Rental ReStyle: Budget-Friendly Backyard Spring Spruce-Up

Renting a house vs. owning can have its ups & downs. The upside: if something like an appliance breaks down, you can call the owner to have it repaired. The downside is though, you see opportunities for layout flow and finishes that you can't change. What do you do? You make do and make it work. Living here in Arizona the past year took some adjusting, especially when it came to our living outdoor style. In Florida, our townhome had sliding glass doors that opened up to a paver patio I designed and was FULL of greenery and privacy. Here in Arizona, the place we're renting lacks color and greenery (except for the AstroTurf which I am so grateful for vs DIRT!), but with a little thrifty TLC and savvy styling, I've been able to rescue & recreate our outdoor space for us to use before the summer heat & dust storms arrive. Here is what I did...

It started with simply cleaning up the blown leaves, pitching a few dead plants, and donating a few pieces I no longer used. After the clean-up, I was able to see what needed to be repaired and refinished. Repairing existing pieces helps saves the environment + your budget.
Afterwards, I picked up $50 worth of 'native to Arizona" plants to add a little greenery and I also picked up a few outdoor stripe cushions at Garden Ridge to help pull together my colors (green, brown, black and white)

1. We're renting so I can't paint (would love stripes!) or cover (with stucco) the cinder-block walls and buying bamboo fencing to cover would be too expensive (for a rental)  - But I can use the bump-outs to hang refinished candle panels as dividers.

2. Not all outdoor accessories need to be used in the backyard. These lanterns look great on the stoop - removed the glass and they work great with a small flowering plant.

3. Over accessorizing can happen outdoors too - Since the wind frequently blew over my bamboo poles, I put the away - and the black wicker rounds I use on the stoop (with branches) for Fall. 

4. Switching cushions from solid to stripes added a little pattern interest outside.

5. I tried using my bamboo coffee table outside, but it didn't fair well in the weather. Refinishing & relocating to the living room helped give two areas a new look.

6. Since we have a tile floor room downstairs, I made an indoor garden room (last year) and painted these black metal thrift chair pair gold. Bringing them inside helped to shift the bistro chair down and create a separate conversation area.

The sun, dust and cold temps in Arizona really did a number on outdoor metal.

  • Rethink: Switching a chair from facing one direction to another can help re-define a space.
  •  Repair: Using goggles, sanding metal, and spraying a protective sealer can help extend life of outdoor metal furniture.
  • Reuse: I use to use these candle panels in our FL dining room during the holidays. Removing the mirror mosaic tiles and taking them outside gave them a new purpose: holding mini succulents or citronella candles.
  •  Refinish: Nothing updates a space, furniture or accessories like paint: especially black.

 A FAST FIX - SAVE $$$ with PAINT!

Paint can also be used on upholstery - If you've never used DESIGN MASTER paint, you're gonna love this! I use to order this paint by the case-load for my visual department (when we actually did creative visual presentation) It dries fast, comes in a fantastic assortment of colors and is what even florist use to customize the colors of flowers. So I figured, if it's safe for flowers, it must be safe (and soft) enough for fabric -- and IT WORKED! The are the original cushions that came with my bistro set I got back in 2008, and I was able to revive them with less than one can at $7. (Note: DESIGN MASTER spray paint can be found at Michael's or learn more product info at: Design Master Color)

When we first moved in, I had in mind to try to recreate a similar layout the way we had it in Florida. When I "let it go" (the how it was) I was able to free myself to rethink the space. In Florida, we had a tree for shade - In Arizona, it helps to use umbrellas to shield the sun: they are easy to close with a windstorm, and easy to move as the sun does. Jeff scored this umbrella at the end of the season last year at JCP for only $35.

