Design & DIY

How to furnish your patio on a budget

Revive Your Space

If there’s one thing I’m sure we can all agree on, it’s that people love to be outside at the cottage. If we can’t be right outside, we like to be on a screened-in porch as close as we can get without being eaten alive. But having a comfortable place to sit or recline is key to enjoying the dock or patio.

Patio furniture can be quite pricey, especially once all of the cushions and pads and chairs are added to the package. But there are ways to build your oasis on a budget and still create a space that looks great. For example, go with the classic Muskoka chair—they’re available in a variety of price points and extremely comfortable.  

Paint them all the same colour for impact.


Or paint each one a different colour for every member of the family (just don’t stencil “Mama Bear” or “Papa Bear,” which borders on corny. (No offense!)

Multi Muskokas
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Another thing I often see at cottages are gliders. I think ours is 50 years old, but it’s still my favourite seat on the veranda. Sometimes all they need is new coat of paint and a newly upholstered seat cushion. And occasionally some WD-40—my husband de-squeaks the glider just for me at the beginning of every season.

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Nothing adds a splash of colour like a vintage metal chair painted in almost any colour. And you’re even better off if you have a sister like mine—she found two in the garbage to match the ones I already had. You can’t beat that price!

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And if you don’t have a sister like mine, you can buy this style of chair brand new these days. They last forever and take a beating.

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Patio dinners are amazing at the cottage. But there are a lot of pieces to buy with a dining set once you start adding all of the chairs you need. My advice is to get a very simple, sturdy set for a good price at a big-box store, like the one below:  

plain table
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And decorate it however you’d like. The flair comes from the cushions and table setting on top of a simple base—always a good design principle to follow.

Decorated table
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Speaking of simple, you can’t get simpler than the good old-fashioned picnic table. Plus, I really can’t see picnic tables going out of style. If you have a huge family, get two and arrange them together for a massive seating arrangement.

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But for those of us who have a table that has seen better days, this is why the tablecloth was invented (I may be making that up, but it sounds right, so let’s go with it). Tablecloths are an excellent and inexpensive way to dress up any table. They will make you feel good about your surroundings, which is really the point, right? Have a wonderful patio season!

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