30 patio ideas to transform your outdoor living space

Upgrade this under-utilised garden zone with these inspiring ideas
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  • Outdoor space is one of the most desirable attributes for homes right now. Make yours work harder by exploring patio ideas that can turn a basic area into something really quite special.

    There are countless shapes and sizes of gardens out there, and there’s a way to make the most of a patio in every one. The right design makes for a wonderful and welcoming outdoor living space, throughout the summer months and beyond. Even into winter the right garden design can prove invaluable, with a patio providing a weatherproof space to gather around a fire pit.

    Compared with lawned gardens, patios (paved and gravelled spaces, too) require little maintenance, and therefore become more of a preferred choice. From polished concrete to stone slabs there’s a choice for every style.

    Patio ideas and designs to inspire

    Make the most of your patio whatever type of the garden landscaping ideas you’ve gone for.

    1. Top with a pergola

    Patio with outdoor rug and furniture underneath black pergola with festoon lights

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Turn your patio into an outdoor room by topping with a garden pergola. Even the most simple designs can be incredibly effective with a lick of paint and some clever styling.

    Situate your furniture and accessories under the pergola so everything is neatly zoned. You can also train climbers and drape festoon lights across the top. And voila – your patio is now a miniature outdoor living room!

    2. Build in seating

    Patio with wooden built in seating around firepit

    Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies

    Patios can often be lacking in space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to their full potential. Think about what you need from your space and prioritise it. For example, every patio needs some form of seating.

    Save space by building in benches to the sides of raised beds. You’ll save precious space and have ample seating.

    3. Create an outdoor kitchen

    Outdoor kitchen with Big Green Egg on patio area

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Outdoor kitchens are having something of a moment right now, and they happily pair up perfectly with patio ideas. There are outdoor kitchen ideas to suit every size of patio – from a full-blown chef’s paradise to a pizza oven or a barbecue.

    One patio consideration to make is that some flooring materials are better suited to this job than others, so confirm with your supplier.

    4. Create zones with planting

    Back garden with patio seating areas and planting

    Image credit: Future PLC/Alisdair McIntosh

    It can be tempting to pave a whole small garden into a large patio space to save effort and upkeep. However, you can be clever with planting to actually make your space work even harder.

    Landscape your area with two main patios at either end, and a path linking them. In the space, or spaces, between, add in luscious planting to get up close and personal with nature and add interest to the space. Plus, you’ve now created two zones, which is ideal for a busy family or when entertaining.

    5. Create cohesion with stepping stones

    Back garden with stone path on lawn

    Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby

    It can sometimes feel a bit jarring having your patio suddenly end and the lawn begin. Make this transition feel so much more natural by using excess paving material from your patio ideas and turning them into a stepping stone pathway.

    Both areas will feel linked and there won’t be any hard divisions between patio and lawn.

    6. Add a pretty border

    Outdoor room with patio and lavender border

    Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies

    If you’re looking for easy garden ideas to add impact to a patio, then upgrade your borders. Even small lawns can benefit from offering up some of their space to be turned into borders. These will add pretty interest and neatly separate out lawn and patio ideas.

    Use this extra planting space cleverly – either turning it into a haven for wildlife by opting for a herbaceous border, or creating mini kitchen garden so sweet smelling herbs are readily available.

    7. Save space with a hanging chair

    Patio garden area with plants and rattan hanging chair

    Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young

    Square footage is lacking in many of our outdoor spaces, but you can still create pretty patio ideas. Use a hanging chair for your seating element, to free up ground space. Then layer in pots a plenty to add colour and interest.

    8. Add personality with pattern

    patterned patio tile idea

    Image credit: Ca’Pietra/ @design_at_nineteen

    Patterned floor tiles are not just for indoors. The experts at Ca’Pietra say porcelain tiles are one of the unsuspected tile materials that can live outdoors, just as happily as they can do in kitchens and bathrooms. ‘They’re frost-proof, because they don’t absorb water so won’t crack. And they’re super low maintenance so will stay looking as good as new with very little TLC. Plus, you can get patterned porcelain tiles to jazz up sections of your garden rather than classic stone paving.’

