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FIX IT FRIDAY: 3 Readers Needed Budget-Friendly Outdoor Space “Makeovers” And This Is What We Told Them To Do

The sun has started to really shine now that we are well into April so it was only natural that our next Fix it Friday was outdoor-related. I know many of us have been “meaning” to fix up our patios, balconies, decks, etc for probably years now, so how about we make it actually happen during this one? Full honestly, mine needs a very laborious deep clean. But if you are starting fresh (and hopefully kinda clean) then here are three reader-submitted entries that I hope will inspire you.

Now, I chose three more budget-friendly ones to show you that you can do a lot for less. However, outdoor furniture is typically pricey. The idea is that they have to stand up to the elements, right? But also remember that there are so many affordable second-hand options that with a little love can look awesome. I just had to choose things that were purchasable online for more than one person since it’s you know, a blog with a few readers:) Ok first batter up!

Nothin In Napa

From Our Reader: “We’re in Napa Valley, hoping to have a small table for dining and then some lounge space for 2-4 ppl. Open to seating styles, chaises, or a couch.

Budget $3k

Look – totally open-minded, something comfortable and in the middle of not too modern and not too farmlike in style. A classic hideaway? Rustic oasis? Need some planters!”

You got it! So I think this can easily be split into a lounge zone and a dining zone. On the left is where I think a sectional could happily go, especially with that beautiful tree next to it. Then adding a patterned rug to zone out the area would totally anchor the space. Plus it adds visual interest and texture. I’d love to see some fun but neutral pillows on the sectional too!

design by jess bunge | styled by emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: jess’ communal patio reveal

Then on the right and a little closer to the house, I think a round dining table (to break up the rectangle-ness of the sectional and the patio itself) would look perfect. I chose this awesome rattan one from Article that I also used on my communal apartment patio (see above). It’s so so pretty, easily fits 4 if not 5 or 6, but should be covered when you aren’t using it FYI. Now, let’s get more into the design…

Outdoor String Lights | Sectional + Coffee Table Set | Rug | Side Table | Floral Pillow | Green Pillow | Faux Natural Fiber Pillow | Candelabra | Taper Candles | Cream Planter | Terra Cotta Planter | Footed Tray Set | Copper Lanterns | Dining Table | Metal Chairs (Set of 4)

I really think this mood board rides the line nicely between modern and farmhouse while still staying within the $3k budget. The sectional and coffee table set is a bit more modern but then is offset by the rustic wood side table and cozy, almost farmhouse-like pillows. I then wanted to use a slightly bold but not too loud rug (yes, it’s one of ours:)) and I love this combo. But for easy cleaning and stackability, those metal chairs are perfect and are a great contrast to the very natural, airy dining table. To finish it off, with cute decor, I LOVE the look of an iron candelabra on an outdoor table. Then adding in those pinkish candles when they are hosting or eating outside it will look incredibly stylish and intentional. That black tray is awesome (actually comes in a set of 2) and would look great on the coffee table and the copper lanterns help to warm up the space. Honestly, I didn’t pick out too many planters because I think an assortment of terra cotta planters from a local nursery is their best bet. I really hope this helps!

Curing That “Blah” Feeling

From Our Reader: “I love our backyard!  But it needs a bit of styling. We have already spent quite a bit removing all of the grass and adding pavers, pea gravel, new fence, and last year a pergola to cover our prized Big Green Egg! The downside. It tends to look a bit grey. Between the pavers, gravel, and Adirondackchairs (that I love) it’s all totally blah. The budget would be $3000.  We live in North Vancouver, Canada so need to accommodate a very wet climate.”

I love their yard too and can definitely tell they’ve really put in a ton of work. But I also can see that with a little styling and a potential DIY it could really sing. I do want to preface that since the reader is in Canada I kept my search to Wayfair, Amazon, and one Article piece assuming shipping wouldn’t be an issue. I wish I could snap my fingers and Canada’s Targets were as good there as they are here (or at least that’s what I keep hearing).

First off, I think their beloved Adirondack chairs could benefit from a fresh coat of stain? That way they will look a little warmer and inviting if that’s what they are looking for. If they love the current shade then no need to stain. It’s not crucial to the design:) But some visual texture is. What I mean is that we need a rug, some interesting but practical seating for the table, a little color, and more planters!

The last thing I’ll say before I get into specific products is that maybe letting/guiding that greenery on the right wall extend around the whole space would be SO pretty. That might be the plan already which I’m keeping my fingers crossed for (if it’s possible!).

