Garden seating ideas – outdoor seating to suit all, from small balconies to family gardens

Get comfy with our outdoor seating ideas incorporating everything from sofas to sun loungers
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  • To truly enjoy your outdoor space, good outdoor seating is essential. With the growing trend for creating outdoor living rooms the options for garden seating are plentiful these days.

    Aside from the traditional garden bench or weatherproof dining set (though both still work) we’re seeing corner sofas and coffee tables dressing the patio too.

    Get your borders in orders with more of our garden ideas

    From plush corner sofa sets and designer egg chairs to Do It Yourself pallet sofas, you can create the ideal outdoor seating on any budget for any occasion. Whether that’s entertaining at your next summer barbecue or curling up with a Richard and Judy Book Club special and working on that tan…

    So sit back and enjoy our garden seating ideas!

    Garden seating ideas

    1. Choose informal dining furniture

    garden corner sofa

    Image credit: Next

    Let your furniture choices dictate how you use the garden, by choosing a more informal and laid-back dining table with a corner sofa sets the scene for casual dining. A comfy corner sofa at the dining tables helps to make the area feel more inviting at alternative times of the day – not such while you’re serving lunch or dinner.

    2. Make multipurpose seating work for your outdoor space


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    If you have a small garden or indeed a small budget, opt for multipurpose seating solution such as pouffes and floor cushions. They can be used as extra seating when required but remain useful as alternative accessories – a footstool is the perfect accompaniment to a garden armchair, to pop feet up and enjoy a snooze in the sunshine.

    3. Swing in style with a fashionable egg chair


    Image credit: Tim Young

    Hanging chairs are the dream for achieving a feeling of complete relaxation. When you take a seat in a suspended chair you are quite literally taking the weight off, creating a sense of floating – and when you close your eyes that sense can be heightened. In a garden this calming feeling is enhanced by the sounds and sights of being surrounded by nature.

    A smart idea, as seen here, is to concealed the frame within a planted border to add to visual effect of the chair freely floating in the space. Great for small gardens, as the free flowing space beneath the chair helps to make it feel less imposing.

    4. Build a brick banquette

    Country cottage-style patio garden with built-in L-Shaped seating and a pale wood table and chair set

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    One good way to incorporate seating into grassless garden ideas without it taking up a lot of space is to make it part of a retaining fence or wall. If it’s a fence, you could build a simple bench in a matching wood stain. And if it’s brick, you can build a more substantial banquette, topped with stone slabs and cushions for comfort.

    Pull up a table and extra chairs for a dining area that can seat the whole family and a few hangers-on!

    5. Build seating around a fire pit

    garden Seating idea around a fire pit

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Build a seating area around a fire pit, and you’ll be able to lounge around for longer on summer nights. Build a central fire pit a safe distance from where you wish to place your seating, whether that be a built-in pallet corner sofa (like the one above) or existing outdoor furniture which can be placed against the wall.

    6. Share the same principles of indoor furniture layouts

    Garden seating ideas 1

    Image credit: Alasdair McIntosh

    The easiest way to make your patio space feel like an outdoor living room is to mirror the layout of an indoor living room. Choose a central point of focus, using the fire pit instead of a fireplace, to place a sofa and a matching armchair opposite each other.

    Keep things simple with a set of sleek grey garden furniture. However, grey doesn’t have to mean boring. Add a pop of colour with accent cushions in neon yellow and navy blue, pair with a woven orange blanket for those chilly evenings.

    7. Use a quite corner to carve out a reading nook

    garden with corner seat

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    An arbour placed in the corner of a garden creates the perfect place to escape and loose yourself in a good book. Choose a design where you can encourage climbing plants to grow around the frame, to enhance the feeling of being immersed within the garden. Paint the structure an on-trend dark shade to make the surrounding greenery really standout.

    8. Make the most of every available space

    Garden seating ideas 2

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Make the most out of every alcove in your garden by building in a bench between two flower beds. Surround the little bench with gorgeous scented plants to make this the perfect place to hide away with a good book, stimulated by nature.

    A few lanterns won’t go amiss, either, allowing you to enjoy the space as dusk settles.

    9. Cleverly use courtyard corners

    Garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Use every inch of outdoor space to its  full potential with clever seating ideas. A courtyard area has the potential to feel quite enclosed, simply by the nature of surrounding brick walls.

    Using clever corner seating will not only use the space most effectively, the high-back design will also hide a large portion of the imposing walls.

    10. Furnish your decking

    garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    We all love a garden deck, but unless there’s some carefully placed garden furniture on it, the chances are we’re not actually going to spend too much time on it. Cue a humble wooden garden bench, a few choice homeware accessories and the addition of some day-to-night lighting. And voilà, you’ve got a usable outdoor seating space that you can truly call your own.

    11. Build your own pallet sofa

    Garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    If you’re always humming that DIY ditty ‘If I Had a Hammer’, this could be the way to go. Pallet furniture is surprisingly easy to put together, costs very little compared to off-the-shelf solutions and can be configured to seat as many – or as few – as you and your space dictates.

