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Making the Most of a Little: Designing a Beautiful and Functional Small Patio

by DecorMatters|Mar 23, 2023

Sprawling lawns, grand backyards, and luxurious courtyards. This is what we see in magazines today. However, for most of us average humans, we have to make the most of small outdoor spaces such as balconies, patios, or rooftop terraces. This presents its own set of limitations, but with a little creativity, you can transform the tiniest of patios into a beautiful and functional outdoor space.

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📸: @withinwarmwalls

We understand that the task of designing a small outdoor space can be daunting, along with the endless challenges that come related to functionality, aesthetics, and privacy.

This is why we’re here! Our blog is going to guide you through the process of maximizing your limited space, decorating on a budget, enhancing privacy, and creating a cozy ambiance. Our goal is to help you unlock the full potential of your small outdoor space.

Space-Saving Hacks and Functional Furniture

One of the best ways to make the most of your small patio is to go vertical. With wall-mounted planters, hanging baskets, and vertical garden systems, you can turn your patio into a green oasis without taking up too much floor space. These clever solutions not only add a pop of color but also create a sense of visual interest and dimension to your space. Plus, you can easily move them around to create different layouts and experiment with different plant combinations.

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📸: @hamburgdaniahoi

Another way to approach this is to “build your design out from the corners, and allow for open space in the center,” shares Jessica Shaw, Interior Design Director at The Turett Collaborative.

“This means seating, tables, or barbecue areas should branch out from the corners, instead of spreading from the middle of the patio.”

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📸: @merouwstyling

When choosing furniture for a small patio, it's important to look for space-saving options. Foldable furniture, such as folding chairs and tables, and modular furniture that can be easily stored, are will go a long way. Multi-functional pieces like ottomans that can double as extra seating or a side table, are also smart choices for small patios. With these furniture items, you can maximize every square inch of your small patio and create an outdoor space you can enjoy all seasons of the year.

Creating a Stunning Aesthetic and Cozy Atmosphere

Regardless of how small your place is, there is plenty of room for creativity and visual interest with the right interior design practices.

One of the best ways to make a small patio look bigger and brighter is to use the right color palette. Neutral and light colors are ideal as they can make your space feel more open and airy. However, don't be afraid to add a pop of color with vibrant and bold shades that complement your outdoor space and personal style. Plants contribute to both a cozy atmosphere and a stunning aesthetic, so we highly recommend decorating with potted plants, hanging baskets, or small succulents.

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📸: @interiorsari 

Lighting plays a critical role in setting the mood and creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your small patio. As Interior Design Director Jessica Shaw states, “adding string lights or lanterns to the ceiling contributes to ambiance and often creates a more enjoyable glow than harsh patio lighting.” Jessica continues, “Even if your space does not have a covering, lights such as these are good to consider and can be strung along vertical walls or corners, illuminating the space without taking up space on the ground.”

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📸: @stefyplants 

“An easy way to make your small patio space more inviting is to layer textures,” says Raquel Kehler, house flipper and interior designer at Room Crush. “These include cushions, poufs, and throws, and you can layer natural materials like boucle, wool, and cotton for a warm and welcoming space.” Experiment with different textures and patterns, such as an outdoor rug or decorative tiles, to create a visual statement and define your space.

Decorating your Small Patio on a Budget

Designing a beautiful and functional outdoor space doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, the good news is, less space means fewer purchases.

First and foremost, repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. This is a general hack for all people interested in affordable interior design. An old door, for example, can be transformed into a privacy screen to block out unwanted views for your cozy reading nook. Upcycling old furniture is another great option for creating unique and personalized outdoor pieces. With a fresh coat of paint and some creative inspiration, an old table or chair can be transformed into a contemporary addition to your patio. Be creative and see what you can come up with!

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📸: @indie.boho.nest

Natural elements should be used to add a touch of organic charm to your small patio. Rocks, stones, wood, and plants, are all great options for adding texture and personality to your design. The best part, these items are normally budget-friendly, and can sometimes be found for free right outside your home.

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Check out your local thrift stores, second-hand shops, or even Facebook Marketplace to find unique gems and practice sustainable interior design. It’s cheaper, and we personally love finding items that very few others have in their home.

Enhancing Privacy in your Small Patio

For those of us with apartments or shared outdoor areas, one of the biggest challenges is creating a sense of privacy. Fortunately, there are many creative ways to enhance your privacy while saving space and creating a stunning aesthetic.

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📸: @blancobungalow

Vertical gardens add a touch of nature, but they also bring privacy to small patios. Creating a living wall or vertical garden using plants and flowers is one of the most brilliant ways to enhance privacy. You can even choose plants with natural repellent properties, such as citronella, to keep insects at bay. Tall plants like bamboo or small trees can also work as natural screening.

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📸: @crazyhome17 

Another amazing idea is to use outdoor curtains or drapes. They not only provide a sense of enclosure and solitude, but they also make your design pop with color and pattern. Outdoor curtains are available in a variety of materials, from sheer to opaque, so you can choose the level of privacy that you’re comfortable in. There’s nothing sweeter than the sunlight shining through sheer curtains to create a soft and glowing atmosphere.

Transform your Small Patio Today

A small patio doesn't have to be a hindrance to your outdoor living experience. Don’t compare your space to the backyards you see on social media. It’s all about finding joy and comfort, and making the most of our homes as they are. We hope that these tips will help you on your journey.

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📸: @deco_martine

Lastly, don't forget to try the DecorMatters app to decorate your small patio. You can virtually place real furniture and decorations in your outdoor space. The app can help you turn your small patio into a beautiful and functional outdoor space at your fingertips. So give it a try and start designing your dream small patio today!

UP NEXT: Stylish Small Patio Decorating & Design Ideas

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