Designing Your Small Backyard or Outdoor Space

Homes come in all shapes and sizes. If you have any type of outdoor space you’ll want to transform it into a relaxing haven or a hotspot for revelry depending on your taste. Apartment dwellers in cities and homeowners with small yards may only have a bit of Earth to work with, but with vision and planning, you won’t be limited in the design of a small backyard or space.

Defining Small Spaces

What exactly is a small space? To contextualize let’s consider a large space. A large outdoor space such as a wraparound deck or a spacious yard is a space where you can designate different zones for various activities — a dining set for meals, an outdoor kitchen to cook, a fire pit table to enjoy the evening air, and a plush deep seating set to share drinks with friends.

A small space, on the other hand, can only consist of one zone. Think of balconies outside of an apartment or a small garden-style yard. You still have the ability to infuse your space with life given the right furniture and layout, but a small space only has room for one primary use.

How to Measure Your Outdoor Living Space

Before you start deciding what should go into your small space, accurately measure the space so you don’t encounter unpleasant surprises later.

How to Plan a Small Balcony

How you furnish a small balcony will depend on two factors: your ideal use for the space, and the climate considerations of your region. A rooftop balcony in Los Angeles will likely be warmer and sunnier than a balcony in downtown Philadelphia covered in shade. Stick to a few pieces of furniture, and brighten the space with planters, hanging lights, and standing heat lamps if your winters are severe.

Use any of these balcony designs as inspiration for your space:

Outdoor Bar

Design a classy space for hosting casual gatherings and sharing your latest cocktail creation without crowding your balcony. Position your bar cart against the wall of your apartment or home to maximize mingling space, and stick to a vertical bar set that promotes an intimate evening. The Contempo 4-Piece Saddle Bar Stool Set is a sleek set that will turn your small balcony into the block’s swankiest lounge — plus it’s available in a wide range of color combinations to customize to fit your outdoor space. 

Bar Stool Collection
Bar Stool Collection

Sunbathing Spot

If the weather in your area is typically tropical and your balcony is drenched in sunlight make the most of your situation with a pair of chaise lounges. The chaises in the Coastal 3-Piece Wheeled Chaise Set include wheels for simple rearranging, and the set includes a side table so you can sip a refreshing glass of lemonade or tea before dozing off in the afternoon sun. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Coastal 3-Piece Wheeled Chaise Set

Party Central

Like being the host for on holidays? Envision your small balcony as the setting for intimate soirees throughout the year? Keep the central area open and add a few low profile seating options around the edges of your balcony, including a Rustic Farmhouse 60″ Backless Bench or a Vineyard Adirondack Bench.

Vineyard Adirondack Bench
Rustic Farmhouse 60″ Backless Bench

Discover more ideas for planning a small balcony by reading our blog. 

How to Plan a Small Porch

A small porch at the entrance of your house or apartment is typically reserved for relaxing or welcoming guests. While a dining set would seem strange on a small porch, there are plenty of furniture choices that will help you get more use out of the space while maintaining a modern, coherent design. 

Classic Rockers

Rocking chairs are the staple furniture choice for porches, and with a small porch you can comfortably fit a pair of rockers to take a break from a hectic day or watch a sunset. Don’t include more than two rockers or you’ll crowd the space. Our all-weather Vineyard 3-Piece Rocking Set is designed with a traditional look but features curved seats for added comfort. The addition of a side table ensures you don’t have to get up for a cup of coffee or your latest mystery novel.

Vineyard 3-Piece Rocking Set

Relaxation Haven

The inclusion of a few rainproof deep seating furniture pieces and a coffee table creates a cozy outdoor living room where you can sneak a quick nap, share a drink with your spouse, or play a board game with the kiddos. A Vineyard 4-Piece Deep Seating Set will give you enough spacious seating without cramping your porch.

Vineyard 4-Piece Deep Seating Set

Swing Away

When you really want to minimize your furniture footprint for greenery or open space you can’t go wrong with a single swing along your narrow front porch. The Vineyard Deep Seating Swing or Vineyard 60″ Porch Swing is ideal for any occasion, whether spending the afternoon with a book or rocking your child to sleep.

Vineyard Deep Seating Swing
Vineyard 60″ Swing

Look for more ideas? Browse our entire selection of front porch furniture.

How to Plan a Small Patio, Deck, or Backyard

For outdoor areas in your backyard consider your ideal function: do you want a spot to feast on the spoils of your grilling? Would you like an area to relax and catch up with friends? Conversation areas and dining sets are the most popular uses for small decks and patios. 

Outdoor Dining

If you love hosting barbecues and cookouts you can establish a space for outdoor dining on your patio simply by lining up your grill along the side of your house and placing a Traditional Garden 5-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set nearby.

Traditional Garden 5-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set

Fireside Chat

Circular conversation areas are ideal for smaller decks without much leeway in the floor plan. Upgrade from a standard coffee table by centering the action around a roaring yet hassle-free fire pit table with a flame you can control with the push of a button. The Modern Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table seats four and blends beautifully into any existing decor.

Modern Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table

Garden Retreat

Growing lush shrubbery, colorful flowers, and hardy trees with pendulous branches? Allow the greenery to take center stage and buy a few weather-resistant, outdoor-safe furniture pieces to place under the tree canopy or along the garden path. Something as simple as a Classic Adirondack Oversized Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Casual Set may be all you need, or a Chippendale Glider to provide a place to rest in between gardening sessions.

Classic Adirondack Oversized Curveback Adirondack 5-Piece Casual Set
Chippendale Glider

Can’t decide what furniture pieces will embody your sense of style while making the most of your small outdoor space? Visit our Get Inspired page for ideas and motivation. 

Complete your small outdoor space with our handy selection of outdoor furniture for small spaces. What layout did you go with for your backyard, balcony, or porch? Let us know in the comments!

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