Need patio decorating ideas? Try these ideas to transform your patio into an outdoor space you will use and love. Turn your patio into an oasis for spending time relaxing or entertaining friends and family.
Let’s talk about small patio decorating ideas. When we downsized our home our patio also downsized. By a lot! Learning how to decorate our concrete slab patio to be functional, cozy, and inviting was a challenge!
I’m sharing how I created a small space that lives large and is perfect for just Bobby and me or for family and friends as well. And I’m you can see pictures of both summer and fall on the patio so you can get lots of small patio decorating ideas!
Today’s post is part of my Evolution Of A Room Series. See other room transformations at the end of this post.
My friends Ann at On Sutton Place and Lory at Designthusiam are sharing their patios too! Check out their posts at the bottom of this page.
OUR PATIO STORY
Moving from a big open area patio to one that was small and intimate took some getting used to!
Here is our StoneGable patio…
Here’s our summer patio tucked under our sunroom at the Tanglewood House…
Actually, the porch at our Tanglewood House was almost a deal breaker! It was the one thing I did not like and could not change!
The big concern for us is that there was really no easy access from the house to the patio. We either had to walk around the house to the backyard or go through the unfinished basement to access the patio.
We also knew that the footprint of our home could not be changed as we belong to a Home Owners Association and there are very strict rules about the appearance of all the villas.
Bobby and I had many discussions about the one big thing on our con list and finally decided the pro list was so strong it outweighed the location of the porch.
Our plan is to finish part of the basement and make it another living space with a bathroom so eventually, we will be walking downstairs to a large rec room and then outside french doors to the patio.
Here’s another view of the patio ready for fall…
The best part of our patio is the views…
We overlook part of the golf course and a horse farm. Bobby love to sit on the patio and watch the golfers on the 7th tee!
Even though we can look out on the golf course we have a lot of privacy.
So let’s talk about how to decorate a small patio. Here are a few things to think about when decorating a small patio space.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do when decorating a small patio is to think about how it will be used.
Bobby and I thought about how we would like to live in this space. Here are all the things we wanted our patio to be used for…
- a seating area to enjoy our surroundings, read, watch football, chat, play games
- a place for outdoor dining
- a gathering place for entertaining friends and family
- a place for our grandbabies to play
That’s a tall order for this small patio space. We hoped we could check off all the boxes but we knew we would have to get a bit creative.
Before decorating any space it is always important to first know how the space should function.
PATIO DECORATING IDEAS AND DESIGN
The next step in the patio decorating process is to access the patio design. Know the dimensions, the shape, the architectural elements, materials, and any other important things about the space.
Here are the physical stats of our patio…
- it measures 12×12
- concrete floor
- the patio is covered
- access through glass basement doors
- open on one end with access to the yard
- the other sides of the patio had two sitting walls that acted like long benches and made the space feel like a room
- electrical outlets
- outdoor lighting
In other words, this patio had nice elements but it was pretty much a blank slate and quite small.
DEFINING THE PATIO
This patio basically defined itself!
It was perfect for an outdoor living room. One of the big advantages of our patio is that it is covered and somewhat protected from the elements.
I was very excited about having an outdoor living room!
PATIO DECORATING IDEAS-WHAT TO PUT IN AN OUTDOOR LIVING ROOM
The next step is to decide what things you would like to put in your patio.
We first made a list of what we wanted in our outdoor oasis…
- throw pillows
- comfy chairs (brought from StoneGable)
- coffee table
- side table/ accent table (brought from StoneGable)
- rocking chair (Bobby’s must-have brought from StoneGable)
- outdoor rug
- garden stools (brought from StoneGable)
- extra seating
- string lights
That seemed like a lot of things to put on a small outdoor patio!
Your measuring tape will be your best friend when seeing what will fit on a small patio and what will make it look too crowded.
It’s important to measure your space, the items you want to go on your patio, and the negative space around all your furniture. Too many items in a small space or too little negative space between them will make your small patio seem even smaller!
DEFINE A COLOR PALETTE
Like all other decorating, defining a color palette is important. It creates a cohesive and attractive look. And in a small space, a color palette is particularly important!
We did not want to replace the chairs we brought from StoneGable because they were very good chairs and in great condition! So we worked the rest of the patio around them. They became our inspiration!
Because of the chairs, blue played a very big role in our color palette. I decided to play up color on the patio for a happy and bright vibe! I also brought lime green garden stools from StoneGable so I thought it would be fun to use them as drink tables on the patio. So lime green became the accent color for our summer patio.
Here is our outdoor room’s summer color palette…
Blue and green look amazing together because they are analogous colors.
And this is the color palette for the fall. Lime green is switched out for burnt yellow-orange.
Blue and burnt yellow/orange are complementary colors and work beautifully together too.
It was so easy to change the look of the patio by changing only one color in the color palette!
I think there is a huge takeaway when talking about changing color palettes seasonally! Knowing the right colors to change make seasonally decorating so easy, no matter what room in your home, even an outdoor one!
PATIO DECORATING IDEAS
The chairs became the inspiration for our outdoor room!
The cushions are incredibly comfortable on these ample chairs! The pair sits along one sitting wall side of the patio with an accent table we also brought from StoneGable in between them. I found both chairs and an accent table at Birch Lane years ago.
They have a definite style with wrought iron frames so it was important to find a sofa with a metal frame too.
