At this point in my life I think I’ve mastered the art of picking up “trash furniture” from the side of the road. Every day it seems I’m hauling some piece of garbage down the street and into my apartment or my parent’s house, and now I’ve officially added my boyfriend’s parent’s house to that list. This skill has really come in handy this summer especially because when you can’t leave your house that often, there comes a sudden motivation to rearrange, redecorate, and improve your living space. However, we all know that updating anything costs money (and usually a lot of it), so when we decided we wanted to upgrade Chase’s parent’s backyard by adding an outdoor lounge, we thought…well how much would it really cost if we go the Craigslist/free roadside furniture route?? When we were first talking numbers, we got an idea in our heads that we could do the entire thing for as close to FREE as possible.
And guess what?? We craigslisted our way into the basic foundation of an outdoor lounge. Is it functional? Yes. BUT does it look good yet? Hell no.
So we found out pretty quickly that our budget was highly unrealistic because we don’t want our free garbage furniture to look like an actual collection of garbage. So now we’re in the mindset of let’s see how we can make it look actually good and last for $1,000 total. This is a design blog after all, so now it’s time to style. play. everyday. I came up with 3 design directions for our outdoor accessories and I need your help deciding which one we should go with…
The Outdoor Lounge
First, let me tell you how we achieved our initial $100 outdoor lounge foundation (the $100 was the cost of the string lights). We started the project with a collective goal in mind that this area could be a little happy hour and hangin’ spot. I initially wrote about it in this post (alongside the rest of this amazing team and their yards) so check it out if you want to see a really sick illustration made by our photographer/HR department/head of production/EHD president, Sara (she does so much we still don’t know what to call her).
Anyway back to the yard. Here’s a little birds-eye view floor plan of their yard so you can see what the heck we’re working with:
See that massive side yard? Well, it’s been nothing but a storage spot for this rusty trampoline for 20 years. We spend a lot of time in the other sections of this yard, but this side yard has been heavily neglected by everyone but the dogs. Here’s what it looked like before we embarked on our outdoor lounge journey:
LOOK HOW MUCH SPACE AND POTENTIAL! Let me fill you in on what’s happened since this photo was taken 3 months ago. We picked up a small IKEA sofa that a neighbor had put up for grabs on the side of the street. It was small, uncomfortable, and was missing cushions (plus the cushions were a wildly weird size), but it gave us the spark we needed to get this thing together. A few days later, I posted on the blog about our backyard plans and boy oh boy I couldn’t believe what happened next. I received an email from an insanely wonderful reader named Kisha (check out her website and IG account –– she’s a very talented designer!) and she offered up this massive outdoor sectional that she was about to list on craigslist. There were some minor issues that she warned me about… the cushions had been stained by a redwood tree and looked a little bit like a murder scene. She wasn’t wrong. The other catch was that she lived in Santa Barbara so we would have to drive 3 hours each way. VERY WORTH IT.
We rented a truck and retrieved the sofa. Now, this is a very EHD scenario and we got really lucky –– but before anyone that’s doing a budget backyard feels discouraged I have to say: check craigslist and facebook marketplace! People dump their free “garbage” there all the time and all you have to do is look at the bones of whatever they’re giving away and be hopeful that you can make it less disgusting. Also, check your neighborhoods and keep your eyes peeled for free curbside furniture because I promise awesome deals are out there if you just look
Now back to the cushion debacle. Most of the cushions had one side that looked like this (see below), so we washed, bleached, and tried to stain remove the problem spots. Ultimately, it didn’t go very well but we put the badly stained sides of the cushions down and the less stained sides up and covered them with throw pillows. That’s our “for now” kind of solution while we await samples of cushion covers to come in the mail… I’ll keep you posted.
