Places to Go : Outdoor Rooms

Have you noticed that the outdoors has become the extra room you didn't know you had? Why not create an outdoor "room" this summer? Magazines are chock-full of outdoor kitchens, firepits, living rooms and even chandeliers hung from trees. If you're like me, you have a small space and and even smaller budget. Our wood deck measures 10' x 16' and is up three stories. The house rule is not to weigh the deck down with heavy furniture or too many pots of plants. The other challenge was the budget, less than $300.

Our color palette remains the same - indoors and out - for a cohesive look.

Turns out, now is the perfect time to buy a patio set as sales are in full swing. We found this small, lightweight, powder-coated dining set at Kmart for $199. Luckily, our old cushions (recovered in Sunbrella fabric years ago) fit the new chairs. After I took this photo, I realized I could throw these cushions in the washer and dryer, so now they are nice and plump. Adding a $99 outdoor rug (Ballard Designs' (ballarddesigns.com) annual indoor-outdoor rug sale is on now), the "room" started to take shape.

This elephant came from Vietnam in the early 1970's and has followed me around from house to house. There were 3 black planters already on the deck and those were replanted with succulents - using cuttings from the front porch pots.

"Shopping" the basement, there were accessories that could easily be brought out for day use. A wooden Balinese sculpture and a small pagoda on the table gives this deck "room" some personality.

Whew! Under budget and all ready for a sunny Sunday. See you on the deck.

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