Originally Published on October 20, 2020. Last Updated on August 10, 2023.
Patios come in all shapes and sizes. No matter if it’s a small or large patio, you can transform your space into a gorgeous outdoor haven that you and your family can enjoy for many years to come. All it takes is a bit of planning and creativity. Keep reading to learn more about how to transform your patio into an outdoor oasis.
How to Decorate a Small Patio
Just because your patio is on the smaller side doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of it. Whether you live in an apartment or have an intimate area in your backyard, these tips can help you design the perfect small patio.
Determine the Purpose of Your Space
A small patio doesn’t have the luxury of being a multipurpose area like a large patio. Before making any decorating decisions, determine what you want to do with your space. Depending on the design and size of your space, a small patio can effectively accommodate one or maybe two activities. Think about your lifestyle and decide what activities are most important to you. Are you a social butterfly who loves entertaining? Do you prefer to have a private retreat?
Here are some ideas of how you can use your small outdoor space:
- A casual dining spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- A quiet nook for reading or sunbathing
- An intimate conversation area anchored by a coffee table or fire pit table
- A minibar where you can mix tasty cocktails for guests
Choose Outdoor Furniture Strategically
Choosing furniture that’s too large can overwhelm your patio quickly. That’s why it’s important to measure your area before picking out furniture. Once you have an idea of your patio’s size and scale, you can start to select outdoor furniture that works within your space.
Keep a few of these tips in mind when shopping for small patio furniture:
- Consider outdoor furniture that features simple lines, low backs, and no arms. This type of furniture can help make your patio look more spacious.
- Place a bench along one or more sides of your patio for extra seating.
- Consider shopping for ottomans. They’re incredibly versatile pieces of furniture that you can use as seating, footrests, coffee tables, storage, and more.
- Look for foldable or stackable furniture. Whenever they’re not in use, you can easily stow them away to make more room for your patio.
- Plan the traffic flow correctly. Don’t block access points or put furniture in spots where it’s difficult or awkward for guests to get around the patio.
Bring in Plants
Plants make excellent flourishes for small patios. They bring natural beauty, texture, and color. Depending on the height and placement, plants can also provide shade and privacy for your small patio.
Consider raised beds, vertical planters, plant stands, and plant hangers to display your greenery. All of these plant containers add visual interest to a small patio while maximizing the limited space. If you have an open patio, use landscaping to create a border around your area.
When in Doubt, Less Is More
Whenever you’re decorating your small patio, keep an eye out for the number of legs. Too many chairs and tables can make your space look and feel like a crowded mess. Also, an overabundance of small décor items and trinkets can add to the cluttered appearance. If you feel like your patio is too busy, strip away the accessories and stick to what’s important to you.
Here are some other easy tips to help make your patio feel larger:
- Add an attractive outdoor rug to your area. It can add more variety while also giving your small patio the impression that there’s more space. Striped designs, in particular, help create this illusion.
- Free up some ground space and draw the eyes upward with hanging planters or string lights.
- Mirrors are one of the most effective ways to make your small patio feel open. They also help reflect light into the space.
How to Decorate a Large Patio
You may think it’d be easier to decorate a large patio, but the vast amount of space can be overwhelming to fill. Don’t fret! The tips below can help steer you in the right direction and create the patio you’ve always envisioned.
Designate Areas and Sections
With small patios, you can only use the space for one purpose. On the other hand, large patios provide enough room for you and your family to enjoy multiple activities. The best way to plan your outdoor space is to divide it into sections, just like inside your home. You can create a section for an outdoor home theater, where you and your family can plop down on a comfy sofa watching the latest superhero blockbuster. There can also be a section for a beautiful garden where you can grow fruits and veggies.
Whether you want a section for dining, sunbathing, or something in between, there are plenty of stylish ways to divide these areas. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Specific outdoor furniture such as dining sets can clearly distinguish one area from another.
- For more distinction, use different patio paver looks for each section.
- Potted plants and other landscaping effects can help border sections while also adding natural beauty.
- Pathways and lighting options are great ways to outline an area.
Consider an Outdoor Living Room
You can choose whatever sections you want within your large patio. But since you have space, consider making an outdoor living room part of your outdoor oasis. It’s so versatile. You can entertain guests with a meat and cheese board, host a game night with your friends, or relax with your family and enjoy gazing up at the starry skies. The possibilities are endless.
You’re bringing an indoor room outside, so don’t be afraid to include traditional interior decorations and accents. Rugs, throw pillows, ceiling fans, and other design touches are a great way to create a welcoming atmosphere. Just make sure they’re rated for outdoor use.
Stick with a Theme
An abundance of patio space with multiple sections is a nice luxury. However, your patio should be a complete unit as well. Make your large outdoor space more cohesive and comfortable with a décor theme.
Whether you’re fond of rustic elegance or modern design, choosing a theme can help streamline the decorating process by narrowing down your furniture and accessory choices. For example, if you’re envisioning coastal décor for your patio, you would want to furnish your space with Adirondack chairs, beach-inspired colors, and accessories like shells and starfish.
Covers and Shade Structures
Shade structures are a great way to protect yourself from the sun and make a grand statement in your patio. You don’t have to settle for a simple umbrella either. The space is there, so think big!
Consider a pergola with vines growing across the top. This structure blocks out sunlight and serves as a beautiful backyard feature. Additionally, you can opt for a gazebo with curtains or retractable shades. You’ll enjoy a defined, enclosed area while protecting you and your family from pesky bugs.
Whether you have an intimate or large patio, consider these decorating tips to help you create your dream outdoor space. If you need more guidance and expertise, you can always reach out to a professional landscaper or designer.
Ready to design the perfect patio? Check out the Outdoor Furniture Planner to get started!