Small Patio Decorating Ideas That Will Turn Your Deck Into An Outdoor Oasis

Last Updated: February 13, 2024

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Just because you have a tiny deck doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy outdoor living. Use these space-saving tips and small patio decorating ideas to create an outdoor oasis out of whatever space you have.

Small Patio Decorating Ideas

If you are like me, the best part of summer is relaxing on an outdoor patio with a couple of friends and a cool refreshing drink and feeling like you don’t have a care in the world.

No matter where I have lived, even in apartments, I have always wanted to have at least a little bit of outdoor space where I could go to unwind when the weather is nice.

Since I’m a city girl, however, most of the places I have lived haven’t had a lot of room for large decks or patios. And I always felt like those small and crowded outdoor spaces cramped my outdoor living style.

So when I moved into my current house (which was brand new and didn’t have anything in the back yard), I decided to build a deck and patio that would be big enough to handle all of my entertaining needs. And it does.

But you know what else I found? A really large open area feels really big and empty when you don’t have a lot of people around (which is most of the time!) I came to the realization that smaller patios and decks are more cozy and inviting.

And so, inside of my big outdoor living area, I now have many small spaces that require the same kind of small patio decorating ideas that my old city ones did.

I thought I would share some of my space-saving tips and small patio ideas that help make the most of the space you have.

1 | Place Seating Along Two Sides

Place seating along 2 sides of a small patio or deck
Place seating along 2 sides of a small patio or deck

First up on my list of small patio decorating ideas is to carefully choose how you place the seating.

Whether you build in benches or buy a sectional outdoor sofa, arranging the seating around the edges of the patio (or deck) will give you more usable space.

An outdoor sectional makes great use of space on a small deck
An outdoor sectional makes great use of space on a small deck

I know this totally goes against one my decorating rules of pulling furniture away from the walls…but sometimes you have to break the rules!

For the small deck at the back of my yard, I was lucky enough to find an outdoor sectional sofa that fit into the two sides perfectly.

Adding a square table makes it perfect for using as a dining space, too.

2 | Lay Down An Outdoor Rug

An outdoor rug defines space on a small patio or deck
An outdoor rug defines space on a small patio or deck

Another of my small patio decorating ideas is to use outdoor area rugs. They’re meant to take the weather and usually aren’t that expensive.

The outdoor rug* under the table on my back deck really helps to define the space and makes it feel like a real outdoor room.

Adding a solar-powered lighted umbrella* even makes this deck useful after dark.

Outdoor rugs ground a seating area on a patio
Outdoor rugs ground a seating area on a patio

I added another similar outdoor rug* on my patio, too (which is a larger space) and the rug definitely pulls the whole look together.

Of course, if you love color like I do, you can always go bold with a colorful outdoor rug like this one* from my recent deck makeover project.

3 | Create An Outdoor Living Room

Outdoor living room on a small deck
Outdoor living room on a small deck

The main problem with small patios and decks is that there is no room to spare.

Seating that has to be pulled out (like dining chairs) requires extra space that you may not have.

A small outdoor sofa works well on a small patio

That’s why my third outdoor decorating idea is to substitute a sofa and a couple of arm chairs for a standard outdoor dining table and chairs.

And they are so comfortable, you may never want to come inside…especially this glider sofa 🙂

4 | Put Chairs On The Diagonal

Outdoor table and chairs placed on the diagonal in a gazebo

Having said that, if you do want to have a dining table and chairs on your small deck, there is a way to maximize the space.

When I had my dining table in the gazebo, I was always afraid that people were going to push their chair out and fall off the edge. Then I turned the chairs on the diagonal…problem solved!

A round patio table on a small deck

It also helps to have a round table…no sharp corners to bump into.

And on most small patios, a 48″ table is a bit too big to fit comfortably. Try to find one that is a maximum of 42″ wide for the most placement flexibility.

5 | Get Dual Purpose Tables

Get dual purpose furniture for small patios

Bistro Set with Ice Bucket*

Just like when you’re decorating a small room, using multi-purpose furniture makes the best use of your small deck or patio.

I love the idea of having a cooler that is so close by and doesn’t take up any extra floor space like these tables with ice coolers built in. I haven’t incorporated this into my outdoor entertaining space yet, but it’s on my to-do list!

Wicker Ice Cooler Table*

Look for ones that have a cover for the opening so that you can also use the whole top as a table.

6 | Combine a Side Table With An Umbrella Stand

Combine a side table with an umbrella stand to save space on a small patio
Combine a side table with an umbrella stand to save space on a small patio

Number 6 on my outdoor decorating ideas list is another type of dual-purpose furniture that works well for small patios.