The first thing I hunted down was the white sofa. Because it sat on the longest sitting wall I looked for a long sofa.
Finding the right sofa for our patio ended up being much harder than I thought! There was not a huge selection of metal framed outdoor sofas. And they were often out of my price range! Actually, many of them cost more than my indoor sofas!
Also many of today’s patio furniture is rather large and way too big to work with our small-ish patio!
Another limiting factor was the cushions. White cushions were non-negotiable! And they had to zip off so I could wash them.
With lots of looking, I found the one we have now. I can’t say it’s exactly what I had in my decorating mind’s eye but it is close enough.
THE COFFEE TABLE
I was lucky enough to find a metal coffee table that matched the accent. In a space this small I liked the idea of the accent table and the coffee table matching. Keeping a limited number of patterns really helps a small space from looking busy or visually over stimulating.
Before I settled on this blue and white indoor outdoor rug I bought and returned three other rugs. I am the queen of returns.
I initially wanted to add a bit of natural sisal color to our color palette but the sisal rug looked dull against the chairs.
Then I tried a couple more subtle blue and white rugs before I decided a bright bold rug was the way to go.
The rug anchors the outdoor room and is large enough that the front legs of the sofa and the chairs sit on it comfortably. The rug also adds a lot of texture to our outdoor space.
THE ROCKING CHAIR
One of Bobby’s must-have items on the patio was a rocker. We had eight rocking chairs around the porch at StoneGable and we loved rocking summer evenings away in them.
Although I think the rocker makes the patio a bit crowded, it was important for Bobby to be able to rock on the patio so, of course, it is important to me too.
It’s so sweet to see him enjoying the evening rocking in his chair!
We have a few mesh stacking chairs we keep in the basement to use as needed.
They are lightweight and comfortable and are not visually heavy either!
THE BAR CART
Because we like to have friends and family on the patio for drinks and nibble or even a meal I wanted a bar cart to use as a drink station and to hold things like dinnerware, flatware, napkins, and more.
We have a beautiful black metal and glass bar cart but it was too big for the patio.
So I went in a totally different and more fun direction!
I found this very bright lime green folding bar cart to tuck in the back corner of our patio. This brightly colored cart gets so much use!
PLANTERS AND POTTED PLANTS
Having greenery, organics, and flowers on the patio is a must! So each season, spring, summer, and fall I plant our pots and planters with blooming annuals.
In the summer, the self-watering planter boxes on the sitting wall are filled with dragon wing begonia.
The begonia were just planted in this picture. They become a profusion of big droopy red blooms and huge winged leaves.
In the fall these planters are filled with mums.
Since moving to the Tanglewood House I’ve become obsessed with container gardening.
I like to fill all sorts of containers with seasonal flowers and plants!
My favorite planters are these Chinese Fish Bowls. I’ve had them for decades. They used to be in our foyer but now they work as outside planters.
PILLOW AND OTHER DECOR
Throw pillows are like jewelry! What would a living room be without throw pillows?
And I like to use organic seasonal decor on the patio like pumpkin in the fall!
Other things like trays, bowls, decorative balls, and coasters show up on the patio too! I’ve been rethinking my decorative items and will probably streamline them in the spring.
One of the things we hoped to do on our patio was to dine al fresco. But we had no room for a dining table!
So we had to get a bit creative! And being creative is the best small patio decorating idea!
Tucked in the left corner behind the comfy chairs is a black table that houses indoor/outdoor tray tables.
These little tables are so handy!
The key to outdoor dining is to keep it simple! We usually set up drinks and food on the bar cart and coffee table and let everyone help themselves!
When our children and grandchildren come, we lay a blanket on the ground in the outdoor area in front of the patio for the little ones to have a picnic! There is plenty of room beyond our patio to eat and play!
My favorite way to entertain friends and family is to have drinks and nibble or dessert after dinner. The patio looks so pretty lit up with lanterns and candles! I think beautiful ambiance creates magical evenings!
I love evenings on the patio!
KEEPING THE AFTERNOON SUN OFF THE PATIO
Another thing that is important to think about is the sun! After all we are outdoors. Too much direct sunshine in the summer can be an issue.
The sunsets from our patio are beautiful however that means in the heat of the summer the patio is only partially in the shade! So we needed to deal with the sun.
I would have loved to have outdoor curtains on the opening of our patio, but three sides of the patio get sun at some part of the afternoon and evening so we ended up getting outdoor shades. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of them.
The installation was an easy DIY project! Bobby was able to add them to our patio in one afternoon!
They are remote-controlled and match the color of our siding. You can see them HERE. They add a huge measure of comfort to our patio. These shades not only filter out the sun but the heat as well. And we can raise and lower them together or independently of one another.
One of the things on our list we wanted for our small patio area was an outdoor fireplace. However, our HOA says any outdoor fireplaces are a big no no! I understand their thinking.
A good attitude to have when we decorate is to accept the things we absolutely can’t change and embrace all the great things you can do!
Would I love to have a big fireplace or fire pit? Of course! But I look at all the living we are cramming into our outdoor living room and I’m thrilled
I hope you will use some of these small patio decorating ideas at your home!
YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS FROM OUR EVOLUTION OF A ROOM SERIES…
MORE PATIO IDEAS
See more room evolutions at the Tanglewood House…
VISIT MY FRIEND’S POSTS
Please visit my friend’s patio posts below…