Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright.

Don’t get me wrong; I like my new little home, but it can be a wee bit on the dark and snug side. My energy bills are comparable with those of my former full size house because there is only so much that the light from one window and one patio door can do. So, psychologically and spatially, it’s been a blessing to expand my home out into my garden patio area, adding about a hundred bonus square feet.

Whatever the size of your potential patio, you may want to add to it or do some upgrades for just a modest amount of money, as opposed to easily spending a thousand dollars to do so.

To keep my expenses low, I’ve worked on the basic ideas of recycling what I have and buying good deals on new pieces, big and small.

For the larger pieces, I had an old garden bench that needed some brightening up so I covered it with three colourful patio cushions from the dollar store for $6 total. I had two bulky pieces inside my place, a mini fridge and a massage table, that I really didn’t need or have space for, but that I didn’t want to get rid of, and so I waterproofed them with plastic and then covered them with nice tablecloths, making them into a plant stand, and an ottoman, to neatly tuck under the bench.

For other plant holders, I took two old, neglected stands, and a small, old coffee table, that hadn’t found a home inside my place, and prettified them with affordable plants. An unattractive storage unit covered with a $3 plastic but bright and pretty flower themed tablecloth serves well for hiding gardening tools, and as a home for herbs. In total, I spent $9 for three similar tablecloths from the dollar store for different purposes.

I spent a fair bit on my herbs just for convenience but I know if I were to travel a bit farther, I could spend more like $1.99 for a pot of basil as opposed to $4.99. And of course growing herbs from scratch would be more affordable than that. I also got a couple substantial hanging baskets for $12 each, as opposed to twice that price, and several other plants for reasonable costs, in total spending about $70 on plants. Maybe next year I will be organized and grow my own flowers from seeds for much less.

For the larger piece of the table and chairs, I tried the local second hand shop to no avail, even viewing things with the eye of a painter, and I also went to the mall and checked out several of the larger stores. Most of the units were too big and too expensive but after a substantial search I found what I was looking for at Canadian Tire – a modest table and two chairs for $150 plus tax. The great bonus with that purchase was a $30 gift card that they were giving with purchases of that amount or more as part of the celebration for Canada Day.

To help tone down the blazing sun a wee bit, I also wanted a good sized patio umbrella, or sunbrella, but was having a hard time finding one that looked nice enough and so I spread the word in my apartment building. Well, okay, I just told a couple people, but sure enough my kind neighbours had one to spare indefinitely and it’s in great shape. Lastly, I needed a substantial stand for the umbrella and so I waited for a special sale at my local hardware store and got a nice looking piece for $40 with tax.

In total for all my upgrades and making a patio I’m fairly proud of, I spent $270, when I know that one could easily spend hundreds more for a similar effect. Yes, my pieces may be more of a mix and match but the great thing with the items like tablecloths is that you can coordinate different pieces into a theme for so little money. I went with yellow and green this year but will easily be able to change that scheme for very little output next year.

Topped with a couple of vases that normally hide most of the year in the kitchen cupboard, along with a Canadian flag or two, my patio and I are ready for my first special guests this week.

Wishing you, and your patio, a bright summer full of fun and sun and colourful savings.

P.S. If you feel like doing any reading this summer, you can check out my five books on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/rachelalbang

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