    ‘Just make sure that the porcelain tile is suitable for exterior use, you will find that with many of our internal porcelain tiles we offer an external option too, to allow a tile to run from the inside-out.’

    9. Make the patio an extension of your indoor space

    House with indoor-outdoor tiles

    Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung

    Create a patio garden that looks nothing like your traditional idea of a patio garden! Installing sliding doors means you can roll back the doors from your kitchen-diner and increase space with a seamlessly adjoining al fresco space beyond; make the tiles match up perfectly to create a fluid dining area.

    You could move the table and chairs out easily for fuss-free and family friendly weekend meals.

    10. Lay different solutions to zone a garden

    garden patio ideas

    Image credit: Annaick Guitteny

    Use different materials to give a space clear distinction between its dedicated areas.

    Think using decking for a busy social space, a tiled patio to signify a chill out zone and lawns for fun and games.

    11. Surround porcelain tiles with gravel for an organic feel

    Garden with porcelain patio tiles and gravel

    Image credit: Tile Giant

    For a more organic look that feels less set in stone (quite literally) try a more free-form approach to how your patio tiles are laid. These stylish outdoor porcelain tiles can be laid directly onto gravel, grass or sand to create a softer feel for the layout.

    These robust porcelain tiles are robust and practical, both algae and moss resistant and fade resistant too. Plus they don’t require maintenance , other than a seasonal clean to keep them looking their best.

    12. Create a seamless flow with matching materials

    Exterior of house with extension and indoor-outdoor flooring

    Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby

    Blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoor aesthetics. Make the patio feel like an extension of the immediate indoor living space by coordinating the flooring material. ‘Merge your kitchen and garden by extending your indoor flooring out onto courtyards and patios,’ says Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone.

    ‘To give the illusion of more space, we recommend going with a larger paver size such as 900 x 600 or 800 x 800. The larger the paver, the less grout and therefore it helps to create a seamless space that isn’t broken up by numerous grout lines. We also recommend choosing a grout colour that is a close colour match to the paver itself – again, this helps the grout to blend in with the pavers and gives the illusion of a larger area.’

    13. Add decorative deck tiles to a patio

    Exterior of house with bifold doors and wooden style tiles on patio

    Image credit: Future PLC/Bridget Peirson

    Add interest to the look of a wooden patio by laying deck tiles, rather than the classic deck boards. This style of outdoor flooring is readily available from all good flooring retailers, and it’s no more expensive to the traditional style of decking.

    Choosing an alternative decking area helps to add character.

    14. Surround paving with raised flowerbeds

    Garden with raised beds on either side of paved patio dining area

    Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

    If you only have a small garden, swap grass for a patio to create the perfect area for alfresco dining. Raised flower beds surrounding the patio are a clever way to add a splash of colour, that will make you feel like you’re dining in the middle of a meadow.

    Paint the walls of the planters white to attract the light, helping to make the space feel bigger.

    15. Create a focal point with a warming fire pit

    Patio with stone paving and two benches on either side of stone fire pit

    Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes

    Fire pits are the garden must-have right now, as we look to use out outside spaces more – whatever the weather. Build your own design incorporated into the patio paving to get the exact size and shape to suit.

    No matter how big or small your patio, it’s always good to create a focal point to give the space a sense of purpose. Benches either side of a warming fire pit help to create an inviting place to relax and spend some downtime in the garden – however chilly it gets.

    16. Paint the patio

    Garden with tiled flooring and garden furniture

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Painting the patio has become a popular trend to give tired-looking paving slabs a modern day makeover. Using specialist outdoor paints and a stencil homeowners are giving their patios a refresh with an injection of colour and pattern.

    17. Elevate a dining area

    Garden with wooden dining table on patio and garden room in distance

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Add interest to raised patio ideas by dressing it as the main social spot within the outdoor space. Look to stylish interiors trends when creating your dining space. For a modern look, mix and match bright and contrasting furniture with traditional wooden finishes.

