Experts reveal the ideal outdoor furniture arrangements for cosy garden get-togethers

Just because you have a small garden doesn't mean you can't go big on the get-togethers

Black outdoor dining set with plates and dinnerware
(Image credit: Habitat)

We know we've been saying this endlessly since the first bit of sun came to our front doors, but we really mean it this time: Summer is here. Therefore, what better time to give your garden furniture ideas a refresh than now, at the peak of the garden party season?

However, there is one thing that may divide opinions on how best to arrange garden furniture – just how much space you actually have to work with in your garden. Truth be told, not all of us are blessed with a bout of square footage for our outdoor living spaces, forcing us to get creative with our small garden ideas.

So, how exactly can you make the most of your best garden furniture picks to maximise the socialising aspect in even the smallest of gardens?

Outdoor corner sofa on patio, patterned cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

How to arrange outdoor furniture when socialising in small gardens

'When the weather is good, the garden provides the perfect spot for get-togethers with friends and family. From barbecues to garden cocktails, al fresco entertaining is both fun and memorable,' says Dee Fontenot, resident style advisor at Wayfair.

When it comes to arranging outdoor furniture in small gardens, we've previously talked about the modern linear garden furniture trend that we think has definitely knocked it out of the park as the best garden seating option for a smaller space.

'If you are short on space, there are a couple of different ways to make the most of it, depending on the occasion,' continues Dee.

Black outdoor dining set with plates and dinnerware

(Image credit: Habitat)

1. Smaller, versatile seating

'Seating is crucial to creating the perfect social space, so invest in a quality table and chairs as your base,' advises David Hutcherson, senior designer at Habitat. 'Look for versatile designs that can adapt easily to different arrangements such as a formal dinner party or more casual drinks.'

Kris Tolofson, director and co-founder of Nöa & Nani adds, 'Choosing smaller items that will help make your space appear larger and something that is easy to store.'

Outdoor furniture 2 seater and table

(Image credit: Noa & Nani)

David continues, 'There are a lot of outdoor furniture styles on the market that double up as storage, which can be a great option for those short on space.'

To add to that notion, Gabrielle Anderson, outdoor buyer at John Lewis adds, 'Opt for dining sets with benches instead of chairs as these are easily tucked under the table and save space when you’re not dining.'

Blue outdoor dining bench with dinnerware spread

(Image credit: Habitat)

2. L shaped built-in bench style seating

'Built-in L-shaped bench style seating works well paired with a folding dining table and chairs, as you can fit more guests round it for summer dinner parties or long lunches, but means less chairs to move, put away and taking up valuable space,' suggests Dee.

'A table and chairs will fit snugly into a corner, rather than placing in the middle of the space which can block walkways and quickly make a garden feel smaller.'

garden area with L shaped grey sofa and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

2. Opt for loveseat style sofas

'Choose smaller two-seater loveseat style sofas instead of multiple armchairs or lounge sets and accessorise with floor cushions and outdoor pouffes that double up as extra seating when you’re entertaining friends and family,' advises Gabrielle.

3. Or, try corner sofas

'For a more laid-back vibe, corner sofas maximise on space while accommodating a large number of guests,' assures David. In the same fashion as the loveseat style sofas, he suggests you 'pile high with cushions and throws for a comfy setting that stimulates relaxed, free-flowing conversation.'

With this also comes the enjoyable task of knowing where to position your outdoor corner sofa for Feng Shui harmony, if that's something up your street.

Grey outdoor sofa with yellow and pink cushions, outdoor plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

5. Ambient lighting

Seeing as lighting is foundational to any space, even your outdoor ones, it doesn't hurt to brush up on your garden lighting or outdoor wall lighting ideas to further encourage fun and relaxed exchanges among your guests. We're cranking up the cosy garden vibes to an all-time high this Summer.

'Lastly, hanging string lights along walls or hedges will cast an ambient glow perfect for evening get-togethers that won't take up any floor space!' says David.

Garden with lanterns around outdoor living ares

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

So, just because your outdoor space is small doesn't mean your gatherings can't be big. You just have to be a little savvier with it, that's all.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.