47 Small Patio Ideas That Enhance Even Tiny Outdoor Spaces | Architectural Digest


A tiny outdoor space may seem impossible to decorate, but with the help of some outside-the-box small patio ideas, it’s clear that there’s actually plenty you can do to make the most of your small outdoor space. A patio makeover doesn’t have to be a challenge, or a competition with greenery; in fact, with the right design, it can bridge the gap between your interior and exterior living spaces. You already know that an outdoor living room is a savvy investment. “Patios should be outdoor rooms,” says New York architect Kevin Lichten. “So scale, as in an indoor room, is the critical feature, along with material choices.” Meaning: A petite patio will look nicer with small bricks or river-run pebbles. Save the bigger bluestone pavers for a grander outside space. Implementing decorating idea such as a bevy of string lights, sleek outdoor furniture, or bringing in a firepit or outdoor rug as a much needed focal point can truly make a statement. You might not want to go back indoors after you read about AD’s 47 small patio ideas that work equally well in the backyard as the front yard.

How do I make a small inviting patio?

To make a small patio into a coveted alcove, provide a visual focus, like a small statue in a niche of boxwood or a sculptural tree that adorns the space, Lichten recommends. Adding a fish pond with koi, a gurgling fountain, or even a wind chime can further play into the sense of sound. A firepit checks a lot of boxes on the quest to a more inviting small patio, offering a distinct smell, sight, and sound. Installing a pergola can also create much desired shade and privacy.

How do I make my small patio more comfortable?

Extending the conveniences of the indoors to the outside is essential when creating a comfortable small patio. “Covering a patio defines it as more of an outdoor living space, giving it structure as well as extending its use throughout the day and, often, into the evening,” New York architect Eric J. Smith advises. “People can sit, lounge, or dine underneath a covered patio with flexible furniture arrangements, and adding a fan and some discreet lighting enhances the enjoyment.” A small outdoor bar or mini fridge can reduce back-and-forth trips to the house, making everyone feel more at ease, Smith adds. 

What can I put on a small patio?

Consider the typical elements of a living room when it comes to your patio design. A small outdoor coffee table offers a spot to place refreshments, though a side table can be used instead depending on your floor space. Think about how you plan to use the outdoor space—lounge chairs add a spot to enjoy the sunshine, while a bistro set is ideal if you envision enjoying a morning coffee alfresco. If the patio area is freestanding, building lattice panels on one side to use as a backdrop for the furniture is another solid option, Smith recommends. Alternatively, add a hammock for a bohemian makeover.  Read on for more small patio ideas hand-picked from designers and architects who know how to have a good time in an outdoor space.

1. Weather teak deck

In this space designed by Ani K Interiors, a weathered teak deck ties into the neutral color palette of the other patio elements, bringing the space together. 

Photo: Michael Alan Kaskel