We got the sofa and chairs in the backyard, found a small outdoor rug, and then separated the bad Ikea sofa that we found on the side of the road and took the two usable parts (with cushions) and turned it into a separate little seating area. Then we bought some string lights and strung them up with this pole situation (again see below) that my dad and I figured out originally for my parent’s rooftop deck area (this pole/string light setup works like a CHARM). After all of that, the foundation is pretty much there. Here’s where we’re at now:
Everything in the above photo was FREE except for the string lights which cost us around $100 total. So we spent $100 to go from the first “before photo” to this progress point. Not too shabby.
So after we locked this foundation in, Chase and I sat down one night and we started building out our vision on the computer (because this is what we do for fun). I know how to use photoshop pretty well, so I just threw a design into the actual photo you see above. So here’s what we came up with to make this backyard a little less sad and a little more “outdoor oasis…”
It wasn’t until I showed Chase’s family this design plan that everyone stopped looking at me like I was a lunatic when I talked about how cool the outdoor lounge could be. I could tell this was the thing that made it click for everyone. They could see the vision for real and we were finally all on the same page. Well sort of on the same page. The first thing Chase’s mom said was “this is SO cool, except maybe we should switch out that one pillow.” And that’s when the designing and redesigning began.
So let me introduce you to 3 different design directions we could go in. We all like different ones, and there are no wrong answers, but boy do we need a tie-breaker. Check these out and let me know which one we should go with… A true desperate Ask the Audience!
Borderline Beachy Getaway
Rug | Umbrella | Umbrella Stand | Blue Side Table | Lanterns | Blue and White Pillow | Navy Pillow | Throw Blanket | Tassel Pillow | Gray and White Lumbar Pillow | Coffee Table | Striped Bolster Pillow | Wood Side Table | Short Plant | Tall Plant
I call this borderline beachy because honestly, I didn’t know what else to call it in comparison to the other two, but let me just say they do not live by the beach so objectively speaking, this one probably makes the least sense. I do like how calming and serene it is though, and honestly it’s the least offensive and bold option. No one has a problem with it but does anyone really LOVE it?? You tell me.
Modern Desert Oasis
Rug | Umbrella | Umbrella Stand | Black Side Table | Lanterns | Geometric Pillow | Black and White Dash Line Pillow | Throw Blanket | Block Print Pillow | Tassel Pillow | Black and White Lumbar | Coffee Table | Yellow Lumbar Pillows | Wood Side Table | Short Plant | Tall Plant
Now this one I like, a lot. I am an absolute sucker for the color yellow (it’s been my favorite since I was a kid) and it’s so happy and cool. I think this one is fresh, contemporary, and fun but does it scream family or suburbia? All the kids are into this one which sure makes sense. But is it too modern and desert-y?
Also, did you notice how the base of the sectional changed color? We have a plan for that, and it was inspired by none other than the awesome lady who gave us this sofa. She spray painted her dining chairs with rust-oleum paint and they looked SO GOOD. We thought it might be an affordable and fun way to breathe some new life into this sofa and make it our own, so that’s another question: should we spray paint the grey wicker sectional black to modernize it??
Contemporary Spanish Courtyard
Rug | Umbrella | Umbrella Stand | Blue Side Table | Lanterns | Tan and White Striped Lumbar | Blue and White Line Pillow | Throw Blanket | Gray and White Lumbar Pillow | Navy Pillow | Tassel Pillow | Coffee Table | Blue Knit Lumbar | Wood Side Table | Striped Planter| Cactus (hot tip: you can look on Facebook Marketplace for more affordable plant options!)
TOTAL COST: $1,184
Chase’s mom told me she really likes Spanish style, which makes sense because they are Mexican and Spanish and live in a suburban town called “Mission Viejo.” This one fits the vibe of their house pretty well, but is the rug too much? Will we get tired of it?
So Chase’s brother is team beachy, his sister and I are leaning toward the modern desert, Chase likes 2 and 3, and his parents are team Spanish courtyard. You guys will be the official tie-breaker
Please let me know what you guys think we should do, THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! Have a happy hump day and thanks in advance for chiming in! Xx
Opening Photo Credits: Photo by Melissa Oholendt | From: A Foolproof Way to Create an Outdoor Room with Target
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