Copper Side Table | Adirondack Chair Pillows x4 | Dining Chair Pillows x2 | Long Planter | Blankets x4 | Blanket Basket | Copper Lanterns | Black Lantern | Captain Chair x2 | Metal Outdoor Bench x2 | Ceramic Tray | Jute Rug | Water Resistant Plastic Lockable Deck Box

See what I mean by the warmer wood stain? It’s just cozy. But also NO pressure. One thing I want to point out is this reader’s weather issue in that they experience A LOT of it. So the first thing I did was look for an affordable, not hideous, water-resistant storage box. If you have any great suggestions, aside from the one above, please drop them in the comments! It’s very important to remember that without textiles and plants, of course, your backyard will most likely feel kinda blah. It’s been cold for months, y’all! But then spring comes and the textiles will reemerge leaving your eyes so happy. No need to go crazy with bright colors to counterbalance the seasonal grayness unless that’s your style.

I felt like this reader was more of a nature color lover so I stuck with blues and greens for the pillows and rug. Also, peep the “blanket basket” which would be so cute and wonderful to bring out when people are crowded around the fire pit. But this doesn’t mean we can’t have a little metallic glam with that side table and those lanterns (which I would love to see a lot more of by the play area entrance). Speaking of the play area, I think it would look so pretty to have a long planter at the edge of the elevated area by the stairs on the left (even better if there’s another on the right). Plantings that are just tall enough to make that space feel separate, but not so tall that you can’t see the kids playing. Plus that rusty metal is so pretty.

Then for the dining table, I am a big fan of the idea of getting two really special captain chairs and then two benches for the sides. I saw that some chairs were stacked next to the pergola so no need to get new seating but at the same time, with those 4 Adirondack chairs, it’s A LOT of chairs with a lot of lines. But the most crucial part of the dining area is a large area rug! It helps zone the space and brings in more visual life. This is also why a storage box is SO IMPORTANT so that their pillows, blankets, and rug can stay beautiful and out of a landfill.

Sun Bathing In Brooklyn


  • About $1500!

A little about the space:

  • It’s really big and has 2 levels (you will see the little step). It is on the second floor of a 3rd floor walkup.
  • There is no direct view into anyone’s windows except my neighbors upstairs, so it is pretty private
  • I just got that IKEA bamboo picnic table, which I love but everything else can go. There is a spot for an umbrella.
  • You are probably wondering WTF is lying my the door? That is a divider that rotted and fell down. It blocks my portion of the deck from my next-door neighbors and keeps my dog from wandering over there

What I want/need to do with the space:

  • I work from home 3 days a week, so when it is nice I would like to do calls from there
  • I def more of a tanning and gossiping with my best friend type of gal and not a hosting BBQs and having a conversation space. I would love a cool chaise/reclining chair to lay in the sun on nice days
  • I have an old dog so I need a comfy place for him to relax when it doesn’t feel up for taking a walk.
  • I love plants and growing veggies! I would love a cool big tree I could grow in a pot that won’t die in the winter. My landlord built the current flower pot and it is dying. 
  • I just bought a compost bin that I am going to set up out there, so I need a spot for that too!

Well, that was extremely helpful information and I hope I got pretty close to it! While $1,500 is not a small amount of money, especially for one space, I wasn’t about to deck it out as much as I would have liked. But as a vintage lover/hoarder (other info from the email) over time she will decorate this deck out BEAUTIFULLY. Until then, here’s my plan for her.

I think a symmetrical look would be so fun. That means centering the table a little more (and obviously adding a sick-looking umbrella). Then on the “lower level” get two lounge chairs that sit facing the building. Since they really aren’t a BBQ person, this gives them ample space to sunbathe with a friend. I also really like that white cabinet they already have and think it could be great for storage or even a glorified plant stand:)

Bring this baby back to life and add a couple of cute trellises for a little extra privacy (vines will really help with this:))

They also mentioned that their divider fell down and in the spirit of saving some money, I’d really try to repair it. Then throw the new compost under the stairs since the last thing you’ll want to do is walk far with your food scraps when the weather is super cold…or too hot and near all the lounging if you catch my drift. I also think the colors of that accent chair are FUN. But moving it to the other side for just one more place to sit would be great (and not get in the way of the lounge chairs:)).

Here’s what I think is a great starting point.

Outdoor String Lights | Rattan Planters | Umbrella | Umbrella Stand | Existing Picnic Table | Trellises x2 | Lounge Chairs x2 | Towels x2 | Dog Bed | Patio Cooler

The umbrella is the centerpiece and while looking yellow the description reads like more of a cream, FYI. A stand is important but it’s an added bonus that their recently purchased table has a hole for umbrellas already. Then if we stay on the top deck, I love love these trellises and think two (I didn’t get measurements) would be perfect in the plant box. A vintage-esque-looking beauty if you ask me! But as someone who loves laying (read: napping) in the sun, a good lounge chair was important for me to find. I love the style of this one and the pull-out side table. The white cushion color is risky but that’s what covers are for. These are perfect for not being depressed when you look outside. But while using these chairs, I love these towel’s print so much. Then, of course, we needed a comfy spot for the dog and this outdoor plush bed was screaming my name. I think having the bed at the foot of one of the loungers or back behind the table where the current one is will work best. Lastly, an extra large cooler for fun drinks or cold snacks for when our reader is solo or with friends sounds like a good idea to me:)

As always, I hope this was helpful even if you weren’t chosen and THANK YOU to everyone who did submit! I wish we could help every single on of you every time<3 Happy Friday!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Jess Bunge | Styled by Emily Bowser | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Jess’ Communal Patio Reveal

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1 month ago

Lovely design suggestions, but I am wondering about the use of jute rugs in exposed outdoor areas. I have read that, unlike sisal, this material does not tolerate moisture well.

