15 patio furniture ideas to pretty up a paved space

Elevate your outdoor space with our patio furniture ideas to ensure yours is ready for entertaining family and friends

Metal patio table and chairs on patio with mirror hung on wall behind
(Image credit: Nkuku)

As soon as Spring shows it's first signs of arrival, there's nothing better than flinging open the back doors and enjoying our patio spaces again, which can often feel like an extension of our homes. 

Just like you would with your interior choices, patio furniture ideas are well worth researching to ensure you pick the right set for your space. Or perhaps your old set just needs a spruce up. But whatever patio ideas you are looking for, patio furniture ideas are one of your first places to start.

Whether your garden has a sprawling stone-slabbed patio, a gravelled stepped deck, a bijoux balcony, or even if you're looking for patio paving ideas to start with, the right dressing and furniture will turn it into a welcoming outdoor space that you’ll want to spend time in.

Patio furniture ideas

When it comes to planning your patio furniture ideas, Lou Peterson, Head of Design at DFS, recommends you start by visualising how you’d love to use your outdoor space. ‘Whether for entertaining friends, family dining or as a space to relax and read a book in solitude, once you’ve established this, your furniture choices will fall into line – they form the centrepiece of your patio area’, she says.

The best patio furniture ideas combine comfort and style. From compact bistro sets and built-in benches to sprawling outdoor sofas, seating and surfaces are usually the focal point, so start there. Factor in the space you have, as well as the number of people you’d like to accommodate. Then move on to the home comforts.

‘Once you’ve selected your outdoor furniture, you can then complete the look with carefully chosen accessories. Soft throws, rugs, scatter cushions, candles and plants will help transform a patio area into a beautiful oasis, ensuring it’s a space you’ll want to stay in long after the sun goes down,' says Lou.

Don’t forget practicalities either – investing in all-weather designs, along with great garden lighting, shade and outdoor heaters or fire pits will ensure you can use your patio space all year round.

1. Give an old bench a lick of paint

Garden bench on patio in front of garden fence painted grey

(Image credit: Protek)

Revive an old garden bench with this great garden paint idea, to give it a new lease of life and take centre stage on your patio. Start by removing any old flaking paint, moss or cobwebs and give the whole thing a quick sand down. If it's not been painted before, begin with a wood primer, otherwise you can paint straight on top of the old stuff. 

We love this shade of Royal Exterior Dove Grey, £19.20 for 1L, Protek to give your garden seating a subtle yet stylish uplift. 

2. Bring your indoor dining set outside

Dining table covered in linen tablecloth sat outside on patio underneath wooden pergola

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

Rather than splash out on a new dining set for your patio, why not transport your indoor dining furniture outside to make the most of the warm weather. As long as you know it's going to be dry day, it will be fine to play host to your family and friends. 

If it's looking a little iffy, or if the sun is particularly strong, set up your table under shelter such as a pergola, awning or your garden room ideas with the doors thrown open.

3. Take inspiration from far flung locations

Exotic themed garden furniture made of cane on patio next to leafy foliage

(Image credit: Nkuku)

Bring that holiday vibe to your garden all year long with furniture that transports you to sunnier climes. Furniture made of rattan, cane or bamboo will instantly lift your outdoor space and make it feel a little more tropical. A jute pouffe acting as a coffee table, creates a relaxed space and an outdoor rug adds to the outdoor living room vibe. 

4. Soften metal furniture with textiles

Metal patio table and chairs on patio with mirror hung on wall behind

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

Metal tables and chairs can sometimes look and feel a little cold in Spring, while equally in the summer they can heat up quickly, so add some table linen and cushions to add comfort.  An old curtain thrifted from a charity shop makes a great table cloth and could even be used to make matching cushion pads for chairs and benches. 

A mirror hung behind your patio furniture will help to create an outdoor dining room feel and make even a small patio feel larger. 

5. Inject some fun with a swing seat

Swing seat hanging outside over pink tiled patio infront of pink painted homemade bar

(Image credit: Future Plc/Darren Chung)

Add some personality to your patio with a swing hung from your pergola or outdoor structure! It's a great trick for smaller patios as it won't take up precious floor space but adds an extra seat that can easily be removed if you need it to. 

You'll need to make sure what you're hanging it from can take the weight, but other than that, just pick your hanging seat and get swinging! A great talking point for garden party ideas, you'll be wanting to hang more of these swings on your patio! 

6. Dine in style – with room for everyone

patio area with large table and bench seating

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

If you’ve got a large family to cater for, or you’re a fan of entertaining, it’s worth investing in a generously sized table to make full use of your outdoor patio space. If you’re planning to leave your patio furniture out all year round, robust designs are a must.

This sturdy table has a cement fibre top that’s weatherproof and stylish, too. For casual dining, use budge-along benches instead of chairs to ensure there’s a seat for everyone – including little ones.

6. Save space with a neat bistro set

patio area with bistro set and planting

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Pretty yet compact, a bistro set is a brilliant small patio idea. Chunky, rectangular dining sets may look inviting, but it’s not much use if you can’t pull the chairs out! Circular tables take up less room and are a great choice for creating an intimate, sociable atmosphere.

‘Bistro sets are often foldable or stackable so you can enjoy a table for two when you need it and more space when you don’t,' say the experts at Homebase. ‘For the occasions when you know you’ll be inviting more guests, it’s worth investing in some lightweight, foldable chairs that can easily be stored away when you’re not using them.'

Creating defined zones can be tricky when you’re dealing with a small outdoor space, however, here, planters have been used to section off the seating area from the rest of the patio – a neat little trick.

