It doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is, creating a beautiful and practical patio decor idea will add to your quality of life. Get the design right and it will be a wonderful place to spend time in, to invite friends and family over and enjoy relaxing days and evenings.
The thoughtful outdoor space can carry on being used through the autumn and winter months with the addition of a fire pit, lots of throws and blankets and outdoor heaters. Compared with lawns and wooden decks, a patio is low-maintenance, meaning more time to enjoy your free time.
Inspiring patio decor ideas
Make a patio area into something extra special and make the best use of space you have. If it’s a large space, it could be zoned into different areas. Choose furniture that fits whether it’s a lounge set up with a sofa and armchairs or a dining space. Think about shade ideas to use the space during the summer heat – so umbrellas, awnings or even sails. To make the summer last longer, invest in patio heaters or outdoor fire to ramp up the style stakes.
‘When it comes to outdoor decor, simple things like outdoor rugs, throw blankets and ambient lighting can provide extra comfort.’ Says Louise Swannell, head of creative design at tile company Walls and Floors. ‘And fire pits, chimineas and heat lamps are a great solution for staying outside on chilly spring/summer nights.’
1. Create an outdoor room
This garden isn’t the biggest but look how much is in it, and how well-designed it is. A comfortable seating area tucked neatly into the corner with a coffee table for relaxing with a drink, then a dining space on the left-hand side with a rug beneath to zone the space – perfect for entertaining. Lots of outdoor patio decor ideas here. Both areas have black painted, wooden plank walls and a section of tiles as a backdrop, it’s a bit like having waterproof wallpaper!
The outdoor living room idea has been designed as you would an indoor lounge, just with extra large plants. There is even a small patch of grass in the centre, that looks a bit like a rug. And don’t forget the all-important shed to store all the garden tools, which is also painted black to blend in. And of course stylish, industrial lighting so you can stay outdoors into the evening.
2. Install all important lighting
Make the most of your garden design with a well thought out lighting scheme, one of the best outdoor patio decor ideas. Here there are lights under the trees to cast a beautiful light on the leaves, deck lighting so that you can see where you are walking, wall lights along opposite walls and side lights on the back wall of the extension.
Even the shrubs on top of the extension are lit up. It really does become an outdoor room at night as well as during the day. Perfect for alfresco gatherings.
3. Zone the space with planting
Position your furniture to make the most of the surroundings. This L-shaped building creates the ideal zone for a social space. Place a relaxing sofa and armchairs in the centre with lots of squashy cushions to create a wonderful Mediterranean feel for the ultimate patio decor idea.
In this garden a tree on the left-hand side ‘reaches’ into the space to set the scene, and a huge pampas grass makes a statement in the flower bed to create the ideal backdrop to the furniture.
4. Add a pergola
The weather in the UK is unpredictable, so a pergola is a good idea for those unexpected summer showers or to provide a garden shade idea to shelter from the sun. It also adds a focal point for your patio decor ideas.
You can use the pergola to create an area for entertaining, with comfortable rattan furniture with colourful cushions and the stand-out piece – the tiled wall with an inset bioethanol fire, switch it on as dusk falls for a wonderful glow. You could be in the Riviera! Any element that transports you to a dream location is an ideal patio decor idea to us.
5. Install a water feature
There is nothing so soothing as a water feature in the garden for an outdoor patio décor idea. The sound of water calms and relaxes us, so why not create one on your patio? This one has been built using Nativa cladding tiles to get the split face, slate-effect look for a truly contemporary feel. Surround it with colourful planting and flat surfaces where people can sit, so it becomes extra seating when you are entertaining.
6. Rig up an outdoor bar
Outdoor bars really came into their own during lockdown, and now no self-respecting garden can be without one! Create a panelled wall as a backdrop and move a console table into place. Add some bar stools a hanging egg chair and make sure you have a bottle opener! That hanging basket adds the perfect finishing touch attached to an overhead beam and the whole area is glazed, so it can be used throughout the year. It’s the perfect outdoor patio decor idea.