    18. Extend a small space

    Garden patio surrounded by wooden panelling, with mirror and bistro set

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Still

    Make the most of a compact outdoor space that adjoins a flat or house, by creating your very own modern secret garden. Run floor tiles out from the interior space to give a sense of continuity and create the illusion of a larger area. Add clusters of large pots holding lush plants to create a tropical feeling and the sense of being in nature.

    Remember that mirrored panels can double the space – visually at least -making it feel light and full of energy for a meal or casual drinks. Talk about having it all!

    19. Take indoor interiors out with homely accessories

    Exterior of brick house with fireplace and seating on patio area

    Image credit: Future PLC/Max Attenborough

    In addition to considering the aesthetics such as wood panelling on walls and floor tiles, think about taking the indoor accessories outside too – to create a more homely feel. Outdoor rugs and cushions are both becoming increasingly more popular, as a great way to inject an artistic flare to garden spaces.

    There’s no harm in taking your existing accessories outside, permitted the weather stays fair to prevent damage. However you can purchase accessories especially made for outdoor purpose, which is preferable.

    20. Make it modern with contemporary colours

    Garden patio with grey tiles and white dining set underneath white parasol

    Image credit: Future PLC/Nick Pope

    Grey is still one of the most popular colours in all aspects of interior design. Take the colour into your patio ideas by way of polished concrete or grey porcelain tiles. Go one step further and co-ordinates the colour scheme with grey shutters and doors.

    Add a glass-topped table and finely woven chairs to achieve an almost weightless feel, and look crisp and fresh against all the garden’s greenery. Finish with a modern large white parasol to both visually zone the dining space and provide shade on sunny summer days.

    21. Plot a pretty potting area onto the patio

    Wooden patio with red potting table and seat

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain

    A patio needn’t be used solely for summer dining. Set up your practical plant potting area outside your back door, with a vintage workbench for storing gardening tools and housing the season’s prettiest plants.

    When not in use for pruning tall trees, a neat stool doubles up as a lovely spot to have a tea break and take in the scene.

    22. Install an enclosed garden room

    Covered outdoor space with wooden fence, dining table and sofa

    Image credit: Future PLC/Matthew Williams

    Is it a porch? Is it a patio? Maybe it’s both! The space beneath a raised deck makes a lovely shady outdoor living area, that’s ideal for sociable gatherings in summer – or even winter, if you provide a little heating and plenty of blankets.

    23. Plan a designer garden

    Back garden with tiered stone and planted areas

    Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Bolton

    Patios don’t have to be a one-level, just-outside-the-door affair; this carefully designed tiered space is a prime example of a patio that has stepped up (forgive the pun) to the next level in garden design, for a statement grassless garden idea.

    24. Keep it functional and family-friendly

    Garden with patio and trampoline seen from inside of home through bifold doors

    Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Lewis

    If you’re looking for patio ideas with a more traditional design direction, why not use garden furniture to set your desired atmosphere? Consider teaming wooden benches with relaxed soft furnishing for a patio haven that’s very shabby chic. Or, by contrast, set out a vintage-style iron bistro set with slatted chairs and patterned seat covers to capture an effortless French farmhouse look for lazy Sunday lunches outdoors.

    If you have a brand-new kitchen extension, but the garden beyond doesn’t quite match up (yet), a little streamlined modern furniture can work wonders.

    25. Simplify your patio space

    Stone patio with wooden fence and trellis and small seating set

    Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby

    Make a cosy nook for yourself in a sprawling country garden with a beautiful and simplistic courtyard. Plant the space richly with climbers creeping up trellises, bedding plants and even a selection of plants potted in aged galvanised steel containers. A simple bench or bistro set is all these patio ideas need to let the surroundings sing.

    26. Opt for a ski-chalet-style garden

    Garden patio in front of white panelled house with wooden sled, fur throw and chiminea

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain

    Patio ideas don’t come much better than this! You don’t have to hit the slopes to enjoy the benefits of an apres-ski style terrace. A fresh take on the functional garden patio, this idea takes the outdoor social space into winter…with the help of an outdoor heater, plenty of faux-fur blankets, woven textures and flickering candles housed in glass lanterns.

    Romantic, super stylish and a little bit hygge? We think so.

