With the right design, a patio can be made to feel as versatile and comfortable as your home’s interior living space. But not everyone has a sprawling backyard — or a patio to match.
Good news for those of us whose outdoor living areas are the size of hypothetical postage stamps:
Small patios can be stylish and functional, too!
As with any decor project, a little inspiration can go a long way. So here are some of our favorite small patio ideas that prove size doesn’t always matter!
25+ Small Patio Ideas
- Cozy Outdoor Living Room
- Functional Patio Pathway
- Outdoor Storage Solutions
- Slatted Privacy Screen
- Multi-Purpose Furnishings
- Wall-Mounted Decor
- Garden-Centric Design
- Vertical Planters
- Patio Nook
- Natural Wooden Furniture
- Hammock Chair
- Monochromatic Color Scheme
- Sunny Patio Table
- Simple Outdoor Sectional
- Makeshift Seating Area
- Matching Furniture Set
- Custom Patio Cushions
- Curved Modular Sofa
- Tropical Garden Backdrop
- Pergola Canopy
- Built-In Planter Boxes
- Sleek Poolside Patio
- Patterned Upholstery
- Folding Patio Furniture
- DIY Privacy Screen
- Minimalist Backyard Getaway
- Curtained Patio Lounge
1. Cozy Outdoor Living Room
One of the best things you can do when decorating a small space is to embrace its limited size. So instead of bemoaning your small patio, why not transform it into a cozy outdoor living room?
This patio doesn’t offer much in terms of square feet. But it’s still a place anyone would love to cuddle up in after a long day.
Comfortable seating and plenty of soft ambient lighting make this the perfect spot for reading, sipping, or conversing!
2. Functional Patio Pathway
If your small patio sits between your home and the rest of your yard, filling the space with furniture and decor can make it impassable. Be sure to take the natural flow of traffic into account when designing your outdoor living space.
In this example, the simple choice to arrange furniture along the sides of the patio makes a huge difference in its functionality. The result is not only practical but also makes the patio feel larger than reality.
3. Outdoor Storage Solutions
From gardening tools to dog toys, taking full advantage of your home's outdoor spaces often means owning a lot of stuff. Ensuring those items have a dedicated place to go when not in use will keep your patio clean and tidy.
Since space is a limited resource, opt for storage options that serve more than one purpose. The sleek storage bench on this apartment patio doubles as seating and a convenient place to display potted plants.
4. Slatted Privacy Screen
Relaxing on your patio isn’t very easy when you’re forced to make eye contact with neighbors and random passersby. On the other hand, you don’t want to make your patio feel even smaller by walling it off from the outside world.
This slatted wall is modern and incredibly practical. It’s a nice compromise between creating privacy and preserving the patio’s openness.
With a little planning and a few basic tools, this privacy wall is something you could DIY for your own space!
5. Multi-Purpose Furnishings
A small patio can’t accommodate multiple living areas each with a singular function. This patio design manages to strike a balance between style and practicality.
The ottoman can be used to extend the sofa or as a makeshift table. Several people can relax at one time — sitting or lying down — so the space feels anything but utilitarian.
6. Wall-Mounted Decor
You wouldn’t leave the walls of your living room bare. Yet a surprising number of people neglect to decorate the walls and fences around their patios.
Wall-mounted decor can be aesthetic and practical. These hanging planters add color and texture to the balcony without using up any valuable floor space.
7. Garden-Centric Design
Why force your small patio to carry all of the weight if you can let the surrounding garden be the star of your outdoor design? This cozy seating place does just that.
A green thumb certainly helps in recreating this gorgeous space. But you probably don’t need as much acreage as you think!
Opt for plants that grow up rather than out, and trim back shrubs and hedges for a tidier appearance.
8. Vertical Planters
Whether planted in the ground or kept in containers, living greenery is the best way to bring life to a backyard patio. Don’t let limited square footage be an excuse to leave your patio empty of flowers and foliage.
These simple hanging planters are perfect examples of how to add color without eating up usable space. You could even boost utility by filling the containers with edible herbs or fruit-bearing plants!
9. Patio Nook
This backyard patio design takes a space that could feel claustrophobic and turns it into the ultimate cozy retreat.
Lattice-topped fencing adds privacy without closing in the space entirely. The stylish, coordinated furniture makes the patio feel like a bona fide living room.
Sometimes, creating a patio your family will use means investing in pure practicality. Take note of the space heater featured here that certainly gets plenty of use in colder temps!
10. Natural Wooden Furniture
Wood furniture is timeless for a very good reason. In the outdoor living space, nothing blends more seamlessly with the surrounding landscape than natural wood.
By the way, everything in this patio space is mismatched. But, thanks to the magic of a wood finish, you probably didn’t notice until we pointed it out!
11. Hammock Chair
There are small patios and then there are tiny patios. If your outdoor living area falls into the latter category, creating the illusion of extra space can be just as important as the real thing.
The use of a hanging hammock versus a regular chair in this patio makes it feel more spacious. Placing planters atop the balcony railing is another great strategy that makes the most out of a very limited floor plan.
