Exterior Decorating on a Budget

Many times we are so busy decorating the interior of our home , we forget about the view most people see first...the outside! Perhaps we all believe improvements to the exterior of the home must be expensive. Not true! What a better place to showcase your clever creativity than where every passerby can see!

Your best friend here is a building site. Find out where they are building new homes in your area, and go talk to the contractor in charge of the site. Most of these sites have scrap piles where they discard huge amounts of materials they can’t use, either because they aren’t the right size, a mistake was made, or a myriad of other reasons. Ask the contractor if you can help yourself to their scrap pile, most are more than willing to let you.

Here you can find large pieces of ½ inch siding, scrap wood, broken tiles, vinyl flooring remnants, and possibly even leftover paint or countertop material. Look at everything with the eye of the budget decorator, you can make something out of all these things!

Use the siding and scrap wood to make garden furniture, decorative shutters for your windows, or as architectural elements on your existing features. For instance, we have several large 6x6 columns on our porch, very plain lumber. We are using scrap 1x4 and 1x2 to add wrap around moldings on these columns, and painting them to contrast. It looks like a custom porch column! You could add simple shapes as appliqués to doors, gable areas, or empty walls.

Use broken tiles to make a mosaic table for the porch, or create mosaic stepping stones for the yard. You could even update a tired old picnic table with the tiles. Create a wood plaque with the scrap wood, glue or paint your house numbers on it, and add mosaic tiling around the border for a very expensive look.

If you can find a fencing company willing to give you their discards, make garden posts for hanging lanterns or plants from posts. Be sure to cement these in the ground. Use the boards to make rustic planters, or cut them down to make picket style garden fencing. Make an shingle style mailbox.

Vinyl flooring scraps can be made into floorcloths for your porch or patio with a little paint and polyurethane, and can be as decorative or as simple as you want, custom matching your homes colors and styles.

As you can see, with a little bit of hunting, you can find the materials to make the exterior of your home look like a masterpiece for almost no money, and you are saving a lot of good materials from our waste dumps!

Kathleen Wilson is the editor of The Budget Decorator, a free ezine and newsletter dedicated to the "budget impaired" home decorator. Visit her online at http://www.thebudgetdecorator.com for more free ideas and projects, and for info on her workshop

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