Small + Simple Outdoor Living Spaces

Maximize the potential of small outdoor spaces with our ideas for petite patios, tiny decks, and more. Learn more about furniture, flooring, lighting, and more with our design ideas for small outdoor spaces.

Indoor-Outdoor Connection

Create ultracomfortable outdoor spaces by adding the same luxuries you enjoy in your living room. Furniture with plush cushions provides a great place to relax. A stylish indoor-outdoor light fixture suspended from the ceiling makes the space usable after dark. You might add weatherproof artwork, storage units, snazzy linens, a gurgling fountain, an overhead fan, or colorful pillows to get your space ready for living.

Editor's Tip: To continue the indoor feel, attach small lamps to walls and furniture rather than spending money on traditional landscape lighting. Install exterior power outlets on the deck and use furniture or stray flowerpots to keep the outlets hidden.

Color Up

Include a large patio umbrella in your outdoor layout. Besides offering much-needed shade to an unprotected patio, it provides a nice vertical element and brings in color overhead. Here, the bold blue of the umbrella and matching chair cushions add the perfect pop of color to the relatively neutral patio.

Perk Up Old Furniture

Use salvage items to add character and a personal touch to your outdoor room. One way to do this is by giving your tired patio furniture a facelift with spray paint. With so many colors and finishes now available for just about every type of surface, your makeovers are limited only by your imagination. Can't pick just one? Opt for a variety of colors for a fun and creative effect.

Make It Accessible

Ensure you use your patio by placing it where you can get to it easily. This patio is extra convenient as it’s sited just a couple steps down from French doors leading inside. A mix of stone and wood create a layered look.

Secluded Getaway

Need a relaxing escape? Build one in your own backyard. This outdoor space design features French doors, suspended divided-light windows, and a corrugated-metal roof—creating the impression of a fully enclosed space. Inside, a bed offers the perfect spot for an afternoon nap.

Editor's Tip: Make yourself comfortable and your space usable year-round by considering the effect of insects, sun, and humidity when you determine the features of your outdoor area.

Rooftop Contemporary

Create a high-end modern feel with contemporary furnishings. A gravel patio and simple plantings are the perfect choice for this rooftop space above a modern condominium with great city views.

Step Up

Use all-weather deck material to create an elevated patio. Large containers with lush plantings placed at the corners visually connect the patio to its surroundings. Consider matching the containers to the patio material for a unified look.

Cozy Corner

Create a cozy corner protected from breezes for a place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or afternoon tea. Outdoor furniture draws the eye, so select pieces that suit your style and your comfort needs. Make sure to choose durable furniture that withstands the elements.

Editor's Tip: For your own backyard redesign, determine your wish list, then measure and plot a practical size to accommodate those amenities. In this backyard, a pergola was desired. 

Playful Colors

Consider your audience when coming up with outdoor space ideas. A child’s dream come true, this playhouse features a front porch complete with a bistro table and chair, a flower box, and a string of colorful lights.

Divide the Space

Think of creative ways to use fences, structures, and plants to add personality and privacy to your outdoor relaxation area. A simple wood-slat wall adds privacy or creates multiple rooms within your outdoor space. This wall features a practical integrated bench and a window to visually connect the two spaces.

Welcoming Outdoor Room

Use simple materials to create a warm and welcoming outdoor room. Here, a basic deck is dressed up with wood pillars covered in thick greenery. A corrugated-metal roof provides a modern and distinctive touch. Bright fabrics and flowers add pops of color.

Distinctive Gazebo

Add beauty and function to your outdoor space with a distinctive gazebo. This eight-sided room features soft wraparound bench seating and an ottoman to maximize comfort and usability.

Let Nature Take Its Course

Who needs cut flowers to dress up a room? Pick a mix of colorful, fragrant, and cooling plants to surround your open-air space. Or, consider situating your outdoor living space plans to take full advantage of the privacy, shade, and beauty nature has to offer. Here, fall leaves provide the perfect backdrop to wicker outdoor furniture. Consistent with the natural feel, simple patio pavers delineate the space.

Green Thumb

Nothing ruins the desire to sit outside more than relentless, hot sunshine; a pergola ensures the outdoor room can be used any time of day. Green plantings serve as the artwork in this simple outdoor space. Potted shrubs dot the perimeter, while vines climb over the pergola in the background—adding extra shade. 

Countryside Comfort

Give your outdoor space a classic, carefree look with a simple metal table and comfy wicker chairs. This outdoor furniture layout is the perfect choice for this farmhouse porch with scenic country views.

Quaint and Cozy

For tight outdoor space designs, a quaint outdoor dining table and chairs are perfect for enjoying a casual meal and taking in the great outdoors. Here, a bistro table with armless chairs fits the bill without crowding the small deck.

Mediterranean Oasis

Mediterranean-style homes often feature porches, patios, and courtyards surrounded by lush plantings. To unite the landscape with the Mediterranean flavor of the house, a variety of plantings soften this transition from the house to the patio. Keeping with the style, the patio is composed of stone pavers and gravel.

Color Underfoot

Use a colorful and patterned outdoor rug to pull your patio furnishings together. The rug will liven up pavers, brick, or wood flooring; bring your color scheme down to the ground; and create a visual center for your outdoor room.

Editor's Tip: Consider a variety of options for your space's flooring. A cheaper wood can be easily covered with rugs. And lower wood costs let you spend money on other needs, such as a more expensive oil-base marine primer for longer protection and less wood maintenance. Research building materials for your own project by checking local prices, talking to professionals and homeowners in your area, and considering the elements that will batter your outdoor space.

Bring the Indoors Out

Truly connect your indoor and outdoor living spaces by extending your home's roofline to create a shady outdoor room. Here, the overstuffed outdoor furniture and chandelier further emphasize the effect. You can shape your space with borders and barriers like a fence, pavers, or planters.

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