Small patio ideas: 13 easy ways to pep up a paved living space in your garden

Short on space? No problem – these small patio ideas are full of inspiration for pavers, furniture, accessories, and styling

designbotschaft GmbH grey corner sofa on small patio ideas
(Image credit: designbotschaft GmbH)

If your garden is on the less-than-large side, then these small patio ideas are for you. As you'll soon see, you don't need a huge stretch of stone to make an impressive impact for outdoor-living. With the right styling and furniture, even a tiny courtyard can become a cozy and welcoming nook. In fact, when done well, it can even feel more stylish and put-together than a bigger space.

All kinds of patio ideas can be downsized quite easily. But there are also plenty of tricks that will optimize your zone further and make it feel larger. We've rounded up some of the best small patio ideas to get you inspired – from colorful walls, clever furniture choices, ways to grow your favorite plants, and more.

Small patio ideas: 13 stylish looks

Ready to transform your small paved space? With these tips, it's easy to get it summer-ready.

1. Adorn your fence with a living wall

outdoor dining table with living wall

If you've used up all your patio space with a dining set, then make the most of the surrounding fences for your plants

(Image credit: Jake Curtis/Future)

If you're a fan of dining alfresco, then your patio will be of utmost importance as it provides a stable base for your table and chairs. However, making sure there's enough greenery alongside your furniture can prove tricky if you don't have much room for pots and planters. 

The solution is to think vertically. With the help of a living wall, you can introduce all the foliage you need without taking up precious floor space. If your patio is surrounded by tall fences, it's a great way to soften the look and make them feel less imposing, too.

You can also weave your patio lighting ideas into a scene like this – another way to save on space. Here, subtle down-lighters are positioned above the greenery for a striking effect once night falls.

2. Pick a statement piece of furniture

Outdoor furniture from OKA UK with rug

(Image credit: OKA UK)

When picking furniture for your outdoor dining ideas, why not choose designs that will make an impact? After all, for smaller spaces there isn't a huge amount of room for much else, so it makes sense for your table or chairs to be the stars of the show. 

Embrace bold designs to give the zone tons of character – whether that be with unique shapes (we love this sculptural table above), or show-stopping colors. Round tables are also useful for maximizing space, as you can fit more chairs around them. If you opt for stackable designs or stools, even better.

Once you've got your furniture in, you can add the final flourishes with well-chosen accessories. One of the best outdoor rugs will provide a cozy feeling underfoot, whilst a vase of freshly-cut blooms is always a pretty addition.

3. Brighten up your small patio ideas with a parasol

wolfie colorful parasol from East London Parasol Company on patio

(Image credit: East London Parasol Company)

In the height of summer, one of the best garden parasols is a must for any paved space. They're much more versatile than larger, more-permanent structures such as pergolas. And, if you opt for a design which slots into a table or can be positioned from the side, then they take up barely any floor space at all. They also tend to be cheaper, so are ideal if you're after budget patio ideas.

There are lots of patterned designs available, so as well as providing shade and shelter, parasols are a great way to inject a bit more personality into your patio. This opulent design instantly elevates this simple seating spot, for example. 

If you prefer something more pared-down, then neutral colors will give a more refined look.

4. Paint the walls in a vibrant hue

red painted walls by Sandtex on patio

Turn heads with a painted wall – this is 'Hot Brick' by Sandtex

(Image credit: Sandtex)

Another way to boost the wow-factor of a small space is to paint the walls in a vibrant color. This bold red may be daring, but, when paired with lots of crisp-white accessories, the overall look feels well-balanced and welcoming. 

Patterns and potted plants add to the Moroccan-inspired edge – giving the space a holiday-feel even if the skies above are grey.

Of course, if red isn't your vibe, then you could try soft blues, rosy pinks or even ochre yellow for a stunning alternative. Or, if you're after more garden wall ideas, our dedicated feature will come in handy.

5. Slot in a corner sofa

designbotschaft GmbH grey corner sofa on raised patio

A sophisticated set-up in tones of grey from designbotschaft

(Image credit: designbotschaft GmbH)

Corner sofas are a wonderful choice if you love to entertain guests or have a large family, and you don't always need a huge space to accommodate them.

Providing you have the right measurements, they can slot straight into a smaller patio space, leaving plenty of room in the middle for a coffee table. Modular designs are useful for extra versatility. Designs like the one above are also ideal as they offer smaller table-spaces at the sides – perfect for popping a cuppa on.

Match your sofa to your patio paving ideas for an understated yet chic look – tones of grey will always feel on-trend. And to keep the space looking its best, remember to keep on top of maintenance. Our guide on how to clean a patio has everything you need to know.

6. Introduce a relaxing water feature

The Urban Pollinator designed by Caitlin McLaughlin for RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival 2019

The Urban Pollinator garden, designed by Caitlin McLaughlin for the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival 2019

(Image credit: Tim Sandall/RHS)

Fancy adding some water to your patio? Garden pond ideas might seem a little on the large side, so how about something like this instead? It's a unique way to border the seating space and define it from the surroundings, and is great for visiting wildlife. 

The mix of pebbles and sparkling water makes a gorgeous contrast to sleek paving. What's more, you can get creative with lots of water-loving plants for an extra pop of color – irises are one of our favorites for their ruffled blooms.

If you're looking for a quicker fix, then there are plenty of small-space water feature ideas that will work well. Our guide has lots of inspiring styles.

7. Shelter the space with a shade sail

shade sail over patio sofa

Keep your small patio ideas cool with a shade sail

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Shade sails are another type of patio cover idea that are small-space friendly. Suspended from walls, trees, or fences, they're so simple to install and offer a spot of shade with a breezy, beachy feel.