    27. Perfect your patio with Shabby-chic furniture

    Small paved balcony with folding wooden table and pink painted bench

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    A paved balcony can make a great patio ideas substitute in flat. Make the most of the extra space and furnish with slimline colourful furniture that won’t overwhelm the patio. Foldable pieces are ideal as they can be folded down to create space when not in use/to suit the situation.

    Use the ledge beneath the balcony to house plants and bring the all-important natural element to your miniature garden.

    28. Create a sunshine vibe with colourful accessories

    Garden patio with wooden dining set with colourful tablescape

    Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson

    A walled garden, with a herringbone bricked patio, needn’t stick to English country style. Bring a more exotic feel to your space with richly patterned and colourful accessories that are more reminiscent of a Moroccan riad.

    29. Incorporate a garden canopy

    Garden patio with yellow and white striped canopy above wicker furniture set with cushions and flowers

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars

    It goes without saying that patio ideas are a go-to spot for alfresco dining, but rain – or sometimes sun – can be a problem when entertaining outside, so garden shade ideas are a must. A simple homemade canopy made of a swathe of flowing fabric can offer a stylish covering, and gives a somewhat nautical vibe to an outdoor area.

    Looking at other fabric-based garden accessories (or some might say essentials) a hammock is another indulgent option for a relaxed patio. It works for small and large spaces alike, and makes a lovely place to snooze in the shade on long summer days.

    30. Create ambience with lighting and accessories

    Garden patio with sofa, decor and chimenea

    Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason

    You may want to dial up your garden’s ambient atmosphere after dark. Consider setting the mood once the sun sets on your patio, with lanterns and cushions scattered on the floor. Lanterns are an easy and instant way to illuminate garden spaces without having to seek assistance from an electrician.

    How can I make my patio look nice?

    Make a patio look nice in a few simple steps. Firstly have a spring clean to ensure the patio surface, whether it be decking or paving slabs, is looking its best. Cleanliness goes a long way when it comes to making a patio look more appealing. Use a jet wash to blast away the algae and moss that may have taken hold during the winter months. But always take care when using a pressure washer, because it can damage the cement foundations.  Dress the space with stylish garden furniture to instantly make the patio an inviting place to relax and enjoy alfresco dining.

    Use potted plants to welcome greenery to the space and soften the look of the hard edge of stones against the softness of a lawn. Just be sure to move the pots from time to time to ensure they don’t leave marks on the patio, from watering and so on.

    How do you build a patio area?

    How you build a patio area depends on what style you’re looking for, and the size. ‘Before you start digging and buying paving slabs, think about the size of the patio area and the style of pavers you want,’ say the experts at Gardening Express.

    You can certainly DIY your way to creating your dream patio but it’s not always the best, or easiest, ideas. ;Be aware that laying a good patio isn’t easy – this may be a job to get the professionals in on.’

    What can I use instead of slabs?

    ‘Natural stone paving is a type of outdoor paving commonly used for patios, driveways, and pavements,’ says Rowen Cripps from Infinite Paving. ‘Natural stone pavers, or paving slabs, are crafted from a variety of natural stones, including granite, marble, limestone, sandstone, and slate. Among man’s earliest technologies, natural stone paving trends have been around for a very long time, and for good reason as well. The unique colour and texture of this type of paving is the result of centuries of geological processes, rather than chemical dyes.’

    ‘There are many different types of natural stone paving including Sandstone paving, Limestone paving, Granite paving and finally Slate paving to name a few. However, over the last few years, Indian Sandstone paving, Indian Limestone paving and Brazilian slate paving have become more and more popular for homeowners and gardeners across the UK and Ireland.’

    ‘Introduced in the 1990s, Indian Sandstone has become the first choice for natural stone paving in the UK and Ireland, due to the fact that it offers a rustic charm to your space, without costing the earth. Furthermore, Indian limestone paving is hard-wearing with a slightly softer surface to the touch than Indian sandstone paving. This type of natural stone paving is loved by so many due to the fact that it comes in a variety of colours from black, greys, blues, and tan colours will add a unique charm to your garden.’

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