Since it doesn't rain that often here, I was able to bring out a folding table I had (I usually set for our "dinner for two" tablescapes inside) and cover it with some burlap fabric. To make the tabletop larger, I repurposed my 42" round mirror (I'm not using) and cover with a gingham small table cover I picked up at Goodwill. The X back chairs were also a Goodwill find I scored here in AZ last Spring (found 4 at 9.99 each).

Spring Alfresco... post coming up! 

This was a $5 find I picked up at Goodwill and I had previously in the guest room. Repurposing the  indoor bar cart helps create serving space outdoors, plus can also come in handy as an outdoor office space. As a serving space, the tray is on top for drinks but can move to the table or grill side. The buffet server can be brought to the top, and with an extension cord, help keep side dishes warm (like for Easter dinner alfresco!) I kept the cart in its natural wood tone, but I would like to refinish -- IF I keep it outside, I would paint the wood with exterior paint and a sealer / top-coat.

Last years thrift basket finds are working great to help refresh the look of our outdoor space. I especially love how the daisies look in the picnic basket as a container (The "How To" is coming up next)

In Florida, one of the first accessories I had added to our outdoor space was this mirror -- and I'm SO HAPPY to see it finally up on the wall here in AZ! It creates a lovely backyard focal point with the lounger (I picked up at the end of the season at JCP last year for only $36 - It pays to shop end of the season deals. The lounger now would easily go for $180 or more...

In all, this little bargain backyard rental restyle came to:

Using pieces I had - existing furniture, thrift accessories, plant containers $0
Picking up end of season finds last year: umbrella w/stand $35 + lounger $36 
Design Master Paint for Cushions: $7
Rustoleum Black Paint for existing pieces: $24
Grasses & Palm plants: $45
Stripe Cushions from Garden Ridge: $60

under $220 for my Budget Backyard Spruce up for Spring!

I'd love to do more - but this is just enough. We even brought our outdoor speakers (from FL) outside to enjoy some music (from Pandora on iPhone) while Jeff is grilling. (Yes! It's grilling time!) At night, it looks really pretty with the candles lit... and it's actually been cool to still enjoy. No matter what type of outdoor space you have - if you own or rent - a little TLC, thrift, and rescuing pieces can go a long way...

Weather permitting, have you started your outdoor Spring Spruce-Up?

Thanks for stopping by! 


  1. Lynda,

    You never fail to inspire me with the ways you think to creatively re-use what you already own. My fav tips in this post were: the paint by Design Master { coming soon to a cushion near me! } and also the idea of using your 42" round mirror as a tabletop and then covering that with burlap. Smart!

    Thanks for inspiring me to finish my own tiny outdoor space that I started working on last year... !

    Have a great day! xxoo


    1. Thanks for stopping by Leslie! Design Master has TONS of colors - one I'm SURE you will love is called Carnation PINK :)

  2. I too will be purchasing the Design Master paint. I have two fake topiaries that desperately need color again since the sun bleached them. Can I ask where you bought the fish that you filled with golf balls? My husband loves to putt in the backyard and his plastic balls end up in my plant containers...would really like to have the fish as a basket too. Everything you did was wonderful and I take away many tips and thank you for this post.

    1. Thanks Monica! I think I got that fish for hubs back in Florida at a Home Depot Garden Dept. It's terracotta I painted black xo

  3. So many incredible details here Lynda, your (new) patio looks fabulous!! (love the little gator!)

    1. Thanks Janelle! That's Jeff's little piece of South Florida! He's a GATOR you know!! xo

  4. I like how the simple things can make your worn down looking yard into a nice lounge area or anything you really could imagine. The outdoor office look is really neat, I would like to try and do something similar at my house. I will probably need to do a little landscaping before I attack the patio furniture, wish me luck!

    Luke |

  5. was the turf there when you moved in, or did you install?

  6. Thanks a lot for your information.That's a great site
    African Real estate

  7. Love the ideas, I will be trying some of these. I would like to recommend to you Premium Patio Wicker Outdoor Furniture to buy outdoor furniture in affordable price.



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