Doesn't it seem like you're always looking for some quiet nook in the house where you can be blissfully alone? Somehow, all the good spots are already taken.

Short of packing up and heading off to a desert isle, your only alternative may be to claim your place in the sun in your own back yard.The really attractive part of furnishing your outdoor retreat is that it can be done so inexpensively: Most of the "decorations" are already there (that is, trees, flowers and a pretty blue ceiling).

Naturally, you'll want to think about seating first, and there are plenty of outdoor wooden and metal benches and chairs to choose from. Bring out pillows and throws from the house to enhance the living room setting (remember to take them in at night). Stain secondhand wooden chairs in sorbet colors. But if you're serious about relaxation, you really should have a hammock. It amazes me how underutilized they are. Where else are you going to find a "couch" that completely cradles your body and lets you swing lazily at the same time?

If you can't find a spot where you can use trees and shrubbery as camouflage, erect latticework and train climbing vines up the sides and over the top. Just as you decorate your interior walls with pictures and objects, enliven your fence by adding shelves where you can display pots of herbs or trailing vines.

Baskets filled with flowers hung from nails or pegs are also nice touches, as are grapevine wreaths decorated with whatever's blooming outdoors that day.

Want to accessorize further? Stack clay flower pots upside down in gradually smaller sizes from the ground up and top with a large clay saucer attached with construction glue. Fill with water and you have a birdbath.

If there isn't a flower garden nearby, fill a child's wagon with an array of blooming pots and wheel it on over to your chosen spot. Pile a basket with colored stones and place it on a tree stump for an instant "coffee table." Line a pathway leading to your nook with oversize seashells.

Now that you've created your little piece of quiet, try to make the most of it before the crowds arrive.