15 small patio ideas to make a mighty statement in even a mini space

How to make the most of your petite patio

feature wall with grain leaves and lighting
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Many homes have some variation of a patio, whether it's a paved area, a stepped deck or literally a few squares of tiles outside the door, and luckily for those with a more bijou interpretation of the patio, size really isn't everything. Thoughtful small patio ideas can make even the tiniest of spaces feel more valuable.

‘Small spaces have huge potential,' agrees Francesca Hadland, product executive from garden furniture experts Bridgman. 'Thinking flexibly and smartly can transform your small patio into an outdoor paradise that will only be limited by a lack of imagination, not a lack of space’.

Small patio ideas

Smaller patio spaces can benefit from little tricks and ideas that can elevate an average space into a marvellous one, and often on a budget, too. And as Garden Trading’s senior buyer Claire Wilks succinctly puts it, ‘a small patio can be just as rewarding as a rambling garden idea when thoughtfully styled’.

1. Choose light colours

Terraced area with white metal furniture and white paarsol

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nick Pope)

Colour rules apply in the garden just as they do inside the home. While we often think about how to use colour to successfully plant in a small space, the materials you choose have impact, too.

Lighter tiles, garden furniture, shade and pots will all help to visually boost the area's space. As a nice bonus, your plants and patio decor will pop even more against this simplistic palette.

2. Make use of every inch

Wooden outdoor dining set with built in corner seating on patio

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You can add your favourite outdoor furniture to small patio ideas, but if you want to include a full dining set without feeling cramped then take a beat to consider the layout.

Low garden walls can be utilised to work as ad hoc bench seating - simply add a few comfy seat cushions when needed. When the extra seating isn't required, the table can be pushed right into the corner, saving you a good amount of precious square footage. 

As an extra bonus, it's a great example of small patio ideas on a budget as you won't have to buy a full set of dining chairs.

3. Raise the beds

Kitchen diner extension leading out onto patio with raised beds

(Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Lewis)

Building raised beds, or turning garden structures into them, is a great way to make sure you can include your desired planting without using up much space. This is also an easy wasy to start your garden screening plans.

The difference between these and the classic raised beds is that you'll want to steer away from wooden structures and instead choose a sleek material that either matches or aligns with the patio paving for a cohesive and contemporary space.

4. Add a useful framework

small patio with outdoor garden and dog

(Image credit: Koo Power)

Assembling a wooden structure over a patio, be it using beams, rafters or a pergola, not only adds substance to a small patio, but gives you a framework to suspend lighting from. Fairy lights work particularly well here as the generous lengths of wire they’re attached to are perfect for threading over, through, under and around posts and beams. 

When you’re hunting for fairy lights, choose soft white over bright white bulbs as they’ll emit more of an ethereal glow (thus enhancing the romantic feel) and plump for white or transparent wiring, which will be less visible than black.

If your small patio resides in sunny spot, an overhead structure will provide shade as well as a useful frame for guiding easy climbing plants such as clematis and ivy to climb up. Even more enticingly, you could cultivate a mini orchard by planting climbing fruit plants (such as grapes and berries), adding colour, scent and fresh food!

5. Choose slim furniture

garden dining armchairs with grass and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Chunky garden dining armchairs may look comfy and inviting but position them around an equally hefty dining table, and poof! Your small patio will visually shrink. Slimmer options will not only physically take up less room, but won’t block out any light, thus maximising the feeling of a small garden

Furthermore, a generous clearance underneath the table top and chair seats will afford you a clear view from the indoors out.

Opt for a narrow table with a slim top and simple, streamlined legs (ones that are set at an angle rather than just straight up and down will look more modern) and team with a set of skinny dining chairs with slinky legs.

6. Highlight the space

Small patio area covered by wooden pergola

(Image credit: Future PLC/Malcolm Menzies)

If your tiny patio is truly struggling to make itself viewed as a feature, something as simply as differentiating the area with a fresh coat of paint can work wonders. When it comes small patio ideas on a budget, or if you don't have time to make much more of a change, then this could be perfect for you.

