Affordable outdoor design ideas

Outdoor wicker couch with yellow and grey patterned cushions and oversize floor cushions.
EXPERT ADVICE Hayley-Anne Brown PHOTOS James Dunlop

When it comes to decorating your outdoor area, more often than not, it can feel like you have to sacrifice your personal taste for practicality.

But with a few tips and tricks, you can ensure your outdoor area is both practical and stylish.

Firstly, give your outdoor area a good spring clean by decluttering, water blasting, mowing, trimming, spraying, mulching, weeding and whatever else it needs to get back up to scratch. Now that you’ve got a tidy space to work with, all you need to do is cosy it up….

Three bright and cheerful coloured cushions to accessorise outdoor couch


1. Accessorise

Accessorising doesn’t have to be scary. Just take a staged approach and trust your sense of taste. Gradually keep layering items into the space until you feel there’s enough. Add a few cushions, swabs to your seating, throws and a sprinkling of candles. Accessories are a good opportunity to add vibrancy through the use of bright and cheerful colours. If you have kids, add a couple of oversized floor cushions for extra seating.

2. Be gone with you, winter chill!

If you don’t have an outdoor fire and don’t want to spend a fortune, then a wood burning brazier or fire pit is a great option. Both tend to be more affordable in comparison to a built-in fire, as they don’t require hefty installation costs. Braziers are great as you can move them around to suit the weather conditions.

3. Shelter

Firstly, work out the direction of the prevailing wind and then place your protection barriers accordingly. Some affordable solutions include a row of tall pot plants; a simple pagoda-type pavilion with wooden slats, thatch or draped outdoor fabric; or a green wall constructed out of old wooden pallets with climbing vines.
If you’re going with a row of pot plants, select a plant that has a bit of height and a shallow root system so they will be happy potted. Your local garden supplier will be able to help you with this.

Black and white geometric patterned cushion against yellow, white and grey stripped outdoor seat


4. Add some warmth under foot

Layer a couple of rugs or just have one; either way large outdoor rugs prevent upward drafts through decking and provide warmth underfoot from cold pavers, tiles and concrete. If you plan on leaving your rug outside, then use a purpose built outdoor rug that won’t retain moisture and rot.

Light green outdoor sitting couch with vibrantly pattern cushions and cream, square outdoor table


5. A warm glow

Candles, fairy lights and string lights are a quick and easy way to add a sense of warmth to your outdoor space. One of the easiest tricks in the book is to place a supersized pendant over your outdoor table or seating area.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go to the fuss of wiring it all up, a group of hanging lanterns with candles will do the trick. This instantly makes your dining area more cosy and impressive. So there you have it, outdoor entertaining doesn’t have to be a distant melancholic memory. I hope you’re feeling inspired to get back out there.

Need further inspiration for getting your outdoor space ready for entertaining in the spring and summer? Visit the Zones gallery for additional design ideas. 

This expert advice by Hayley-Anne Brown from Lou Brown Interior Design featured on page 40 of Issue 016 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your outdoor renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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