Four ways to dress your deck for less

via / design by Emily Henderson

Spring is the perfect time to create a fun outdoor space, but if we’re being truthful, it can also be expensive. If you’re starting from scratch with furniture, a rug, a dining table, and plants, costs can easily climb into the thousands. But here are a few ways to get the look you want and save hundreds of dollars while you’re at it.

Browse higher-end brands, then look for copycats. Sites like Wayfair, Joss & Main, and Hayneedle make this easy.

For instance, the Ballard Designs outdoor sofa above is beautiful but sells for $1,699. You can find a sofa in a similar style from Walmart, and the ratings are really great (and the cost is $499).

Although you might wonder how the quality will compare to pricier brands, the fact is that you could buy three of these Walmart sofas for the price of a single Ballard one.

Consider a carpet remnant. Outdoor rugs can be pricey, but there’s no reason you can’t define a space with a beautiful indoor/outdoor carpet remnant instead. Check out the remnant section of your local carpet shop and look for commercial-grade offerings. They’ll scrub up great and cost a fraction of what you’ll spend for a “rug” in a store or online. Ask to have it bound at the same shop.

For example, the patterned 12′ X 12′ commercial-carpet remnant, in the middle above, is sale priced at $169. Tack on a little bit for binding, and you’re still well below what you’d pay for the same sized rug elsewhere.

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Bring your indoor plants outdoors. If you’ve got a big, beautiful fern inside and want to enjoy it outside during a hot, muggy summer, do it! Just use prudence at the front end. All the plant websites say indoor plants can be moved outside for summer but need to be acclimated slowly—a few hours at a time until they’re used to life outdoors—and brought back inside well ahead of any chance of frost. Here’s a link if you want more tips.

Clean up an old picnic table. Not everything needs to be new. Sand down an old picnic table and give it a new coat of paint or splash of stain. Picnic tables don’t cost a lot, and their usual bench seating means lots of bums can squeeze in once the burgers are ready.

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Make it fun for cheap. If you’d like to watch movies outside on hot summer nights, you can always hang a sheet and project a movie onto it. Or make it more permanent by scouting estate and garage sales for an old projector screen. Find a place under the eaves to screw in some eye hooks, and hang the screen when needed for movie nights. I’m hoping to do this very thing, so stay tuned for pics.

What outdoor projects are you excited to tackle this spring and summer? Do share in the comments. •

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