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

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 IIdeas

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 2 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 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!

This outdoor sectional fits my small back deck perfectly
This outdoor sectional fits my small back deck perfectly

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.

Dinner party table setting on my small back deck
Dinner party table setting on my small back deck

Adding a square table makes it perfect for using as a dining space, like I did for my 4th of July party.

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

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
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

Dining chairs on a small deck work best placed on the diagonal
Dining chairs on a small deck work best placed on the diagonal

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!

Round tables work better than square ones on a small deck
Round tables work better than square ones 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.

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!

Balinese umbrella from underneath
Balinese umbrella from underneath

The view from underneath (where you’re sitting) is equally pretty.

Pretty patio umbrella and pole

Even the pole is decorated with gold to make it less of an eye sore.

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. Set Up An Outdoor Bar

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

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

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

This bench also stores cushions* which makes it the perfect multi-functional piece of furniture for a small area.

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.

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