Get to work with one of the best pressure washers for the pavers, too, and the area will feel refreshed and more welcoming.

7. Embrace the power of pattern

corner sofa and floor tiles and white table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

To make a small space stand out, using floor tiles that are patterned is an easy but effective for patio paving ideas

'Patterned tiles create interest and add contrast to what can otherwise be a bland space,' agrees Colin Lincoln-Evans, buyer at Tile Mountain. 'Plus, they don’t have to cover the entire area to be effective. For a small patio, using a large tile with a simple pattern will minimise the grout lines and ensure the space doesn’t look cluttered’.

Another benefit of using large tiles to floor a small patio is that you won’t need many of them, saving you time, money and effort. Consider choosing porcelain tiles over ceramic ones; the latter option is the cheaper one, but the manufacturing process of porcelain tiles makes them ultra resistant to staining, cracking and UV fading, arguably making them a more sensible choice in the long run.

8. Creat an immersive planting scheme

small patio with small garden and l shaped bench

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Large planters and troughs can take up masses of space on a small patio, so incorporating them into seating instead is a clever idea. Plus, a bespoke seating area will utilise all the nooks and crannies that your space has, and can be tailored to your taste.

Tropical plants, such as ferns, are easy to maintain and all that lush greenery will add colour and personality to your patio and break up the expanse of wood.

Check which tropical plants need full sun, shade or a bit of both, before you buy though, or consider artificial tropical plants that will, ‘inject biophilic beauty without worrying about the maintenance that comes with a garden’, as Joanne Evans from Homescapes advises.

9. Form a clear walkway

patio area with mirror door and cream tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Just like in a bedroom where pushing a bed up against a wall, rather than in the middle of the room, can free up floor space, the same applies to a small patio.

To further enhance the space, choose straight-edged over curved furniture that can sit flush against a wall or fence. You want to create a clear pathway, but balance the positioning of the furniture so you have equal amounts on either side. This will avoid your patio from looking like a storage space!

Soft furnishing such as cushions, throws and tablecloths will break up the straight lines, adding pattern and personality along the way.

10. Add soft pastels

small patio with table and chair and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A pastel colour palette will help with keeping your small patio ideas light, but with the added bonus of creating a pretty look that’s full of charm and cheer. The key is to  mix and match three to four harmonious hues – this will ensure a sense of style and cohesion, and avoid it from looking monotonous.

On a practical note, when it comes to patio chairs, light shades won’t absorb the sun as much as dark ones, so they’ll be cooler to the touch when those heat waves hit.

Chalk paint is ideal to achieve this halcyon look – use to upcycle existing garden furniture or invest in a no-frills patio set and get happy with a paintbrush.

11. Use a mirror to double the space

outdoor mirror with wooden wall and table and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Still)

The still-going-strong penchant for outdoor mirror ideas has resulted in a seemingly endless choice of style, shapes and sizes to appease all tastes. But they’re not just pretty faces! Position them with precision and they can double the size, light and beauty of a small patio.

Seek out one that’s long and rectangular to reflect a view that’s panoramic, creating a feeling of not just extra space, but a wider space.

It’s also important choose one that’s plain and simple – that means no fussy features nor fancy frames - as what you want to enhance is the illusion of space, rather than the mirror itself.

Be mindful of where and how you hang it, too. It needs to be positioned at eye level and opposite the nicest view (because who wouldn’t want a double injection of beauty!) and somewhere that frequently catches the sun.

12. Avoid overwhelming furniture choices

patio garden with foldaway table and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Turn the old adage, ‘the bigger the better’ on its head when it comes to small patio ideas, as Claire from Garden Trading advocates, ‘to make the most of small outdoor spaces, opt for furniture that is not too overwhelming in size.

'Petite bistro sets are perfectly suited to smaller patios and gardens as they don’t take too much floor space and can be folded and hidden away’. Painting them in a bright colour will inject some personality and joy on grey days.