‘The expectations for our outdoor living space now hold the same design opportunities as our home interiors, and consequently we have seen an emerging trend to take the industrial look into garden spaces.’ Says Marketa Rypacek, Managing Director of Industville.
‘There has been a huge demand for IP65 rated industrial lighting being used to create chic outdoor kitchens, bars or garden terraces for example. A dark fence works perfectly in both traditional and contemporary garden spaces. It provides the perfect backdrop for plants and flowers to really standout, as well as offering a wonderful contrast to make a statement with stylish metallic lighting and pale landscaping.’
7. Make a sociable space
A corner seating arrangement is the ideal sociable space and perfect for gatherings with friends and family, and you could easily create one yourself with some good DIY skills. Make it comfortable with lots of cushions in desert shades, and add a coffee table in the centre for drinks and nibbles. The stand-out element here however, is that amazing tiled floor, it looks like a rug but will withstand all weathers, and it zones the area perfectly. Place lanterns on the wall behind for when dusk falls.
8. Introduce biophilia
Consider a corner seating area built from wood for an organic feel, with a backdrop of lush plants creating a natural, biophilic space, ideal for relaxing. The elevation of plants helps to surround the space in natural on another level, quite literally. The addition of a fire pit means the space can be used well into the evening, creating warmth and ambience.
9. Create small areas of interest
To break up a long, thin garden, create a point of interest on the patio with a view through. Rig up a sturdy arch and hang a rattan egg chair with cushions and a throw in natural colours. Arrange planters around it with a small, rattan table nearby for drinks. It’s easy to remove the chair and table at any time to enjoy the garden fully.
10. Decorate the space with foliage
Treat your outside dining space as you would an indoor one with creative patio decor ideas. Such as this imaginative display of straw hats, used to create a talking point – you could use colourful plates or planters. A wonderful climbing plant idea also creates drama on the back wall of this house. Add funky string bulb lights across the table for when dusk falls.
How can I make my patio look nice?
‘Why not try freshening up any walls that may look tired after the winter months with masonry paint?’ says Matthew Brown, Sandtex and Sadolin Technical Consultant. ‘It comes in a wide range of colours. Or you could upcycle your furniture, decking, plant pots, watering cans or bird boxes with Sadolin’s range of wood stains.'
'The stains can be used on all exterior wood as well as on metal, plastic, terracotta and brick, or for a stronger, solid colour try Sadolin’s Superdec opaque wood to really make a statement.’
What should I put on my patio?
‘People are attracted to light, especially if it’s a variety of forms' says Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, CEO of home décor brand Dowsing & Reynolds. 'An outdoor social space like a patio should be well lit with a couple of different lighting arrangements, that act as focal points for where you want people to be.’
‘Plants! Play with scale - don't think small, even if you have a small space. Use big leaf plants like fatsia japonica to create the jungle look or silver-leafed plants like lavender for a Mediterranean feel. Choose a large standing plant to liven up the corners of the space.'
'Make a living wall with herb plants like basil, parsley, thyme and mint. This will mean as you brush by you will get the lovely scents as well! And they’re perfect for adding to evening cocktails. Grow a Jasmine or other fragrant climber that perhaps reminds you of those sunny evenings on holiday.’
How do I make my patio cosy?
There are many great patio decor ideas for creating a cosy ambience. ‘Cooking and entertaining outdoors has really taken off in the past few years, and we expect this trend to only increase. Combining a heater or barbecue with elements of indoor spaces such as lighting, soft furnishings and comfortable seating will help to create the ultimate cosy patio area. Says Declan Kingsley-Walsh, MD of Morso UK.
‘An outdoor kitchen gives you ample opportunity to cook and eat outdoors, and will keep you warm in the colder months too, and as outdoor kitchens now come in a multitude of sizes and forms, you have more reason to get outside and make the most of your patio space.
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Alison Davidson has been working as an interiors and lifestyle journalist for over 30 years. She has been Homes and Gardens Editor of Woman & Home magazine and Interiors Editor of House Beautiful magazine, she has also freelanced and worked for most of the interiors magazines at one time or another. She is currently embracing the move to digital using the same knowledge and expertise to produce high quality features.
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