One of my favorite things about having my own place is having a little porch to relax on in the spring and fall. Whether you have a little balcony attached to your apartment or a back yard outside of your townhouse, it’s easy to get carried away when making an outdoor space your own. From furniture to lights and decor to eating space, there’s a lot to consider (and a lot that can get expensive very quickly!). Here’s my advice on what to save and splurge on in your first place.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but since you probably don’t have a huge amount of space (and will likely be moving within the next few years), don’t invest in fancy outdoor furniture. My landlord says that outdoor furniture is what always gets left behind when her tenants move out. Instead of buying an expensive or heavy outdoor set, consider a few Adirondack chairs instead. When you’re buying, consider thrift stores as well. Choose furniture that is not too bulky (you’ll have to move it out at some point!) and inexpensive but comfortable. There’s no use in buying something you hate, but also no use in breaking the bank.
Eating area: SAVE
If you have the space for an outdoor table and chairs, definitely check local thrift or bargain stores first. I’ll echo my same advice I gave for furniture — make sure you really love it and that it doesn’t break the bank. Also consider how you’ll use it. If you’re a big entertainer, it may be more worthwhile than if you don’t host often.
Decor & lighting: SAVE
Notice a theme here? There’s not much point in over-spending on your outdoor decor for a few reasons. Not only will it likely not last as long as indoor decor, but it’s more likely to be left behind when your new place has a smaller balcony.
So, you ask, how do I make an inviting outdoor living space while SAVING? My advice is what worked for me: Check Craigslist and local garage sale sites religiously, wander through thrift stores on the weekend, and think about your next moving day before you purchase anything. Your outdoor space can be beautiful and homey, but make sure it doesn’t break the bank to avoid buyer’s remorse.
SPLURGE: Greenery or plants
This is the one exception, as greenery and potted plants are not only a fun way to take on responsibility, but also can make your space feel much more inviting. Check your local Home Depot/Lowe’s/Pike’s or local growers for a sturdy pot and choose a few flowers or small shrubs that would thrive in your outdoor environment. Check the plants’ tags for whether they like sun or shade and choose what fits your space. Although these are “nice-to-haves” and far from necessities, this splurge won’t break the bank and will leave your space feeling much more homey.
One final note — if you are furnishing a highrise balcony, make sure that all of your furniture and items are heavy and secure so they don’t move or fly off in the case of heavy wind!