7. Set up a secluded chill-out space

patio area with rattan armchair and planting

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Positioning a chair amongst planting brings a cosy reading nook vibe with all the added benefits that come from spending time in nature. Opt for a statement design that’s as comfortable as it is stylish, such as this flower-inspired rattan-effect chair.

Relaxed shapes and flexible weaves are preferable to hard wood or metal, but you can always add cushions for comfort if you need to. Keep a blanket close by to snuggle under once the sun goes down.

When choosing colours for your patio décor ideas, opt for shades that will complement your garden’s greenery. Bold planters are a step up from terracotta pots and are a great way to introduce some pattern – blush pink, grey and green create an eye-catching scheme.

8. Hang around in an on-trend egg chair

patio area with hanging egg chair

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

If you’re looking for a touch of luxe, a swaying nest chair deserves a spot on your patio. Stylish, comfortable and totally instagrammable, friends will be scrabbling over who gets to sit in it, that’s for sure.

Opting for an open weave design means you can see right through to the garden beyond. That’s assuming you want to, of course – a closed design has the advantage of hiding anything unsightly – think ugly fencing or a weather-worn shed, for example!

9. Throw shade with a party-worthy parasol

patio area with round bench and parasol

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

If there’s no natural shade in your patio area, invest in a parasol to provide shelter on hot (or rainy) days. You don’t need to blow the budget on a stylish patio cover idea either – you can transform a plain canvas design into a party-perfect centrepiece by securing ribbons at each point and wrapping the pole with brightly coloured washi tape.

10. Add a pop of colour with eco-friendly plastic

patio area with seating made from recycled plastic

(Image credit: Lifestyle Garden)

If your outdoor space is lacking bright plants and flowers, plastic patio furniture is a great way to introduce colour. Opt for recycled plastic furniture where you can – as well as being better for the environment, it’s durable and low-maintenance, so great for you, too.

These pretty pastel chairs have been made from recycled bottles. Mix and match shades for a summery scheme

11. Embrace laid-back lounging

relaxed lounging area on gravel patio with deck chairs and fire pit

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Gather deck chairs around a fire pit to create the ultimate festival vibe on a summer evening. Don’t feel like you have to stick to just one style of chair – opting for different materials and fabrics creates a fun, eclectic feel.

Encourage laid-back lounging with a few floor cushions and cosy blankets dotted around, too. A fire pit provides warmth long into the evening, so having some patio lighting ideas handy will ensure you don’t need to retreat inside when the sun goes down.

Draping festoon lighting around trees, poles or a pergola is a clever way of defining your chill-out zone and lights it up come nightfall, while candles placed in lanterns add magical ambience.

12. Build in corner seating

patio area with built in seating and table

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Built-in corner seating utilises every inch of space and provides ample room for larger gatherings. This L-shaped design has been built from the same bricks as the wall behind it, making the space feel bigger and creating a lovely sense of flow.

If you’re taking the bespoke route, consider installing benches with lids to store outdoor cushions, toys and accessories.

14. Set aside a shady spot

patio area with shady spot under an arbour

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

If you’ve got the space, a corner-style arbour will create a peaceful patio cover so you can enjoy time outdoors come rain or shine. Give it a modern update by painting in bold shades or stick to wood for a more traditional feel.

You can always add colourful outdoor cushions if you want a pop of colour, and they’ll make for a more comfortable seating experience, too – bonus.

15. Create an outdoor living room

patio area turned into an outdoor living room with monochrome paving and lots of cushions

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Continue your indoor style outside by dressing your patio with ‘inside’ furniture choices and accessories. Make use of garden discount codes to pick up stylish additions such as armchairs, candles and cushions. As you would in a living room, group furniture closely and position seating within easy reach of a side table to create a sociable and stylish alfresco lounge.

Work in tandem with your patio paving ideas by ditching dull slabs in favour of an on-trend monochrome patterned tile or lay a colourful outdoor rug underfoot to complete the cosy living room look.

Does patio furniture need to be covered?

It’s sometimes hard to tell what you’re going to get weatherwise, and when you’re going to get it for that matter! Hailstones in summer? It’s been known!

While weatherproof finishes are designed to withstand these sorts of conditions, experts advise you cover your patio furniture when not in use to keep it in peak condition for as long as possible.

‘During the warmer months, furniture should be covered to protect from garden debris and to keep it as clean as possible,' says Tim Pennell, head of sales at Bramblecrest. 'Ideally, cushions should be moved somewhere dry, but if that’s not possible, cover your furniture with the cushions on but check weekly to ensure there’s no build-up of condensation.Ideally, cushions should be moved somewhere dry, but if that’s not possible, cover your furniture with the cushions on but check weekly to ensure there’s no build-up of condensation.'

What patio furniture lasts the longest?

Most patio furniture has been designed with longevity in mind, however, some materials are more likely to retain their good looks for longer. If wooden outdoor furniture is your preference, Tim from Bramblecrest recommends opting for hardwoods such as teak.

‘A naturally good-looking material, teak contains high levels of oil, making it water-resistant and able to withstand exposure to the variable British climate,' Tim says. Acacia has similar benefits but is less expensive than teak, and more sustainable, too.

The most-used metals for outdoor furniture are steel, wrought iron and aluminium. The latter is the best option in terms of longevity, as it’s naturally rust-resistant, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for furniture with an aluminium frame.

Most ‘rattan’ outdoor furniture we see now is actually a plastic polymer – referred to by most manufacturers as an ‘all-weather rattan’. While the natural version isn’t the best when it comes to durability, this synthetic alternative can be left out in all seasons and looks just as stylish – it’s usually cheaper than wood, too.

Like with indoor furniture, you need to brace yourself for wear and tear. However, investing in good-quality materials and looking after your patio furniture – and protecting it from the elements as best you can – are the best ways to ensure it stands the test of time.

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.

With contributions from