12. Monochromatic Color Scheme
There’s nothing more neutral than a backyard or garden vista. So your patio offers the perfect canvas for exploring bold colors in furniture and decor.
The all-blue furniture in this design is a wonderful break from natural wicker or rattan. It also creates some interesting opportunities to play with floral arrangements that match or clash with the chosen color scheme.
13. Sunny Patio Table
It’s tempting to shrink your small patio ideas down to consume as little space as possible. Don’t shy away from a large furniture set if it suits your lifestyle.
In this example, the table and chairs fit the patio perfectly — there’s no room to spare yet it’s not overbearing. Instead of swallowing up the small deck, it makes the space feel curated and stylish.
14. Simple Outdoor Sectional
A wall-to-wall sectional is an excellent option for any small patio that will largely be used for entertaining and relaxing.
This modular sofa makes perfect use of the available balcony space. There’s plenty of elbow room for hosting several people at one time (or sprawling out by yourself).
Note how the single seat toward the front naturally separates the patio seating area from the rest of the space.
15. Makeshift Seating Area
With a little bit of creativity, you can build a patio almost anywhere. This seating area, arranged over a layer of pea gravel, is just as functional as a structured deck or balcony.
Despite the lack of “flooring” here, everything else you’d expect to find in a well-styled patio is in place. Take a look around your yard and you may just discover a few areas practically begging for furniture.
16. Matching Furniture Set
When designing a small space, the visual busy-ness of furniture can have as big an impact as its physical size.
Opting for a simple, matching patio set is a foolproof way to streamline your outdoor aesthetic. Coordinating furniture is an absolute must when creating a modern-style patio.
17. Custom Patio Cushions
Accent textiles are integral to any interior design project. They’re also incredibly useful for making the most out of small patio space.
Outdoor upholstery is a perfect example of how you can keep your patio looking fresh and vibrant without any clutter. Invest in a furniture set with easily interchangeable cushions for maximum flexibility.
18. Curved Modular Sofa
Square footage is just one limitation you might encounter when outfitting your patio. If you’re also decorating around awkward shapes, a modular sectional may be your best option.
This sofa set is perfect for entertaining groups of all sizes. You can easily tailor the seating arrangement to suit your event. And there’s no need to shuffle around the fire pit since the sectional mirrors its shape.
19. Tropical Garden Backdrop
When you have minimal patio space to work with, Mother Nature can be your greatest decor resource. This tropical backyard takes full advantage of the foliage surrounding the patio surface.
This patio is clearly located somewhere palm trees and other tropicals thrive. However, you can also recreate this style using potted plants in a colder climate.
20. Pergola Canopy
No matter how much you love the summer heat, shade is a vital part of any functional patio design. A covered pergola is a more attractive, sturdier solution than a standard patio umbrella.
This example shows that a pergola doesn’t need to be huge to be worth your while. And, if you want to bask in the sun for a moment, the canvas canopy is easy to remove.
21. Built-In Planter Boxes
If you want to add color and texture to your patio without eating up valuable square footage with potted arrangements, look no further.
This deceptively simple design features built-in planter boxes along the patio’s edge. While the most obvious benefit is that part of your garden is constantly within arm’s reach, it also brings a touch of privacy to the patio as a whole.
22. Sleek Poolside Patio
Doing too much with a space can quickly make it feel cramped, even if you’re starting with a sizable footprint. Leaning into a modern aesthetic can conserve space on your patio without looking like you cut corners.
The contrasting materials and clean lines of this table set are perfect for the surrounding landscape. All it takes is a minimalist centerpiece to make the area feel carefully curated.
23. Patterned Upholstery
If you’re someone who just can’t get enough of bold colors and patterns, furnishing a small patio can be an incredible challenge. Stay away from unnecessary decor and add personality with fabric instead.
In this patio setup, the sofa cushions are the main attraction. If that’s still not enough “pop” for your tastes, swap out the area rug for something with more flair!
24. Folding Patio Furniture
Folding furniture is ideal for a small patio, especially if the space won’t always be used for a single purpose.
A set of folding chairs with a matching table will meet most needs. Opt for wooden pieces for an elevated look and feel. Adding custom upholstered cushions can also make your folding furniture feel more luxurious.
25. DIY Privacy Screen
It’s hard to feel comfortable lounging on your patio when neighbors and passersby can see your every move.
Constructing a privacy screen is a quick and easy project that can completely transform the way you use your outdoor living space.
This mesh privacy screen is a viable option for renters and owners alike.
26. Minimalist Backyard Getaway
Not every patio needs to be equipped for large groups. In fact, the best use of small patio space is often to transform it into a private oasis.
At first glance, this patio doesn’t have much to offer. But it includes everything one needs to enjoy a cup of morning coffee or read a pulp novel while basking in the sun.
27. Curtained Patio Lounge
Outdoor curtains offer tons of flexibility in terms of privacy, sun exposure, and even shelter from the wind.
These sheer patio curtains provide the best of both worlds by creating a cozy seating area that can be opened up at a moment’s notice. In this example, the enclosed patio is part of a larger outdoor living area.
But you could just as easily replicate this design as a standalone structure!