Dining On A Dime -- 4 Steps To Creating An Inexpensive, But Fabulous, Outdoor Room

If you want an outdoor dining room, you might worry that you will have to spend a fortune to get something everyone can enjoy in comfort and style. But, you can do it even on a shoestring budget. Here are 4 simple steps to getting your perfect dining space for less.

Build a Solid Base. Start your outdoor room on a firm footing by focusing on the floor materials first. If you don't already have a space with well-placed and solid flooring, you can create one inexpensively with flagstones placed in a sand or gravel base. Stamped concrete or simple pavers also create low-maintenance flooring materials that look nice enough for fine entertaining. 

Canopy It. Adding a cover over the dining area allows it to be used whether it rains or shines. And while you may want a solid, permanent roof, you can get a lot of use out of temporary or less solid coverings. A sail canopy, for example, is a simple canvas cover connected to three poles to form a triangle of shade protection over your table. Pergolas, a large umbrella on an arm, or a lattice can all add shade and protection for little money. 

Create a Theme. Creating a great outdoor dining area is less about fancy decorations and more about designing a cohesive and enjoyable space. Before you go shopping for patio furniture, decide on the feeling you want to create -- formal, casual, quirky, cozy, or woodsy, for example -- and what you want the focal point of the area to be. If the yard features a great view, you can decorate to highlight it. If you'd rather have your guests focus on each other over a great meal, you may want to use a single large table and chairs as a central focus point. Deciding on your style and key elements first will help you immensely when you start shopping.

Focus on Accents. If you can't afford to spend a lot of money on expensive patio furniture sets, purchase simpler versions and dress them up with accents. A basic patio table and chairs can be dressed up with colorful upholstery or patterned pillows. Hang a unique and eclectic pendant lamp over a distressed picnic table for a fun combination. Add thin and flowing curtains around the dining table to create an island feeling. A rolling metal or wood cart can serve as a great, 20s-inspired bar without taking up much room. Check out companies that sell outdoor furniture for more ideas.

By following these few steps when planning and executing your outside dining area, you can create a fantastic space you'll love to share with friends and family.