Table of Contents
Whether you are looking to host friends and family outside or you want to create a quiet retreat for yourself, with a few smart design tricks, you can transform your small patio into an outdoor oasis that is uniquely yours. From must-have outdoor design features, creative ways to set up privacy walls, and choosing furniture that fits your design needs, these small outdoor patio ideas will help you create an al fresco space that will have you sneaking outside just to enjoy your view.
1. Make a Small Space Seem Bigger
álo + Hane Design/aloandhanedesign
Use the same design tricks for decorating small spaces inside when you’re decorating outside to make your small patio feel bigger. Choose furniture with a small footprint and skip the extra large pieces that will clutter your space.
When choosing an area rug, bigger is better. A large area rug will fill the space and won’t make your patio look small and choppy. Instead of one large table, opt for smaller tables that can be moved around the patio and can be used as side tables, ottomans or extra seating. Take advantage of vertical space for decor, plants and storage. This will also draw your eyes up and make the patio feel larger than it is.
2. Get Creative with Your Privacy Walls
Melissa Gerstle Design/melissagerstledesign
If your neighbors are feeling a little too close for comfort, a privacy wall can give you the seclusion you need so you can enjoy your outdoor space without prying eyes next door. While a fence will do the trick, a less traditional option gives you the privacy you want while creating an interesting focal point for your small patio.
A suspended greenery wall looks like a piece of natural art outdoors, but if you need a less-permanent option, hanging outdoor drapery panels or bamboo shades can create a whimsical wall. Strategically placed plants or climbing flowers can easily keep neighbors on the other side of your patio while offering pops of color.
3. Have Fun With Your Furniture
While you’ll need to choose furniture that can withstand the elements, outdoor furniture doesn’t have to be boring or even traditional. Instead, choose pieces that fit your personality and design aesthetic. From a great accent chair or an outdoor daybed, to a couch that doubles as a swing, you’ll want furniture that gives you the space to entertain, relax and enjoy the outdoors. So if a matching set of chairs and a table don’t work for you, choose pieces that do.
4. Add Style to Your Flooring
Gorgeous floors aren’t just for the inside of your home. There are plenty of outdoor flooring options that can instantly upgrade your patio. Choose from options like large pavers surrounded by river rocks or grass, wooden tiles that lay right on top of your existing floor, or faux grass that will look pristine all year long. Since you’ll be covering a smaller space, changing the flooring of your patio will be more budget friendly and have a big payoff for your patio design.
5. Incorporate Water Into Your Design
Melissa Gerstle Design/melissagerstledesign
While a swimming pool might not be part of your small patio design, you can still incorporate a water feature that adds natural ambiance and relaxing sounds without the need for a lifeguard. Traditional water fountains are perfect for small spaces and are easy to maintain. There are also more permanent solutions like fountains that attach to your patio walls or bubbling springs that are installed in the ground. So depending on your design and budget, there are plenty of water features to choose from.
6. Warm Up Your Space With Fire
Melissa Gerstle Design/melissagerstledesig
Create a cozy and warm outdoor space by adding a fire element to your patio. Keep the flames small with a tabletop fire pit or create ambiance with an outdoor fireplace. Looking for more out of your fire? Then a bonfire pit is the perfect option for turning up the heat on your small patio. Not only will the fire element serve as the centerpiece of your patio, but you’ll be able to enjoy more nights outside, even if the weather gets chilly. S’mores, anyone?
7. Bring the Color Outside
Tatanisha and Derrick Worthey/thiswortheylife
Whether the color palette of your patio coordinates with the inside of your home or you take a completely different approach outside, don’t forget to bring the color outdoors. Mother Nature is giving you a lot to work with, but there are plenty of places to add hues and personalize your space. From cushions and pillows on your furniture, area rugs that add color, pattern and texture, to painting outdoor elements like fences and privacy walls, add pops of color and bring your outdoor space to life.
8. Create Art Outside
You’ll want to spend more time al fresco if your small patio feels like a well designed outdoor room. So use the untapped wall space to add character and well placed art. From outdoor signs, hanging gardens, or painted murals, there are so many ways to make your walls outside feel inviting and to show off your design skills. Just be careful that the items you choose can withstand living outside or you’ll be swapping your art every season.
9. Use Creative Lighting Solutions
When the sun goes down, outdoor living has just started. However, you’ll want to make sure you’ve incorporated plenty of lighting options so you and your guests aren’t left in the dark. Usually, outdoor spaces have an overhead light. While this is great for security and to illuminate the entire space, these lights are sometimes harsh and the fixtures are outdated.
Luckily, this is an easy upgrade, and one that you can change yourself. Now it’s time to consider lighting options that are more fun. String lights give off a soft glow and add character to your outdoor space and lanterns and electric candles are fun design additions that double as lighting options.
10. Share the Space
Diana Casadora Designs/casadoradesigns
Even though you are working with a small space, creating zones on your patio allows you to fit more of what you want and need in your outdoor oasis. Share the space by designating the area where you will eat outdoors, if needed, zone a space for your garden or where you’ll entertain. While some zones will need to multitask, planning out the spaces before you design will help you maximize your patio space.
More From Advisor
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.