If you need some protection from the sun, a side table that also acts as an umbrella stand may be just the thing!

Umbrella Table*

Or if you already have an umbrella stand, this table that goes around the umbrella pole* is a perfect way to make it more functional.

Make sure that whatever table you get is heavy enough to hold up your umbrella if a gust of wind comes along.  Otherwise you may end up with a drink in your lap when the table tips over 🙂

7 | Put Up a Pretty Umbrella

A really pretty umbrella makes a focal point for a small deck
A really pretty umbrella makes a focal point for a small deck

Another of my small patio decorating ideas is to add a focal point that takes your attention off the size of the space.

If you really want to make a focal point out of your seating arrangement, try adding a really pretty umbrella like this one (no longer available).

Balinese umbrella top
Balinese umbrella top

I have to confess that it is definitely the most expensive umbrella I have ever bought, but I think it was worth the splurge!

It even has a pole that is painted which helps to make it look better.

Patio umbrella with fringe over an outdoor sofa and chair

If you don’t want to spend that much money, you can always add your own embellishments to a standard umbrella, like the fringe I glued onto this one.

You can find the tutorial for making your own DIY Fringe Umbrella HERE.

8 | Add a Tall Side Table

Taller side tables can double as a dining table on a small patio
Taller side tables can double as a dining table on a small patio

Instead of putting a standard height side table between chairs on your small deck or patio, try using a taller table instead.

That way it can be pulled out to be used as a dining table when necessary.

Side table and chairs on a small patio

And pushed back out of the way when all you need is a table to put your drinks on.

9 | Surround The Patio With Plants

Surround a small patio with plants to make it feel intentionally romantic
Surround a small patio with plants to make it feel intentionally romantic

Surrounding a small patio or deck with plants makes the space feel very intimate and romantic…like you are hidden away in your own secret garden.

Planting a flower bed around the edges of a small deck makes it seem larger
Planting a flower bed around the edges of a small deck makes it seem larger

If you have a patio or very low deck, you can plan a garden bed that provides the plant backdrop and blurs the edges of the deck (like my mother’s deck shown here).

Another easy way to do this is to build planters around the edge of the deck. Not only are the plants easy to tend to and water, but it also acts as a barrier that prevents anyone from falling off the edge.

Building a screen around the deck can make it feel like a secret garden.
Building a screen around the deck can make it feel like a secret garden.

Putting up a screen around part of the deck can also be very effective for creating that sense of privacy.  This works well even if you live on a city lot where your neighbors aren’t very far away.

10 | Hang Outdoor Curtains

If you don’t have the room for lots of plants, you can also create the cozy secret garden feel by hanging outdoor curtains.

They help to define the space and provide some privacy from the neighbors.

These ones were an easy and inexpensive DIY project (you can find our DIY outdoor curtain tutorial HERE).

11 | Set Up An Outdoor Bar

Building an outdoor bar on a small patio provides a good place to entertain

An outdoor bar is a great way to provide seating that doesn’t take up much room on a small patio. And it’s also a great place to entertain.

installed deck tiles around mine…it is a really fast and easy way to make a patio if you don’t have one already.

I also recently gave the bar a big makeover as part of my outdoor entertaining area update (you can see all the makeover details HERE if you’re interested).

Bar stools don't take up a lot of room on a small patio

When I have outdoor parties, this outdoor bar and grill area is the first place that everyone heads to. The tall bar stools* are everyone’s favorite seats, and they don’t take up a lot of room.

Installing a mini fridge and the grill behind the bar works perfectly since I have space to cook while still being a part of the action.

12 | Add a Space-Saving Bench

Benches provide more seating and take up less room than chairs
Benches provide more seating and take up less room than chairs

Benches provide a lot of seating in a small amount of space which makes them one of my favorite space saving small patio decorating ideas.  This bench also stores cushions* which makes it the perfect multi-functional piece of furniture for a small area.

Because of their narrow width you can fit them in on the edge of a pathway.

An outdoor turquoise bench in front of a fence

Or in the corner beside the grill.

13 | Use Garden Stools As Tables

Trying to find outdoor tables that look pretty and fit in a small space can be challenging. Which is why I like to use ceramic garden stools outdoors.

They are the perfect size to put down a drink or a book and they don’t take up much space. Plus, they look just as good sitting in front of a bench as the do beside it, so you have lots of furniture arranging versatility.

14 | Install A Vertical Herb Garden

If you’re like me and love to grow fresh herbs but don’t have much space to put them, building a vertical herb garden is the way to go.