13. Consider a pack-away patio

indoor living space with walls and fence

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Bridget Peirson)

If your small patio is directly outside your indoor living space, you may want to keep sightlines into the garden clear and unfussy. A neat and neutral space could work for you and can easily be achieved.

Go for pale or bleached uniformed decking or paving, and reflect the colour and style of this on the surrounding walls and fences to form a seamless feel. 

The idea is to create a blank canvas, but by opting for a soothing shade and simple style choices, such as tongue and groove and block paving, it will look warm and chic rather than cold and stark.

Be savvy with your furniture choices, too – chairs that can be stacked or folded and packed away in a finger click will tick the practicality box but put equal importance on good looks – beach or director-style chairs with a canvas seat and back look and feel smart and comfy. 

Team with one or two butler tray tables – they are brilliant space savers, can be stored away speedily, look chic and are budget friendly.

14. Define the space with a rug

brick wall with rug and trees

(Image credit: traumteppich.com)

An outdoor rug has been a ‘thing’ now for a good few seasons, and for good reason. They deliver on so many levels – from softening decking underfoot and adding pattern and colour, to anchoring furniture and defining the space. Oh, and as they are so affordable, they’re a brilliant idea for small patio ideas on a budget.

‘We have seen a huge increase in demand for garden furnishings such as cushions and rugs, ‘ says Joanne from Homescapes. ‘They are popular as they offer a quick update to upgrade your patio spaces easily, plus, they can give the illusion of a larger space.'

15. Trick the eye with a feature wall

feature wall with grain leaves mural

(Image credit: The Baked Tile Co.)

 Feature walls can be just as effective outdoors as they are indoors, but as wallpaper isn’t an option, consider a canvas or tiled mural instead. Not only will it look beautiful and turn heads, it’ll be the focus of the patio, taking the attention away from the patio (and its smallness) itself. In fact, choosing one wall that goes across the whole width of your patio will make the small garden space look bigger and wider.

Murals also get brownie points for their escapist qualities – choose a botanical scene or water feature to evoke a sense of tranquillity, a walled garden with a beguiling mirror to blur the lines between reality and fairy tale fantasy or a sun, sea and sand setting to transport you straight to a tropical island.


What is the ideal patio size?

'An ideal patio needs to be large enough to encompass all the elements that are important to you and your family - for example, an outdoor dining area and somewhere to sit and relax, but with enough room to move comfortably around the space,' explains Colin from Tile Mountain.

For how to work this out, Francesca from Bridgman advises to, ‘measure your living room and use similar dimensions for your patio. This will ensure the patio is definitely spacious enough for ample outdoor seating.'

'If you’re unsure, rope off the proposed area and place your outdoor furniture inside it to see how it fits,' she suggests. If you don’t have your furniture yet, lay rope or tape in the shape of the sets you’re looking to buy’.

What can I do with a small patio?

‘If you are finding it hard to incorporate everything you need into your space, try finding space saving, or ‘double purpose’ items to use’, suggests Stefan Gheorghe, Design Expert from Homedit.com, ‘Seating benches which double up as storage can be a great option to save space while still providing a fantastic family dining area.’

'Steer clear of cluttering up petite patio areas with furniture that sits empty most of the time,' warns garden furniture expert Francesca. 'Use smart, stylish and space-saving flexible furniture like stackable chairs, bar stools and even loungers that can be stacked on top of each other and stored away when not in use. Pair with a foldable table for a set you can effortlessly move to one side whenever you choose’.

And, remember, if your patio is already ticking all the main boxes then sometimes just giving it a clean can give a tired space a whole new lease of life. The best patio cleaners on the market are a quick, easy and hassle-free way to shift dirt and grime. 

Fiona Galley

Fiona Galley has been a Freelance Journalist since 2015, contributing to lifestyle titles both on-line and in print. Previously, she was the in-house Lifestyle Editor at Essentials magazine, where she styled shoots, compiled shopping sections and looked after the reader homes pages.  

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