When I was thinking of small patio ideas on a budget, I primarily had one goal in mind — I wanted a place where I could spend some downtime or hang around that didn’t necessarily require going out. For one, it’s safer. Two, it’s an excuse to stop spending money on things I don’t really need, which I usually end up doing when I chance upon the nearest store or shopping mall.
Then, summer came. Taking into account my usual grind at work (full-time and part-time) that goes on for at least 12 hours a day, I realised there was no way I could survive hustling in the heat of my room with only a standard electrical fan to rely on. To make matters worse, not a single room in my mother’s childhood home in Quezon City had air conditioning to escape to.
Why having a budget-friendly patio set helps
Safety, budgetary, and weather factors aside, turning one of my small patio ideas on a budget into reality was also about how I could reduce my screen time at work. As a writer and former researcher, I’ve been working with a laptop ever since I graduated from university in 2014. Not to mention, my entire time in college demanded nearly the same brutal laptop time.
Nonetheless, I love what I do, and I can’t afford to switch to a non-computer-requiring career even if I wanted to. Rather, I figured I should focus more on transforming my lifestyle so I could find the balance between doing my best at work and taking care of my body, particularly my eyes (I just got my third pair of eyeglasses).
I thought: Why not make myself a budget patio or tambayan? After all, I love nothing more than the outdoors, al fresco dining, and fresh air (at least, air that doesn’t come out of an overheating fan). Studies about how prolonged screen time affects our overall health (mental included, of course) likewise started getting to me; and it was something I just couldn’t ignore.
Small patio ideas on a budget: what you’ll need
With all that said, how then did I manage to make one of my small patio ideas on a budget a reality? What I can tell you straight up is that it (surprisingly) wasn’t difficult. And even if I didn’t put a lot of time, money, or effort into it compared to the home makeovers or improvement activities of other people, my DIY tambayan has certainly been helping a lot. In fact, here are all the fundamental things I got:
1. Outdoor space, no matter how small
Luckily, this I didn’t have to worry as much about. As I’ve mentioned, I currently live in my mother’s home in the city. It comes with a front yard mainly used as a pathway between the gate and the house. It easily gets flooded during the rainy season. But otherwise, it’s the perfect spot to build a budget patio or tambayan.
If you don’t have the same private outdoor space, an alternative can be setting up one right beside a window. The basic idea is to have as much access to natural light and ventilation as possible. This can also apply if you live in a terrace-less condominium unit or there’s just no available space in your place.
2. Budget-friendly foldable table and chair
I have to admit that until I realised I finally needed them, I never gave foldable furniture the attention that they deserve. Because of our limited clean outdoor space, a foldable table and chair became my salvation. This also helps prevent it from looking more crowded than it already is (we keep our washing machine, bicycle units, and other things nearby).
I decided to look for them on Facebook Marketplace and Carousell, rather than the usual Shopee and Lazada. With the option for same-day delivery, I’d be able to just buy them and lessen the chances of feeling buyer’s remorse. In the end, I got my custom-made foldable wooden table for ₱700 (including varnishing) and foldable beach chair for ₱500.
3. Any kind of entertainment that works
You can really get creative with this one. In my case, I opted for games, books, food, and music. For these, I have an I Spy book (the exact copy my siblings and I used to play with when we were young); any of the books from my room (I’m currently reading Into Thin Air, which I bought in Nepal); a Happy Snackin’ tub; and a portable speaker that I like to borrow from my brother.
While I often have these on standby, mostly I find myself simply playing comfort music and spend hours staring into nearby trees, the sky, or people passing by particularly on a warm clear day. Essentially, the same things I would enjoy when dining in cafes or hanging out in a foreign destination. Really, it depends on the kind of hobbies you love!
How to make the most of a home tambayan
Finding the balance between being an outdoor enthusiast and a work-from-home writer was, for most of the part, challenging. It’s not like I could just decide to work in al fresco cafes or even our yard any time I felt like it. Besides not having safe and convenient access to a power outlet, doing so meant dealing with outside noises and other distractions.
Considering the circumstances, here’s how I’ve been able to make one of these small patio ideas on a budget work to my (or even your) advantage.
1. Use at select times of the day
I use my budget patio set during breakfast, the remaining minutes of my lunch break, and right after work five days a week. More than the “relatively fresh” air, I get to use this time to get much-needed Vitamin D while allowing my eyes to rest from my laptop screen now and then. On weekends where I do flexible freelance work, I use it as an impromptu workspace; but only until my laptop’s battery lasts.
2. Disinfect the furniture regularly
After use, I normally fold my table and chair to keep them out of the way. But that doesn’t always exempt them from dirt, insects, and other things that might render them unclean while in the open. My siblings also made it a habit to use the table for online deliveries. To keep them sanitised, I wipe the table with alcohol and spray Lysol on the chair regularly.
3. Recycle on top of buying items
Before buying the custom-made foldable table and brand-new foldable chair, I first scoured Facebook Marketplace and Carousell for used ones. I also looked at the things we had at home to help me save more. But the only one I could reuse was a worn-out plastic chair, which I use alternately with the foldable chair.
4. Leave less room for electronics
In the time we’re in now, I honestly thought it was impossible to survive an entire hour without looking at my phone, listening to music, or watching a movie during free times. Although I still turn to my go-to song playlist when I’m at my budget tambayan, I keep it to a minimum. Aside from powering down, staying in my DIY patio is a great way to reconnect with our pet cats.
5. Again, be as creative as you like
While I just stuck with a basic table, chair, and entertainment set, feel free to decorate your mini patio set as extravagantly or simply as you want. If you’re a dedicated plant-lover, you can even place a potted plant on the table or invest in fancier furniture. That is, if you’re after a specific cafe-like ambience and style.
Like others who pulled off their small patio ideas on a budget, I set up mine largely on a whim. As others conveniently resort to deactivating their social media accounts or travelling during the pandemic to mellow out, I don’t have that same luxury. Instead, I found refuge in my budget tambayan. It was through this inhibition that I was able to be creative and find something to let me destress that’s safe and just about as effective.