How to Design a Backyard Outdoor Living Space on a Budget

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Creating an outdoor living space can be done on a budget. By using what you already have, limiting purchases to the basics, and creating a focal point, you can easily and inexpensively create a welcoming outdoor living space in your backyard.

Design an Backyard Outdoor Living Space on a Budget

Before you Begin

Ask yourself how you and your family currently use the space, and how you would like to use the space. The answers will help you determine what you need to take away or add to the current outdoor space.

Focal Point

Similar to creating an inviting indoor living space, the backyard living space needs a focal point. The focal point may already exist, in the home’s architecture, in the landscaping, or in a backyard structure including a gazebo. Or, add your own focal point.

Fire Pit Table

One of the most popular and easy additions to the backyard outdoor living space is a fire pit table. The fire pit table can be low to the ground, with a wide perimeter where guests and family members can place cups or glasses. The fire pit adds instant warmth to any backyard.

On a Budget Tip: Build your own fire pit.

Water Element

If you already have fire, add water. A water element creates a soothing and pleasant addition to the backyard outdoor living space. It could be a small waterfall as part of the landscaping, an or artificial pond for real fish. Small stand-alone water fountains or bird baths offer inexpensive ways to add a water element to the space.

Mix and Max Outdoor Seating

Invest in a used outdoor furniture set with a love seat, chairs and table. Mix and match pieces by shopping at local consignment, used furniture, close out stores and yard sales. The styles and materials do not have to match. You can spray paint all of the pieces the same color to make them appear as a cohesive set. Add outdoor cushions to the pieces to make them more comfortable.

Designing for Function, On a Budget

How you want to use the backyard space should determine how you design it.

Umbrella Table

The biggest and best investment you can make in your outdoor space is a table with an umbrella. With four to six chairs, the table becomes an instant gathering place for your family and friends. Use the table to eat meals, play board games, or just relax, comfortably, while sitting outdoors.

Pick a table and chair set that is easy to clean, durable and can be folded or easily stored if you live in a seasonal climate.

On a Budget Tip: Before investing in a brand new table set, consider updating your umbrella, repainting an existing table and using new cushions on old chairs.


Lighting is not something home owners would overlook in their indoor spaces, and it should also be considered for outdoor spaces. Invest in solar lawn lights to mark or make pathways to outdoor living spaces which are not adjacent to the house.

Festive string lights add a touch of whimsy to outdoor spaces and can be found in many styles, from boxy Asian-inspired lanterns to red hot chili peppers. Tiki torches, citronella torches, and floating candles in your water element also add soft lighting to backyard outdoor spaces at night.


Add a kid-sized table and chairs in the same area as the adult table. Kid’s outdoor play toys and stations, including sand boxes or sand and water tables should be worked into the design and kept close to the adult seating areas.

On a Budget Tip: Use What you Have

Use what you already have. If you have an old table that has been relegated to the basement or garage, it can be covered with a tablecloth and used in a covered outdoor space. The same can be done with old side tables or chairs.

Dig up or disassemble brick walls, stone walls or any other elements which have seen better days. Use the same materials to build new backyard features.

On a Budget Tip: Use What Nature Gave You

If you have large pieces of trees from trees that had to be cut down in your yard, use them as seats for the fire pit. Sand the top to remove rough edges and pick log pieces without a lot of sap. Longer pieces may be sliced in half, attached to two round log pieces and be used as long benches.

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