    DIY stores like Homebase and B&Q will sell everything you need to get going – including those all-important seat pads. Our top tips? Sand carefully to prevent splintering and always coat your finished seats in a protective stain so they’ll look just as good next summer.

    Here’s how: How to make pallet garden furniture – a step-by-step guide

    12. Relax in style on a modern lounger

    Garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Faded yellow plastic loungers? No thank you. Sophisticated dark wood teamed with dark grey upholstery and a hooked-up pillow that won’t move out of position for an all-together classier and more comfortable recliner. Surround yourself with potted plants so you ca truly immerse yourself in the lush greenery of your garden… and relax!

    13. Commandeer a corner with a quaint bench

    Garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Thoughtfully use every corner of your garden, such an otherwise wasted space in a corner by popping in a bench and plenty of potted shrubs to add colour and foliage.

    The combination of trailing plants and pretty blooms helps to create a secluded, tranquil corner. Adding a small coffee tables creates a welcome space to sit and take five minutes with a cup of tea, appreciating a view of garden beyond.

    Dress the bench with cushions, to add a decorative touch as well as comfort.

    14. Set up a breakfast nook with a bistro set


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    We think it’s a good idea to set up a few different seating areas around a larger garden, so you can enjoy different aspects of your space throughout the day. Take advantage of the sun first thing in the morning and pick a bright spot where you can place a bistro table and chairs. OJ and avocado on toast, coming right up.

    15. Nail casual entertaining with a sofa set

    After 1 outdoor living room SAH June 17 p98 garden makeover
    Capitalise on a corner with an L-shaped sofa where you and friends can take in the whole garden. Add a chiminea and blankets so that you can enjoy the space long into the evening without a chill spoiling your fun.

    16. Make outdoor dining the focus

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    In a long, thin plot, accommodating a dining table can be tricky. But if you love to host, there’s an argument to make your table the focal point of the garden. Here, raised beds enclose the area for a cosier feel. It’s a good idea to plant scented flowers nearby, alongside herbs that can be picked fresh to use as garnishes.

    17. Set up a casual garden office

    bq garden sale

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    You might not want to go the whole hog and use your office as a shed – we need somewhere to store her tools and lawnmower, after all. But you could set up a small table and chair on the patio for impromptu studying. Keep your back to a busy plot so you’re not distracted by gardening jobs to do.

    18. Fill the floor with cushions

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    You don’t need lots of space or lots of money to incorporate more garden seating. Here, a shed has been commandeered as a bohemian sitting room, with cushions and stools scattered around so that there are multiple spots to settle down in and relax, in both the sun and the shade.

    19. Use seating to add colour


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Enjoy an evening drink a deux in armchairs that pop as brightly as your most colourful flowers. Clash if you can – either with a contrasting coffee table or  cushions and throws – for more fun and drama.

    20. Pop a bench in a narrow spot


    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Go old school with a bench, especially handy in small outdoor spaces. You never know when you might need a quick five-minute break after a strenuous gardening session, so a bench offers a convenient spot where you can a breather.

    Pop it in shade – under a tree or against an external wall – so that you can stay cool. The table next to this bench doubles as a drinks cooler, handy for keeping some thirst quenchers ready and waiting, too.

    Related: Best garden benches – wood, metal and cushioned designs with and without storage

    21. Squeeze more people in on benches

    small garden ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    A bistro set is an obvious choice for a small balcony or courtyard garden. However, as most come with only two seats, three instantly becomes a crowd. Switch in some benches, however, and suddenly you have room to host four or more. It’s cosy, yes, but definitely more fun.

    22. Install a sheltered seating area

    Garden seating ideas

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Take advantage of a neglected part of your garden by installing a gazebo for gossiping with the girls (or boys), away from the main house – it will provide shelter from showers or bright sunlight, making it a useful garden shade idea too.

    Teenagers might also appreciate a spot where they can chat with friends without Mum or Dad or younger siblings interrupting.

    Want a more substantial outbuilding? Garden shed ideas – projects and designs for your own special outdoor room

    23. Paint to protect and repurpose

    Image credit: Protek

    If your budget is tight try this nifty upcycling idea. Repurpose a dining table and chair set to provide the perfect spot for dining alfresco, all it need is the right paint to protect it from the elements. Prepare the wood with a clean and primer (if required) before adding your chosen colour to give the set a new lease of life for a garden patio.

    24. Set the scene for a snooze with a day bed

    Garden seating idea day bed

    Image credit: Spike Powell

    Place a traditional day bed in a secluded spot of the garden for the ideal place outdoors to take an afternoon siesta. Line the iron bed frame with comfy cushions, showerproof fabrics would be ideal, to make it irresistible for spending an afternoon relaxing in the garden. Store it in shelter during prolonged rainy spells, to prevent the frame from rusting.

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