Create a Fun and Budget-Friendly Outdoor Room

Whether building a new or updating an existing deck or patio, consider a few ideas from this affordable and action-packed outdoor room.


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Outdoor Room
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Outdoor Room

    Turn a dull deck or patio into entertainment central. This space boasts an outdoor kitchen, sitting area, outdoor checkerboard, and colorful finishing touches, including outdoor fabrics that add color and style.

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Sitting Area

    When creating an outdoor room, think comfort. For upholstered furniture, use outdoor fabrics and synthetic fill. All-weather curtains cast welcome shade from the sun.

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Surface Materials

    Outdoor cooking is more enjoyable in a kitchenlike environment. However, most kitchen countertop materials don't weather well. Consider natural materials such as stone, granite, or slate. On a tight budget, make forms and pour concrete countertops (shown here) -- you can get creative and set in small stones or other embellishments for detail. Seal concrete twice yearly.

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Sink Station

    An outdoor sink is easy to install. Unless you plan to wash dishes, you need only a cold-water connection. This sink is fed by a garden hose (or you can connect directly to the house's water supply) and drains in a bucket. The gray water is then used for the surrounding plants.

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Kitchen Area

    Avoid the price tag of built-in cabinetry for cooking and dining utensils by using watertight, airtight plastic storage bins that tuck under the counter. Conceal a storage area or a garbage can with a pretty fabric curtain attached with hook-and-loop tape (shown here). Also, use stainless-steel fixtures, which don't expand and contract with weather changes.

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Cool Cooler

    Keep beverages cold without buying an outdoor refrigerator. This wood container looks much better than a standard plastic cooler, and it matches its surrounding decor. The box offers storage space for additional beverages and dinnerware in shelves below, and it can roll into the adjacent sitting area or inside for a refill or during cold weather.

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Grilling Station

    When space allows, add a countertop or island next to the grill to make food prep and service easier. A peninsula works well in this outdoor kitchen. It provides additional seating for outdoor dining that's close enough for the cook to chat with guests, but it keeps people away from a hot grill.

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DIY: Beverage Table

    Keep your favorite summertime drinks cold and conveniently located in an outdoor sitting area with this beverage table. Directions: Turn a metal bucket upside down and trace its opening in the center of an all-weather table. Measure in about 1/2 inch so the bucket won't fall through. Cut out the circle with a jigsaw. Sand inside and around the hole to dull sharp edges. Insert the bucket and fill with ice and drinks.

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Pick Plants Carefully

    If your outdoor room is in the sun, be sure to choose low-maintenance (and drought-tolerant) plants so you can spend your time relaxing instead of having to tend to the plants that surround the space.

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DIY: Bottle Chandelier

    Create an instant conversation piece and ambience after the sun goes down with this bottle chandelier.

    Directions: Drill holes around the side of a galvanized-steel feed pan (available at a farm supply store). Also, drill holes in the bottom so rain won't collect and near the top edge to suspend the chandelier. Feed plastic zip ties through the side holes and tighten around the bottles (choose bottles with a good curve to prevent them from slipping). Directions continue on the next slide.

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