29 days ago
Reply to  Eva

I was wondering the same thing–are these outdoor rugs?

29 days ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Knowing your climate matters of course, but so does knowing the performance characteristics of your furnishings and decor items. Outdoor rugs, sunbrella fabrics, solar lights, frost-safe planters etc are surely key elements of practical design for exterior spaces?

29 days ago

Cute ideas! GREAT product resources. Thank you!

29 days ago

Also being from North Vancouver, I had to comment on the suggestion of the jute rug. Just no. Gorgeous, but not appropriate for our wet climate. I feel like this would be soggy and wet for days after a rainfall. I don’t think any outdoor rug is practical for area.

29 days ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

I’m from the east coast have similarly rainy weather. There is no season that is less wet, and storms pop up with little warning (year round), on top of the high humidity (which again, is year round). I assume the coastal environment of Vancouver is not completely dissimilar. Is the recommendation here honestly to pull the rug out of the storage box and lay it out…every time you go outside? I can handle a certain amount of “prep” like taking off/putting on covers on my furniture and lowering the umbrella (yes, EVERY TIME) but this rec feels very unrealistic

29 days ago
Reply to  Heather

Totally agree! I’m in the PNW and jute just won’t work, storage box or no. It’s such a mess. It’s hard enough to keep cushions from getting musty even over the summer. As an alternative: I’ve been surprised by how well my parents’ woven plastic outdoor rug has held up. It spends the entire year outside and is currently heading into it’s THIRD summer. Unbelievable! They hang it and hose it off at the beginning of the warmer season, and it still looks pretty good. Yes, plastic, ick. But I’ve been so impressed that I’m thinking of getting one to add flair to our cement patio this summer.

27 days ago
Reply to  Erin

Yes, this x 100000. I live in the PNW and have two rugs from Fab Habitat that are made from recycled plastic. They stay outside year round and still look brand new. No moving them in and out of storage! We just power wash them every spring. HIGHLY recommend.

29 days ago

For the Vancouver home, if they can’t change the stain of the Adirondack chairs (looks like it could be a composite material?) they could try staining their concrete! Comes in a variety of colors and could help break up all of the grey!

29 days ago

I think the second one just needs more greenery to break all the greys and browns. We have lots of planters and I love it! No perenials in terracotta planters though, cause those will freeze and crack in winter.

Tara Lynch
29 days ago

Jess, I think you’re absolutely brilliant at pulling design boards together. I live all of the designs and appreciate the work you put in to pull products that are pretty readily available.

Tara Lynch
29 days ago

So many typos! I LOVE the design boards and appreciate the work you put in PULLING products. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

25 days ago
Reply to  Tara Lynch

Eh, it’s just a comment, don’t worry about it. We all hit post too soon sometimes and I honestly didn’t even notice yours – my brain fixed them automatically.

Lisa H
29 days ago

I’ve used outdoor rugs for years in Colorado. The ones made specifically for outdoor use hold up great. Both of the ones we have now are 2 years old. We replaced the ones we had before, because we had a large fire in our area, and all of our outdoor furnishings needed to be replaced. Otherwise, I think the old ones would be going strong. They stay in place year round. They get snowed on and rained on. I think they are both 9×12, and are anchored by outdoor furniture, some of which gets covers pulled on during snowy or wet days. There is no way I could roll them up and put them into a storage box. I do have throw pillows and throws that we keep in a waterproof storage box. The best way to add color to an outdoor space is with large ceramic flower pots. You can get freeze proof ones if you live in a snowy part of the world. The glaze helps hold moisture in the pot. The bigger the pot, the easier to keep the plants from drying out. I plant them every year with different combinations, and in early winter, I make… Read more »

29 days ago

Having a private outdoor space in NYC is so wonderful! You can make this a very sweet space to lounge and relax in! Just curious: might a rectangular umbrella be a good alternative for both lounge area and table? Yes to a large trellis w vines! It is going to be a great space!

28 days ago

I have a hunch that the turf in the third post is for her elderly dog when he’s not up for a walk and may have to stay.

28 days ago

THIS IS AMAZING!! I always go back and google schoomogle to end to find the old outdoor styling articles with shopping links – and all of those selects are never EVER still available. So thanks for this!! Trying to make some major in my own backyard – so I LOVE this – thanks again!!