest post by Cathy Habas. Cathy is a professional writer based in Kentucky. She specializes in writing about home improvement and gardening, which are her main hobbies.