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5 Tips for Creating a Colorful Outdoor Oasis on a Budget

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Summer is finally here! And I don’t know about you, but that means we’ll be spending hours and hours every day outside on our deck.

When we moved into our home nearly six years ago, we lucked out — our home already had a deck that the previous owners built.

Was it our style? Not completely. But it was absolutely liveable. 

This post is sponsored by Jo-Ann Stores. As always, the opinions shared below are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Kate Decorates possible! Read my full disclosure policy here.

Our deck — the “before”

Here’s what our deck’s looked like for years:

patio reveal before

It was … fine. I guess.

But it surely wasn’t anything special.

And it didn’t bother me all that much … until 2020 turned into the year of rarely leaving our house.

All of a sudden, our family of four was spending every waking moment on our deck.

I decided that the lackluster “before” needed some love.

Creating a colorful outdoor patio without going broke

Like every space I decorate, considering beauty versus budget when it comes to decor is a delicate balance.

Here are some general rules I followed when sprucing up our outdoor space that you can use too.

These tips make creating a gorgeous, budget-friendly outdoor oasis a breeze.

See what I did there?

I’ll stick to decorating versus telling jokes … I promise. (Where is that face palm emoji when you need it?!)

Tip #1: Go for quality when it comes to the big items.

Investing in a dining table and chairs, or an outdoor sectional?

This may seem counter-intuitive since the whole point of this post is to share tips for saving money when decorating your patio, but here’s the hard truth: Don’t buy the cheap stuff when it comes to the big items for your space.

I’m not saying you should shy away from a sale.

But the point is that if the price of that outdoor dining set seems too good to be true, it’s probably not going to last you more than a season or two.

Buy the best quality outdoor furniture that you can afford, and then balance it out by spending less on the accessories like throw pillows and melamine dinnerware.

A few years ago we purchased this dining table and chairs from one of my favorite stores.

colorful outdoor patio reveal

It certainly wasn’t the cheapest option.

But it’s super durable, looks great and can withstand all kinds of weather, not to mention toddlers who bang on it with Little Tykes plastic baseball bats.

Tip #2: Add color with wallet-friendly outdoor throw pillows and rugs.

Here’s where that whole saving money thing comes into play (hurrah!).

Outdoor rugs and throw pillows are a must — they’ll add layers of color and personality to patio.

But my general rule of thumb is that I don’t spend an astronomical amount of money on either of these items.

Yep, there are lots of stunning outdoor rugs and pillows available that are on the pricier side.

I’m not against the occasional splurge, but with two young kids at home I’ve learned my lesson too many times: No matter how well-behaved or careful your kids are, something is going to get stained or destroyed.

Which is exactly why I don’t spend big bucks on outdoor decor. 

This is one of my favorite stores for finding fun, colorful outdoor pillows — it’s where I got the ones you see in the photo of our deck below.

Click here to shop the exact outdoor pillows we have!

colorful outdoor patio reveal throw pillows

There are plenty of other great sources for affordable outdoor decor — in fact, here’s an entire post that’s all about my favorite stores for finding great outdoor decor at a reasonable price.

Tip #3: Reuse what you already have (AKA spray paint all the things).

Tired of those planters you bought a couple years ago? Not feeling the hue on that Adirondack chair?

Don’t sell or donate that stuff — just give it new life with spray paint!

That’s exactly how I refreshed the planters you see on our deck:

colorful outdoor patio spray paint planters

I bought these a while back from Lowe’s when I liked more muted colors in my decor. 

But my color-loving self needed a change, and so I went to my local Jo-Ann Store and picked up several cans of Rust-Oleum spray paint.

Rust-Oleum is one of my favorite brands of spray paint. And trust me, I’ve tried a lot of brands. 

Rust-Oleum has a great variety of colors, and I always get consistent results when I use their paint.

Which is why I keep coming back to it as a go-to brand again and again.

how to spray paint planters

Spray painting anything is so easy — and it’s an incredible, cost effective way to give new life to old decor.

If you decide to spray paint planters (or anything else), just follow these easy steps.

how to spray paint planters 2

  • Clean your planters thoroughly first — whatever household cleaner you use will work here. I am always tempted to skip this part but it is so important.
  • Let the planters dry.
  • Find a well-ventilated, non-windy space for spray painting your planters. Somewhere outside is a great option as long as there’s no wind.
  • Hold your spray paint about 12″ away from the planter. Spray one light coat on the planter. Let it dry.
  • Repeat the previous step until your planter is fully painted.

The biggest secret to success when it comes to spray painting is that several light coats are much better than one thick coat.

If you put too much paint on an object at one time, it’ll run and streak. And that’s not so hot. Go with lighter layers and you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Tip #4: Find new ways to use old decor.

Did you spot those coral and white striped table runners?

They’re actually Turkish bath towels that I bought for dirt cheap. (Here’s where you can buy your own!)

I initially purchased them for a beach trip to use as, ya know, beach towels.

But then I decided they’d look great as table runners — so here they are on our dining table!

And the rattan tray you see on the table isn’t new. I found that at Target several years ago, and it normally sits in our basement waiting for guests to come over so that we can put drinks on it.

colorful outdoor patio reveal 2

It felt like the perfect item to use for serving sparkling water or lemonade on our deck.

What are some decorative accents you already own that you could use outdoors?

Tip #5: Go for some green.

When it comes to decorating your outdoor space, this is may be one of the easiest tips to follow — and that’s adding some plants!

You may already have some in your backyard. And if that’s the case, then you can totally check the box on this one.

If you don’t have a lot of greenery in your backyard — or you want to add something more than evergreen trees (that’s mostly what we have!) — then head to your local plant nursery or home improvement store and pick up a few plants. 

I picked up a palm and some other tropical plants at our local nursery, and those three plants make our patio feel just a little bit more like a fabulous getaway.

And if I can’t take a real vacation, then I might as well make my backyard feel like one, right?

colorful outdoor patio reveal 3

Which tip is your favorite? And what part of your patio are you going to spruce up first?

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Mary Severson

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Where are your blue seat covers from???


Wednesday 29th of July 2020

Hi Mary! The cushions are made of Sunbrella fabric and I purchased them from Crate & Barrel a few years ago.

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