There is always a tension between wanting a beautiful, modern, serene outdoor space and paying for that design! It’s easy to look on Houzz and Pinterest and see gorgeous modern outdoor space after gorgeous modern outdoor space, while knowing that the price tag for those spaces is incredibly high. For this reason, we have put together several budget modern patio ideas, thoughts, and inspirations.
Budget Modern Patio Ideas
Here are a few ideas to create a dynamic modern outdoor space without breaking the bank!
Combine Your Patio with a Deck on Grade
Often stone and concrete patio spaces can be more expensive to install than a deck on grade. Building a frame for a deck on grade, and using relatively inexpensive decking, you can create a beautiful, high-end look without breaking the bank.
And often decking is more comfortable to walk on than concrete, stone, or brick, which is certainly an advantage.
However, if a deck is made of wood and not properly maintained, it can be troublesome over time, with splitting and splintering as a hazard on bare feet, so be sure to keep your deck well-maintained.
Consider combining your patio space with an outdoor deck, and you can achieve a rather dynamic patio environment.
Stay as Close to Grade as Possible on the Deck
By keeping your deck as close as possible to the ground grade, as opposed to raised high off the ground, you keep the cost of your posts down, and you may be able to skip much of the footings and concrete structural elements that are typically required of raised decks.
Of course, be sure to check with your local building department to confirm that the deck you plan to build will meet the building code, as an improperly-built deck is quite dangerous. Especially those raised off grade significantly.
While many may lean toward constructing a stone or concrete patio when so close to grade, if you have mildly-sloping ground to deal with, or want a softer surface, a deck on grade is a great solution, and also generally significantly less expensive than a patio.
Skip the Railings if You Can
If you don’t need handrails by code, it’s definitely best to avoid installing them. While we love the cable rail systems that have become quite common in modern outdoor spaces, they have several drawbacks.
Kids can use them as a ladder, which creates a significant safety issue if the deck is positioned high off the ground. And of course, they are fairly expensive to build.
A significant cost of the labor and materials of a deck are the railings. Of course, if your deck is raised high enough, then it will need a railing, and we certainly suggest you confirm with your building department what the code requirements are for your area.
But often if the deck is only a couple of feet off the ground, you can create tiers, wide steps, plantings, and other barriers that replace the railings. See below for more ideas on avoiding handrails.
Inexpensive Decking can be Beautiful
Many homeowners have moved away from inexpensive pressure treated pine decking, and toward Composite Wood decking, often choosing exotic wood species like Ipe, Mahogany, etc.
These materials tend to be significantly more expensive per linear foot than Pressure Treated wood, and also are often far more expensive to install.
Composite woods must be pre-drilled and then screwed down, translating into a significant labor cost. And while they will last forever, they often tend to look dirty and need pressure washing rather frequently.
While we love Ipe, and many composites, a well-designed Pressure Treated deck can look fantastic if properly implemented.
For the last decade or two, pressure treated wood has been made without any arsenic in it and is no longer the health and plant hazard it once was.
As an aside, we love the deck around tree design of this one!
Use a Modern Indoor/Outdoor Rug to Brighten Your Space
A high quality indoor/outdoor rug can really excite an outdoor space and can work very well at defining your outdoor room, while also taking some of the emphasis off of a relatively inexpensive decking choice (such as pressure treated decking).
Many are concerned about putting an outdoor rug on their patio space, as it will get rained on, buggy, mildewy, etc. However, newer materials like Polypropylene fiber rugs can look fantastic while remaining outdoor-friendly.
Also, clever use of outdoor rugs can help create “sub-spaces” on a deck or patio area. If your configuration allows it, you can use some carefully-placed outdoor rugs to make a single deck area into multiple outdoor living spaces, with a spot for a bistro set, a spot for a chaise lounge, etc.
Stick with Flexible, Multi-Use Outdoor Furniture
It’s easy to spend a ton of money on outdoor furniture, and we love teak outdoor living room sets, luxury outdoor sectional sets, etc., but in many cases, there is no need to spend a large sum of money on outdoor furniture in order to get a nice look, you can use loom and leaf discounts. Stick with a decent sectional conversation set that offers a wide amount of flexibility in arrangement and color options, and then supplement from there.
Consider Indoor/Outdoor Furniture
If possible, embrace indoor/outdoor furniture, such as bean bag chairs, ceramic patio stools, etc. These can be super useful and will fit both indoors and outdoors. With modern materials, it is totally appropriate to use several different types of furniture pieces both as indoor and outdoor furniture.
Adirondack chairs work well with this sort of logic, too. They look great by the fireplace in the living room, and look fantastic outdoors! Just be sure there are no bugs living in the chairs if you decide to bring them inside!
Don’t Spend Too Much On Lighting
It’s easy to go overboard on outdoor lighting, but for the most part, a few string lights, perhaps a few solar hanging lanterns, and some creatively-used metal tiki torches or other fire element will do much of what you need. There’s generally not much need for custom built-in lighting for a patio space unless you’ve got a significant budget and don’t care about spending a little more for accent lighting.
Embrace the Unexpected
Unexpected outdoor items, whether they be up-cycled outdoor decor, a whimsical garden sculpture, or an interesting piece of patio furniture, can really break up the standard design of a patio space. Browse the Pinterest patio DIY ideas, but please, skip the toilet planter. For all our sakes!
This unexpected item can tie in nicely with the Zen View or Object, or can be different.
Think in Tiers
Having a tiered design can really improve the overall feel of your outdoor space. Wide, deep steps can become cost-free outdoor seating spots, and small tiers can subdivide a space into smaller outdoor rooms.
Tiers can be extremely useful, as they can help avoid needing to spend a good deal of money on handrails and other barrier systems in order to safely navigate changes in grade.
By using tiers, you can gradually transition to different heights and can create micro-environments that bring a great deal of dynamism to your outdoor space, while saving significant money on railings and other safety systems.
Plantings are Key
Garden plantings are perhaps the ultimate way to turn up the style in your patio, and of course, depending on what climate you live in, there are many different avenues you can take to liven up the patio space.
We very much like a mixture of garden food plants, herbs, and bushes and flowers that blend nicely with the surrounding area, and provide a mix of beautiful smells, looks, and foods!
Find a Zen View, or Focus Object
Spend some time in your space, and think about what draws your attention. It could be a beautiful tree, a lovely macrame hammock, a picturesque view, or an interesting man-made object.
Try to use this zen view, or focus object, as you might use a TV or fireplace in an indoor room, and make your room work around that object.
Plan to arrange furniture on your deck or patio in such a way that the zen view is maximized, and consider some accent lighting on the space to amp up the vibes.