How 3 Designers Spent $300 to Upgrade their Patios

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Erica Buehler

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Published on June 8, 2021

Summertime is officially here and to us, that means refreshing drinks, barbecues with friends, and spending all our free time in beautifully styled outdoor spaces. Every detail, from the throw blanket tossed over the sofa to the string lights above, makes a difference in the comfort (and pride!) of your patio.

If the combination of quarantine and winter had you neglecting your patio space, now is the perfect time to freshen things up with some simple rearranging and redecorating love. Luckily, three of our designers recently took on a patio project, and they did so on a $300 budget. We call that a win-win. So if you’re ready to refresh your patio and need some inspiration, check out these three unique takes that will impress your friends without stressing your wallet.

Focused Styling Makes a Big Statement

If elements from different styles catch your eye, don’t fret about picking and choosing just for consistency’s sake—more often than not, you can mix pieces that you love and still create harmony in your space. Outdoor spaces are especially flexible when it comes to blending different styles. “I am seeing a creative use of space wherein clients are making their outdoor spaces multi-functional,” says designer Brady Burke. “I’m seeing a mix of lounge and dining spaces to maximize the potential time spent outside. From a style perspective, I am noticing a nice mix of modern and organic materials, a focus on comfort, and a heavy use of earth tones and naturally-occurring color schemes.”

For Burke, the patio space to design was a historically unused front deck. The goal was to create a more appealing and attractive space that would draw people outside. “It’s not a huge space but it is the main entrance to our house, so I wanted to add some detail to the front door space while also creating a small seating area to allow us to enjoy the deck. I knew I wanted a mix of furniture and decor so it would be both stylish and functional.” Sprucing up the front door called for a few small touches that make a big aesthetic difference: thoughtful planters and a bold, new doormat. And if you’re truly trying to stay under budget but love those Workington planters, these budget-friendly Madison pots make great substitutes.


Speaking of budget-friendly items, we know it’s tough to penny pinch especially when it comes to outdoor furniture. “Outdoor furniture needs to be durable and well-made to withstand the elements, which in turn makes it more expensive. So when I chose to add seating and a side table, that ate into the budget pretty significantly.” For the seating area, this simple and sturdy three-piece set from Wayfair checked all the boxes for this patio restyle, layering in this foundational Loganton area rug for a modern touch.

When staying within your budget, it’s also important to consider all of your styling options. Does your space simply need a fresh coat of paint, or could a few new furniture pieces do the trick? Look at the space in its entirety, evaluate your lusts versus musts, and prioritize what you can accomplish today as well as what you’d like to save for later. While you might love a major redo, it’s good to know that small and simple changes can make a big impact.


The Transformative Power of Textiles

Perhaps you’ve already got all the patio furniture, but it still feels a little flat and isn’t quite giving you that “backyard oasis” vibe of your dreams. We’ve been there (proof is in the pictures). Designer Shelby Girard worked with her client’s existing patio set on her budget redesign, and wanted “to leverage the design goodness she already had, but with intentional (read: cost-conscious) accessorizing that would make for an eye-catching, lounge-worthy space.” Making choice investments in an outdoor rug, a few pillows, and some lanterns, Girard waved her magic design wand to convert the small patio into a stylish retreat that’s both good-looking and comfortable. It’s the quintessential “She’s All That” makeover moment, patio edition (sans stair tripping, if you remember the film.)


If you’re not exactly sure what you’re going for with your patio space, taking stock of your interior style is a great place to start for a harmonious look and feel. “The goal is to unite the two spaces and create a smooth transition from inside to outside – essentially an outdoor extension of your living room.” Lo and behold, she stuck to a minimalist black and white palette, bold linear patterns, and a bit of natural texture for an organic modern vibe.


And, as a general rule when trying to stick to a budget: remember that the little things can definitely add up. “I didn’t realize how much plants and flowers chip away at your budget, and I forgot to account for DIY supplies like paint brushes. Don’t assume you have these lying around and make sure to consider the costs of DIY supplies when deciding whether to work with what you have or buy something new.” 

Being Mindful of Where Budget Meets Style

It’s very easy to get carried away when styling, especially if there’s a certain aesthetic you’re trying to achieve. Let’s face it, not every “perfect piece” is budget-friendly. But getting the results you want is definitely doable, even with some added price limitations. For designer Melissa Wagner, it took a lot of thought to decide how to tactfully design her outdoor space. “I really had to consider where I wanted to invest and which pieces were OK to fall on the inexpensive side. Because I want to be able to actually sit in this space, I invested in throw pillows but saved on lanterns since those are more for ambiance rather than function.” Wagner combined simple yet bold pillows with eye-catching patterned ones to add contrast.


Like Burke, Wagner was also designing a front-door space, looking to create a warm welcome for future guests and “to add balance, bring in a lot of texture, and make it comfortable enough to even sit with a cup of coffee for a breath of fresh morning air.” This included adding an area rug and a bench to offer extra seating and comfort for household members and visitors alike. And, as both of the other designers did (and as Wagner notes is certainly a trend this year) planters were incorporated to add some healthy greenery to the space (if you’ve been looking for a sign to invest in more plants, this is it).


Looking to up your outdoor living game for summer? Take the Havenly style quiz and find the perfect designer to tackle your dream patio project.

Words by Erica Buehler