Do you have an outdoor space? A patio, deck, balcony, terrace, porch, veranda, yard, garden, a little patch of dirt, or just any kind of outer space you can call your own (maybe it’s even in outer space)? Since it’s summertime (at least in the northern hemisphere) let’s talk about how to make it nice on the cheap.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a yard or garden, and I haven’t in many years, so I can’t help much in that area. There are some great gardening and yard blogs out there though. They’re much more knowledgeable!
And trust me, you don’t want me telling you how to take care of plants. Most of the plants that have met me have returned to the earth quickly.
Sprucing up your outdoor space is just as important as decorating your indoor space. It’s the first impression your visitors get and clues them in immediately to your tastes and personality. And realistically, it’s also your only personal space that most people will ever see. Why not show off a little?
Strangers passing by will probably never see the inside of your home. That’s no reason to let them just walk on by without getting a little taste of your style. Personally, when I’m out walking I love to see people’s outside decor. I find it charming and even inspirational. Humans like to see pretty stuff!
I live in an apartment complex, and every apartment has a balcony (apart from the below-ground units). My balcony is one of the bigger ones since I live in a two bedroom apartment. The balcony itself is cozy, but big enough to allow for a little couch and my signature need to clutter every space I inhabit with STUFF. It faces a busy, noisy street and elevated train tracks, which I’m sure is not everyone’s ideal living situation, but for me I love it because I crave the bustle of city living and people watching. And boy, are there people to watch. It’s high enough up to maintain my privacy and still peer down on everyone like a nosy gargoyle.
My neighbors and passers-by routinely tell me how nice my balcony looks. Which is, of course, an ego stroke, but like a child with no filter on my mouth, instead of replying “yes, thank you, I bought this designer patio couch for a million dollars!” I spout self-deprecating stuff like “ha, joke’s on you, most of these plants are fake!” or, “Fool, I got this for two dollars at a yard sale!” I really need to learn to put on airs.
I won’t pay a bunch of money to show off, though. I don’t think anyone should have to, and you can still have a nice, comforting space that reflects your personality. All it takes is a keen sense of your own style and keeping an eye out for bargains when you shop!
It’s a bit funny that on my side of the building, there seems to be a silent competition amongst my neighbors to see who can create the most dramatic balcony. This tells me I’m in good company, but also if we keep adding lights to one-up each other, there will be a tragic accident when the planes on the approach path to the airport over our building get confused and think we’re a runway. Or, we’ll end up with a 737 parked in our lot and we’ll be fighting over which one of us actually signaled them in.
The most expensive thing on my balcony is an outdoor couch I bought from Amazon. It’s surprisingly comfortable and regrettably teal–not because I dislike teal, but because I wish it had been available in pink. I had to assemble it myself, which was definitely not a good time. However, I’m pleased it hasn’t entirely collapsed into pieces while sitting on it and put me on the floor…yet. I’ll collect my engineering degree next week, thank you.
I also have a festive rainbow umbrella, which is a holdover from when I lived on a different side of the building and got a lot of sun. The sun on this side isn’t direct, but I still enjoy using it for the aesthetic. I can pretend I’m on the beach! You know, a beach with a major street and trains running through it.
Decorative items don’t have to be practical or even useful in order for you to enjoy them. Sometimes pretty things serve only one purpose: to make you happy when you see them. Form and function are important, but just having something around for the sake of seeing it is okay, too!
The rest of my decor is fake plants (and a few real ones thrown in because I’m trying, I really am), metal garden stakes, a few cute outdoor items, and a lantern that I’ve ‘weathered’ myself simply by leaving it outside and never bringing it in (which is what weathering actually is, right? Funny how fake ‘weathering’ is more the norm). And of course lights. Lots of lights.
Despite my surroundings, my decor has made my balcony surprisingly insular and private. I enjoy spending time on it, and I’m trying to spend as much time as I can, since summer only lasts about 15 seconds here and then it’s freezing rain again. You have to act fast or you won’t even see the sun. It’s a fun game we play every year (
it’s not fun)!
Here is a breakdown of the items in the pictures–check out the gallery below for even more! As always, if you see something I didn’t list and want to know more about it, just ask.
Items Featured In Pictures
All items are listed, to the best of my memory, where I bought them, and their approximate price at the time of purchase. Relevant links to retailers or specific items are included where possible. Please note: I am not paid by any retailer, organization, or product to promote anything on this blog. This is for informational purposes only.
- Patio couch – Amazon ~$200
- Gazing ball – Dollar General ~$15
- Chair – Part of a bistro set a friend gave me (I have a matching one I use inside).
- Woven lantern basket (made of plastic, with an LED candle) – Target ~$25
- Fake flowers – Dollar General ~$5 total
- Fake ivy – Amazon ~$13
- Stone patterned outdoor mat – Target ~$20
- Metal lantern – Target -$40
- Solar lamp (inside lantern) – Dollar General ~$2
- Real plants – Buyer’s Outlet (Cleveland discount store) ~$13 each
- Large garden stake with solar powered light – Marc’s (Cleveland discount store) ~$13
- Metal bird – Dollar General ~$3
- Metal mesh ball (made for hanging, but I sat it in a corner) – Dollar General ~$5
- Metal garden stakes (flower, sun, butterfly) – Dollar General ~$1 each
- Patio umbrella – Marc’s ~$15 for umbrella and base, each
- Hummingbird screen magnet – gift from a friend
- LED string lights – Dollar General ~$5 each
- Pink solar powered star lights – Dollar General ~$4
- Solar powered garden stakes (one on each side) – Dollar General ~$1