This one is made out of a pallet and some inexpensive window boxes so it was really easy to make and didn’t cost very much to build.

You can find the DIY vertical herb garden tutorial HERE.

15 | Hang A Garden Mirror

Just like when you’re decorating a small room, hanging an outdoor mirror* above a console table* helps to open up a small space.

I think mirrors work even better outdoors, because they’re usually reflecting the sky and some greenery which really expands the view.

16 | Paint Your Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor patio chairs before and after being painted white

If you already own some patio furniture but it’s seen better days (or you just don’t like it that much), try spray painting it.

It’s amazing what a different a new color can make.

My outdoor table and chairs look like a brand new set now that I’ve painted them white.

Read the tutorial for spray painting outdoor furniture HERE.

17 | Expand Your Patio

black and white deck tiles

If you want to expand your patio without taking on a large scale renovation, these deck tiles are a great solution.

They can be installed directly over a concrete slab or any other level surface.

And they just click together. It only took me a few hours to put this whole patio together.

Find out all the details on these deck tiles and how to install them HERE.

Well, that’s my tour of the garden rooms in my yard. Hopefully you can use some of these small patio decorating ideas to make the most of the space you have, too.

Other Deck and Patio Ideas You Might Like

Do you have comments or questions about our small patio decorating ideas? Tell us in the section below.

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Small Patio Decorating Ideas

This post was originally published on July 14, 2017 but was updated with new content on February 13, 2024.

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  1. Mickey Wood says:

    Your garden room ideas are wonderful. Is it possible to do a panoranic vedeo to show how each space flows to the next?

    1. Hi Mickey…that’s a great idea! I’ll see what I can do to put one together 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for all the great tips I am excited to get started on mine any suggestions for the budgeter on wow to incorporate money saving tips for decor ?

  3. Do you know where I can find the lattice panels with the opening for hanging plants? That is such a great idea!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Cheryl…we actually made those. If you want to try it, start by cutting out the holes in the lattice (we used a jig saw). Then screw thin boards on both sides of the lattice around the edges of the opening to strengthen it (you can re-use the boards from the lattice that you cut out). Finally, put a hook into one of the boards on the top of the opening and hang your plants. Hope that helps!

  4. Georgia Neame says:

    We live in a zero lot line home with the width to the next house only 11 feet. The length of the property is a normal size but we have problems devising sitting areas for more than two people. Would love ideas for making this a relaxing oasis. Property is in Dallas, Tx

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Georgia…I would plant curved flower beds alternating on opposite sides of your yard so that you don’t have a straight view to the end (which gives it that “secret garden” feel). Put up a pergola towards the back of the yard to provide a destination along with two or three trellises along the sides where you can grow vines to soften the edges of your yard. Then make use of benches and L-shaped sectional sofas for seating…they will allow you to fit more seats into a smaller space.

  5. Georgia Neame says:

    Wanda, I have the curved gardens all the way from the patio to the end. L shaped seating isn’t possible because it would block entry to that path. I also have trellises down the neighbors side growing honeysuckle. The only thing we haven’t done is a pergola. Is there a way to post a picture?

  6. Robert Lynn says:

    Before reading this blog, I never think that a small place can be a beautiful patio. The ideas you share all are unique and elegant. Thanks to ” From House to Home” for sharing the beautiful ideas with us!

  7. Pam Ozburn says:

    I would like to know where the flamingo rug came from?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Pam…I bought it from You can find it HERE.

  8. Where did you get the elephant side table holding the umbrella? I love that!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Anne…That elephant table is my favorite, too 🙂 I bought it at Pier 1 a couple of years ago, so unfortunately it’s not available any more.

  9. Where did you find hot pink cushions. I haven’t been able to find them .

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Marykay…My mother actually made those for me. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any available for purchase either.

  10. Where did you get the chairs that are paired with the elephant umbrella stand?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Jennie…I bought them at Home Depot a few years ago, and I don’t think they are still available. They are made by Thomasville, so you might be able to find something similar if you search on the brand name.

  11. Kim Fischer says:

    Can you tell me where your outdoor sectional came from? It’s beautiful.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Kim…I ordered it from Home Depot online a few years ago. I don’t think they have that exact version anymore but this one is close. Although it has white cushions so I don’t know how long they will stay clean outside. They do have a bunch of other options if you look at all of their outdoor sectionals.

  12. Kaycee Heisinger says:

    Thank you for the great ideas! Where did you get the hanging plant chandelier? I love it!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Kaycee…I bought it from HomeGoods a few years ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it since, so I’m not sure if it’s still available.