How to Create an Outdoor Room for Under $1000.
As the last days of winter crawl by, the confines of living in a 1200SF house can take it’s toll. Even after spring blessed me with warm days to enjoy a cup of coffee on my deck, that simple luxury was not without it’s problems. As they say in Tennessee, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait 30 minutes and it will change”. With an open deck it was common place to be chased back indoors by the blistering sun or by an unexpected rain shower.
I have two French doors in my kitchen that open onto my deck, which at best, could only be enjoyed as weather permitted and that was something that the bird watcher inside of me was not willing to compromise on. I investigated building a roof over the deck but that idea was going to cost several thousand dollars which did not fit within my project budget of $1000 or less.
The wheels in my head started turning. I measured my deck and headed to Lowes in search of a Cabana. They had several options in stock ranging from $250 – $1500. The model that perfectly fit the dimensions of my deck cost $500 and came with a high vented roof. The sides could be left open, zipped with screen to keep out bugs, or could be completely enclosed for privacy. After bolting the four corner posts to the deck, it was secure from taking flight during high winds. Step one was complete. Now that I had a roof over my head I assessed the space. It was time to transform it into the vision that was in my head. I re-purposed a glider, two side chairs and end tables from the patio, and arranged them into a seating area that would be conducive to conversation. Then it was time to decorate.
A trip to Home Good rewarded me with a variety of treasures to complete an Asian/Rainforest style oasis. This included new cushions for the glider and chairs, colorful eclectic throw pillows, elephant wind chimes, a wooden Buddha statue, weather resistant table lamp, knick knacks, exotic pots for a palm tree and other plants that would fill the Cabana. I even popped into a second hand store where I purchased a birdcage that I planted with ivy and other trailing plants which I hung from the frame of the side wall. I rolled out the 5×7 grass rug and placed the carved Teak Wood coffee table that was also purchased at Home Goods in front of the glider. It was then that my outdoor living room came to life. It provided much needed shade from the hot afternoon sun and protected me from those pop up rain showers. The more plants I put into the space the more lush and tropical it became. The ugly old standard deck had been transformed into a tranquil sanctuary.
The next project for the space was to make an outdoor chandelier out of rattan balls purchased from Home Goods. I stuffed clear Christmas lights into each ball then ran the cords up to a wooden mount that was made out of 2 x 4’s painted black. An extension cord running from the top of the cabana down to the side pole of the frame to an outside outlet provided the source of electricity that illuminated the new fixture.
Nighttime in the Cabana was amazing. The allure to sit beneath the lights and take in the sounds of the night, to watch the fireflies and to hear the crickets was intoxicating. The sound of water tricking down the fountain just beyond the steps of the deck added to the tropical rainforest effect. I had sat out on my deck many times before at night but it paled in comparison to sitting in the cabana.
For approximately $900 I basically created not only additional living space but “another country” in which I could transport myself to anytime I decided to walk out my kitchen door. Now, when you open the front door of my home, you have a view straight through the French doors of the kitchen out to the new “room”. The outdoor space makes the house feel much larger than it really is. Guests no longer sit in the living room during the warmer months. They find themselves drawn into the cabana to enjoy a glass of something cold while engaging in hours of conversation among the foliage in my little 10′ x 12′ piece of paradise. Now I can watch the mourning doves frolic beneath the bird feeders in the backyard and the squirrels perform their flights of acrobatics as long as my heart desires; rain or shine.