Recycled furniture on patio

How to furnish your patio or deck without spending a fortune

Making your patio or deck a comfortable and attractive place to be doesn’t have to cost the earth. If you spend a bit of time sourcing second-hand or recycled furniture and accessories, you’ll save a lot of money and end up with an outdoor space that is both functional and unique. Here are our top tips for furnishing your patio or deck without spending a fortune.

Be A Bargain Hunter

You can pick up some great bargains at garage sales, flea markets & op shops.

You can pick up some great secondhand furniture if you’re prepared to spend some time hunting around.

Garage sales, op shops and flea markets are a great source of cheap furniture, it just takes a bit of time and commitment. Plan a weekend of visiting all the garage sales in your area, with a clear idea of what you’re looking for, but with an open mind to things that may pop up along the way. And make sure you have the capacity to bring your treasures home, such as a roof rack and ties or perhaps hire a trailer for the day.

For even bigger and better bargains, spend a day out of town going to a few country markets and ‘antique’ barns, which are always guaranteed to be a lot of fun and more than likely to turn up some vintage gems. And don’t be discouraged by shabby paintwork, rusted ironwork or faded cushions. These are the sorts of things that are easily transformed with a bit of elbow grease and imagination.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

Taking recycling to the next level - recycled chairs made from plastic bottles.

Taking recycling to the next level – recycled chairs made from plastic bottles.

While we’re not suggesting you go to the recycling lengths represented by these ingenious chairs, there are all sorts of ways you can re-use furniture that has seen better days. Keep an eye out for old garden benches dumped on nature strips, for example. If the timber slats need replacing, this is an easy and inexpensive way to give a bench a new lease on life. Once repaired, you can sand it and stain it, or simply give it a coat of linseed oil to protect it from the elements.

Other things to look out for that are often cast aside are wooden cable spools (like the one in the feature image), which make great tables, or old wooden boxes, which can be re-purposed as tables, chairs, or shelves for pot plants.

Turn Everyday Items into Planters

Old china teapots look great re-purposed into planters.

Old china teapots look great when they’re re-purposed into planters.

There’s no need to go out and invest in a whole lot of expensive pots when it comes time to decorate your patio with plants. Rather, use your imagination and re-purpose some household items, such as old teapots, cans, olive oil tins and saucepans. For the metal planters, use a nail and hammer to poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Planters without drainage, such as the china teapots above, should be watered sparingly to avoid water-logging. Or think about using them for growing succulents, which need very little water in general.

Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to re-purposing old stuff into planters. Check out this board on Pinterest for ideas, where things like old gumboots, car tyres, toys, cooking implements and even a bike have been transformed into something both beautiful and useful.

DIY Pallet Furniture

You imagination is the only limit, as this recycled timber pallet bench shows.

Your imagination is the only limit, as this recycled timber pallet bench shows.

Wooden pallets are not only freely available, they are one of the most versatile sources of timber for outdoor furniture, planters and accessories. Do a quick Internet search on ‘pallet furniture’ and you’ll find an endless array of step-by-step guides and tips to building almost anything out of pallets, from outdoor couches, chairs, tables and planter boxes, to shelves, chook pens and cubby houses. Or have a look at this Pinterest board – as you’ll see, there really is no end to what you can make out of a pallet or two.

The best thing about pallets is, they’re (usually) free. In fact, many factories, building sites and warehouses are happy for you to take them off their hands (there are so many pallets in circulation, it’s often cheaper to throw them out than re-use them). But always ask first, just in case!

The other thing to think about is the kind of pallet you need for what you’re planning to make. If you want to pull the pallets apart, use the lighter pine pallets, as these are easier to deconstruct and work with. But if you’re planning on using them for the base of a couch or a table, try to locate the hardwood pallets, which are slightly more difficult to work with but are definitely stronger and last longer in the elements.

Whatever your outdoor furniture needs, don’t reach immediately for your wallet. Instead, spend a bit of time tracking down some bargains and think about stuff you can re-use and re-purpose. Not only will this benefit your bottom line, it’s also good for the planet.

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