Many of us aren’t able to change the sizes and layouts of our patios or decks. We’re left to choose furniture and its arrangement, decide what to plant, and select other outdoor elements to make the space our own. Make tiny terraces feel larger and expansive decks more inviting with these tricks for styling your outdoor lounge.
Approximate size: 48 square feet (4.5 square meters) or smaller
Great for: Hanging out on your own or with one or two other people
If you’re starting with a deck, patio or balcony with a small footprint, most design challenges center on how to maximize the space. Steal a design trick from this contemporary terrace in London and stick to a light and bright color palette to visually open the space and make it feel larger than it actually is.
Another strategy for narrow spaces is to use furniture, screens or medium-size plants to divide the space. For example, placing a bench seat running across the shorter side of a patio can help the space feel wider and less like a corridor.
Approximate size: 120 square feet (11 square meters)
Great for: Kicking back with a small group
Combinations of furniture, such as a built-in bench paired with outdoor chairs or a sofa, often work well to allow flexibility, expand seating and open up more room for planting on medium-size patios or decks.
For example, this San Francisco backyard uses an L-shaped bench seat to define a lounge area around an outdoor table. The space feels cozy and inviting for four or five people to share a conversation.
Approximate size: 168 square feet (15.6 square meters) or larger
Great for: Hosting a backyard party for six or more
One of the challenges of choosing the furniture layout and planting design for a large patio is making an expansive space feel more human-scale. For example, arranging large-scale outdoor seating in U-shaped or semicircular layouts, around a coffee table or fire pit, can make the space feel like a cozy, more inviting gathering place.
Other ways to lower the ceiling of your outdoor room: Build a pergola, plant trees to provide a leafy canopy or hang crisscrossing string lights overhead.