How one family found outdoor furniture for less

Outdoor Furniture for Less

by Chantal King

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The weather is warm and everyone wants to eat outside. Outdoor living has boomed, and it's no wonder. Creating outdoor living areas doubles your space and lets you enjoy nature, whether you have a deck, a porch, a sunroom, a backyard, balcony, or patio. It can be as easy as setting up a gazebo or screen tent and adding outdoor furniture.

The problem is in the price tag. Outdoor furniture is as expensive as indoor furniture, if not more. We decided our ten-year-old plastic table and mismatched chairs had served us well, but not even a new tablecloth could disguise the sagging middle where I'd taped the broken holes or the leg that always sat crooked.

I started shopping for a bistro set and almost unhinged my jaw! I found a three piece set with a metal table and two chairs at Home Depot without a price tag. I asked a salesclerk, and they couldn't find it on the computer. They agreed to sell it as a display model, so I offered $50. The guy said, "Oh, you're smooth!" Then he called a manager to okay the transaction.

When the manager arrived, he said that the set cost $159.99, but he could sell it for $130 since it was a floor model. I told him the most I was willing to spend was $100, and he said, "Sorry, no deal."

I left and went shopping at several thrift stores. I found a metal table with a glass top. It was rusty but only $3. Then I discovered a small white metal chair for $1.50. At yet another store, I found the same exact style of chair, but it was gold. The price tag said $25, but I talked the owner into taking $10.

Once I arrived home, I spray-painted my furniture a hammered silver color. In less than ten minutes, the set was transformed into a darling bistro set! I still needed cushions, so I once again went cruising for outdoor cushions.

Since the chairs had round bases, I looked for round cushions. I had no luck, so I bought a vinyl, fabric backed tablecloth for $5.96 and sewed two cushions. After straightening the edge, there was plenty left for a matching tablecloth. I stuffed the cushions with cut up plastic bags to ensure they are weather proof. I added ties to secure them to the chairs. The best part is that I spent less than $25 for the whole bistro set!

We were very fortunate this year during our city's annual cleanup week. This is when residents can throw away anything on the curb, and I do mean anything. I told my husband that I wanted to find cast iron furniture and deck furniture. On the first day we went curbside cruising, I spotted an old rusty, cast-iron bench! One leg was broken off, but it was lying next to it, so I dragged it to the pickup, hoping I could fix it up.

Later I found a cast-iron birdbath with a large crack in the basin. Smiling with delight, I loaded it up, along with two Adirondack-style chairs. They seemed sturdy, but needed refinishing.

Then the fun began. First, I attached the broken leg to the bench with coat hanger wire. Then I painted it black. It looked like brand new! I had thought it would just be a decoration, but it is actually very sturdy. The birdbath makes an excellent holder to plant flowers, since the crack provides drainage.

The wooden chairs just needed a fresh coat of paint and now my "free" furniture graces the deck at our lake camper. After comparing the sale prices in the Sunday circulars, I estimate I saved over $300. Plus, I had the joy of doing it myself.

Sometimes all it takes is a discerning eye. If you can look past a little rust, ugly paint or a minor defect, you can see the beauty waiting within discarded items. I am pleased with our "new" furniture and know that we will enjoy our outdoor living for years to come.

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