How To: Use Indoor Furniture Outside

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There’s no reason why your outdoor living space can’t be as comfortable and stylish as your indoor areas. Quite a few indoor furniture items and furnishings can easily be used out-of-doors. On sunny days, chairs and couches can be moved outside to create a formal picnic area. Old furniture pieces can be turned into garden décor, and some surprising in-home items work well with new purposes around the yard. Instead of throwing out used furniture and accessories, recycle them into outdoor decorations.

How To: Use Indoor Furniture Outside

Recycled Flower Pots

Wondering what to do with an old, worn-out chair? What about some of the construction waste that was left over from a re-model? Some of this “junk” can be moved outdoors and made useful. Here are some ideas:

  • An old, broken-down chair can be turned into a cool planter. You’ll need a wooden chair and a flower pot. Cut a hole in the chair seat that is large enough to hold the pot. Paint the chair a bright color using outdoor paint.
  • An old bathtub, washtub or other large container can be converted into a planter box. Fill the bottom of the tub with a few inches of gravel or broken pottery to help with drainage.
  • Turn an old dresser, buffet or hutch into a potting bench. The shelves, drawers and cupboards make great storage spaces.

How To: Use Indoor Furniture Outside

Making an Outdoor Bar

Do you have a kitchen window that opens onto the patio? An old countertop or other long, flat board can be attached to the outside of the house underneath the window to create an outside bar or serving table for picnics. For some added comfort, set up a few bar stools so that party guests can sit at your window bar and talk with you while you’re putting together the picnic fixings.

Moving a Day Bed Outdoors

Create a comfortable resting spot outdoors by moving an old daybed to the porch. Here are some decorating tips for an outdoor rest area:

  • Paint the bed frame with outdoor paint. On metal frames, use a paint that prevents rust.
  • Cover the mattress with an outdoor fabric that will not fade or mildew.
  • Old bed pillows can be folded in half and stuffed inside a square pillowcase made of outdoor fabric.
  • Create an outdoor bedroom by moving the daybed into a cabana or outdoor shed.
  • Decorate the rest area with an outdoor carpet, a couple of side tables, an old coffee table and a hanging lamp.
  • Design a small conversation corner in the garden with a couple of old chairs and a small end table.
  • Add some privacy by giving some old shutters a fresh coat of paint and hanging the shutters from the eaves or by using the shutters as a panel screen.

Hanging Ornaments Outdoors

Indoor accessories and ornaments can be used outside to decorate a patio, cabana or the side of the garden shed.

  • Old picture frames can be hung on the sides of buildings.
  • Mirrors can be hung over an outside sink.
  • Drapery and fabric can double as a screen or to divide areas of a porch.
  • Chipped statues and pottery don’t have to go in the garbage. Place these pieces between plants to create garden art. Paint them, then weather the paint with sandpaper to give them an antique look to match their existing scrapes and chips.

How To: Use Indoor Furniture Outside

Designs for Outdoor Dining Rooms

If you have an old dining table, move it outdoors instead of purchasing a new picnic table. There are several ways to protect the wood including covering the table with an oilcloth tablecloth. Here are a few more tips to help your indoor wood furniture weather the elements:

  • Treated lumber and items made from teak, redwood and cedar will handle the elements better than other types of wood.
  • Waterproof glue and exterior paints will withstand the weather better than items made with interior glue and interior paint.
  • Sand interior furniture down to bare wood before painting with a couple of coats of an exterior paint. Make sure the entire wood surface area is painted.
  • Paint furniture every few years or when the wood becomes exposed.
  • Take furniture out of the rain and snow if possible.
  • Place furniture glides or some other material underneath the legs of the furniture to keep it off the ground and out of pooling water.

Moving indoor furniture outdoors will not only save you money over traditional patio furniture, but also give your yard a chic, distinctive look. Take precautions with anti-rust paint and weather treatments to ensure your wood and metal pieces spend years as beautiful backyard décor.

Last Updated: December 21, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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