A cream-colored one is a classic choice and will instantly give a sense of laid-back luxury to a scene, especially when positioned over a comfy outdoor sofa. Just like awning ideas (another good option for small patios), they also help to shield windows from the sun's glare too. This is particularly useful if you're working or looking at screens indoors.

8. Opt for hanging baskets to save on floor space

lechuza balconera cottage planters

The Balconera Cottage planters from Lechuza are ideal for adding a splash of greenery to your space

(Image credit: Lechuza)

If you have a fence or railing around your small patio ideas, then try using it to introduce more flowers and foliage to the zone.

Clever planters like these are ideal for patio gardening ideas as will attach securely to vertical features. We love how, in this scene, they've been chosen to complement the surrounding color palette and textures.

Containers provide tons of opportunity to get creative with your planting. Whether you want to fill them with seasonal blooms, scented beauties, or even try growing vegetables in pots – the possibilities are almost endless. Our hanging basket ideas feature has even more lovely looks.

9. Keep cozy with a slimline chiminea

Morsø Kamino Chimnea from Beaumonde

Warm up the space with the Morsø Kamino Chimnea from Beaumonde 

(Image credit: Beaumonde)

Outdoor heating ideas are ideal for keeping your patio toasty when the temperatures drop. And, with designs like these, there's no reason why you can't enjoy their glow in a smaller space. 

Its slimline style is just right for small patio ideas whilst bringing a contemporary edge to the set-up. Ensure there's somewhere to sit nearby to make the most of the flickering flames – this built-in bench is low-maintenance and looks great when cozied up with plenty of cushions.

Looking for more inspo? Our feature on fire pit patio ideas has plenty.

10. Try a floating style

raised modern patio with Bridgman furniture

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Even a tiny slice of paving can make a statement if it's risen off the ground. And, if it appears to be floating – well, that's a whole other level of chic.

It might not be the way forward if you're learning how to lay a patio yourself, but when properly installed, a look like this is all you need for a striking impact. A bed of pebbles beneath adds a pleasing sense of texture and is a much better alternative to lawn, which will struggle to grow in the shade. 

Place a neat table and chairs up top (not too close to the edge), and you've got the perfect spot for a morning coffee or a chilled evening drink.

11. Opt for foldaway furniture

blue bistro set on patio ideas from Garden Trading

A vision in blue – this bistro set is from Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Small patio ideas often call for maximum versatility; sometimes you might want to use the space for entertaining whilst other times it needs to accommodate your exercise routine, or provide a place for the kids to play. That's where foldable furniture comes in, and you can't go far wrong with one of the best bistro sets.

Light and easy to move, they can be ready to seat guests at a moment's notice. But, when not in use, bistro sets can be stacked neatly to one side. Don't forget to choose the colors to your advantage – a bright blue tone creates an instant impact, whereas a pastel style may be more suited to your theme.

12. Increase the sense of space with a mirror

mirror on wall from John Lewis

We adore this elegant mirror from John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Garden mirror ideas are always a stylish feature for plots great or small. But, they are especially effective if you're looking to create an illusion of space. Not only will they provide a simple solution to pep up a blank wall, but they double up the view, and the light – meaning your small stretch of paving will instantly feel double the size.

There are loads of styles to choose from, from ornate, gothic looks and antique-effect designs to streamlined, modern versions. We adore this elegant white option with its multiple panes – it's a beautiful finishing touch to small patio ideas.

13. Go for practicality with a bistro tray table

Noa & Nani table near bench

This Outdoor Bistro Garden Tray Table in Dark Blue from Nöa & Nani is a perfect feature for small patio ideas

(Image credit: Nöa & Nani)

For narrow patio spaces, one of the best garden benches can be just right. However, sometimes it's nice to be able to have a solid surface (which isn't the floor) to rest your cup of tea, book, or bowl of snacks.

A small table like this is absolutely perfect, as can be assembled in a matter of seconds as and when needed. The detachable top can be used as a useful tray, too, plus it's super-affordable.

How do you make a small patio look nice?

rattan sofa with cushions and rug on patio from OKA UK

This Aventine Sofa from OKA UK is petite in size but comfortable for two

(Image credit: OKA UK)

If you're looking for more small patio ideas to make your space look nice, these extra tips from the experts will help:

  1. If you've got room for garden planter ideas, embrace the opportunity to bring in plenty of dramatic planting and containers to match, as suggests Juliette Thomas, Founder and Director of Juliettes Interiors. 'Large sculptural ferns, palms, and euphorbia, as well as flowering plants such as geraniums, will provide a Mediterranean feel. Or, opt for campanula and alliums for a more contemporary look. Make the pots part of the overall theme too, whether that is rustic terracotta or modern glamour,' Juliette adds.
  2. A small outdoor table is a must-have for a patio. As Alex and Kris, Founders and Directors of Nöa & Nani suggest, 'It can be used to serve drinks when socializing, or to create more of a decorative feature for pots, plants and other garden accessories. Play with layers to create depth and look to use items of different sizes in complementing colors for the perfect, cohesive outdoor scheme.'
  3. The team at Bradstone also has some suggestions: 'If dining alfresco, take cuttings from your garden and arrange in a vase to create bright and cheerful centerpieces for the dinner table.' The best decorations are those found in nature, they add, so also try sprucing up your small patio with some strategically-placed flowerpots and colorful hanging baskets.
  4. Gardenesque also recommends bringing night-scented flowers to your outdoor space to elevate the evening ambience. Choose the likes of nicotiana, phlox, and dianthus for containers, and place them near your seating or nearby windows and doors to make the most of the fragrance. They also suggest climbing plants such as honeysuckle and jasmine, which can be wound around a small pergola or trained up trellis ideas for gardens. Pair with a string of solar lights for an even more enchanting look.
Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!