Apartment Living DIY: Outdoor Space

Apartment Living DIY is a monthly series where I spruce up something in our apartment. Adam and I currently rent a small one bedroom apartment and always get an itch to customize. Unfortunately we can’t knock down walls or upgrade appliances so we thought we’d work on a fun temporary DIY each month.  Last month I shared a light fixture DIY and today we’re sprucing up our outdoor area! Obviously this DIY might not apply to your apartment outdoor space (perhaps you don’t even have much of anything outside) but I hope it will spark ideas. Below is a photo of what we were working with:

We share a small concrete patio with our next door neighbors and if you walk down a few steps there is a shared grassy area. We decided that we wanted to host a fun cookout next weekend and it was looking a little “blah” back there. As you can see, we had a snow shovel and a random piece of wood just….sitting there. I use the railings to hold my herbs and that’s about it. Adam measured the exact space we were working with and we set a budget of $100. Our goals were:

  • Creating shelving space around the edges of the patio
  • Attain at least 2 chairs
  • Control the bug problem (lots of gnats and mosquitos)
  • Fun plants!

We attempted to find most of what we were looking for at thrift stores but that proved to be too expensive (most outdoor furniture is sold in sets). We did all of our shopping at Target and Home Depot. Below is everything we bought:

Here’s a breakdown on costs:

  • 2×8 foot piece of wood cut down to the lengths we needed – $5.82
  • Screws – $7.97
  • Four 6″ x  8″ shelf brackets – $4.68
  • 3 plants – $13.94
  • 3 Terra cotta pots with saucers – $9.75
  • 4 Citronella candles – $4.88
  • 2 Bamboo torches with bitefighter fuel – $14.96
  • 2 Target outdoor plastic chairs – $19.22

Total cost was $81.22 before tax! Technically we still have $18.78 to spend but I’ll share some of my ideas on that later on in this post. Here are some photos explaining exactly what we did with all of these materials.

First of all, Adam had to fix up the corner section of the patio. He removed the piece of wood covering the cement post and reattached it. Once that was in place, we took brackets and essentially created a shelf right below the rail.

Since our makeshift patio isn’t really perfect, we made sure to use a leveler.

Once we put up the shelves on both sides, we added our plants and candles! Look how pretty it looks!

We made use of our chairs too! They’re sitting out in the little grassy area and we still have yet to place our torches into the ground. It was a little too hard so hopefully it’ll rain a few times and then we can plant them near the chairs.

So there it is! Our little outdoor space is looking a lot better for the summer months. We might not have the prettiest “lawn” or the ability to make drastic changes but I think this will hold us over until we buy a house next year!

Any fun, inexpensive ways that you’ve spruced up your outdoor area? Sometimes even a few plants and a wind chime can brighten up an area. Any ideas on what I should spend the last $18.78 on? Some ideas that I had were:  a nice big blanket that I can use in the yard to lay on, a cooler, or some plants I could hang from the balcony above. 

20 Comments

  1. Oh I love it when people take a little nothing space & turn it into an inviting, beautiful place! That’s the optimist in me.

    I really like your choice in plants & I like the homey touch the candles add. Created a new & improved space for less than $100, with money to spare, I’m impressed Allison!

  2. It looks lovely! My boyfriend and I just did something similar. I need to post about that, actually!

  3. lights. you totally need lights. i’m currently redesigning out back patio space (warm red, patio – barf) and the thing i am most excited about is outdoor string lights!!

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/best-outdoor-string-lights-201-120594

    • Yes!! That was on my list but we have no real way of plugging them in (and there’s not enough sun to power solar lights). I’m thinking of finding some type of battery operated lanterns?

  4. I can’t believe you did all of this for less than $100. Fantastic DIY!

  5. You did a fantastic job, it looks so inviting!

  6. Love the color of the chairs. Amazing post and inspiring!

  7. Jessica R

    As soon as get outdoor space, I’m going to use this DIY! Thanks for sharing, it really looks lovely!

  8. This is such a great DIY! We are stuck in a 1BR apartment too, with only a small balcony. We’ve found that gardening and caring for herbs (in our tiny planter box) gives us something fun to do. Love how you built a shelf for additional space. Awesome!

  9. nice, i love diy and your tips alot

  10. kellylaine

    allie! will you be my tudor once we move into our new place? i need this.

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