Small patios are common in city apartments, condos, and many homes. But just because a patio is small doesn’t mean that it can’t have a big style. Even if your patio is less than 10 square feet, you can create a beautiful design for it that’s an extension of the rest of your home. It’s all about how you execute the design elements.

To make the most of a small patio design, it’s helpful to think through how you want to use the space. Are you looking for an outdoor dining space, lounge, or conversation area? Maybe you want a little bit of everything! With some strategic planning, you can transform your small patio into an outdoor paradise.

To help you figure out the best design approach for your small patio we’re breaking down the different uses and layouts you can consider, along with how to make each design work. The result? Creating a relaxing retreat that serves as a beautiful and functional extension of your home. (Bonus: you can also use these layouts to create small patio ideas on a budget since not much is required to bring these small spaces to life!)

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The Dining Layout

Patio with fireplace and coastal style dining area

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The right table and chairs are key if you want to transform a small patio into an outdoor dining area. Similar to a small dining room design, if you have a super small patio, consider a round, two-person bistro table, since round tables are easier to navigate around in a small space. This is perfect for enjoying coffee and breakfast outside! But for small to medium-sized patios, you could get away with a square or rectangular table that sits 4-6 people. For small patio designs, you’ll also want dining chairs that have a sleeker profile. For small patios, we love cafe-style chairs, like the ones pictured above. They’re stylish and durable but they have a smaller footprint than many other patio chair styles.

A great addition to an outdoor dining area is an herb garden. It complements the dining theme, and it’s always nice to have fresh herbs on hand to use as a garnish for summer meals.

This is a great layout choice for…

Those who love to entertain and dine al fresco.

The Conversational Layout

Patio with outdoor living room area

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For small patio designs with a conversational seating area, opt for a comfy sofa or chairs. If you have the space, a small outdoor sofa, paired with an outdoor accent chair, will help you maximize seating when hosting guests. But, at the very least, prioritize a pair of chairs for a one-on-one conversation zone. An easy way to add seating options to a small conversational area is to include a pouf (which can double as an extra seat or a footrest) or to choose a coffee table that can double as an extra seat when needed.

This is a great layout choice for…

Those who love to host small, low-key gatherings with a couple of friends.

The Mixed-Use Layout

Mix-use patio with dining and conversation area

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If you have the space, you could create a mixed-use layout that includes both a conversation area or reading nook and dining space. Keep the dining space small, with a bistro table that seats 2-3 people. Then, add a pair of outdoor accent chairs on the other end of the patio for lounging and conversation. With a mixed-use layout, opt for lighter-weight furniture that’s easy to move around, as you may need to adjust your layout on occasion to accommodate the needs of a specific gathering. In this case, lightweight materials like aluminum and rattan are great choices.

This is a great layout choice for…

Those who want the option for both lounging and dining in comfort in their outdoor space.

Other Considerations

Once you land on your desired layout and find the right furniture for your needs, you’ll want to add some finishing touches to help your small patio go from functional to fully designed. And what exactly is required to take the design to the next level? Lighting, textiles, and plants.

Lighting

No matter the size of your patio, accent lighting can help create a cozy and inviting ambiance. We love the idea of cafe string lights, which add a cozy vibe while also taking up zero floor space since you can hang them up above your seating or dining area. Another great option is tiki lanterns, which can be set up in all four corners of your patio, creating a boho patio vibe. Tabletop candles and lanterns can also drive home a cozy and inviting vibe.

Textiles

A great way to make small patios feel like a natural extension of the rest of your home is with outdoor textiles. Indoor-outdoor rugs can be used to create some visual layers in your patio design, and outdoor pillows in weather-resistant fabrics make a seating area so much more comfortable. Plus, both can add color, pattern, and texture to your space, which makes it feel so much more consideration from a design perspective.

Plants

Is a patio a complete outdoor space without plants? We think not. A couple of potted plants in varying sizes will help your small patio feel more designed and inviting. Potted plants just make every patio design better by adding color and texture to your space! If you live in a climate where it’s warm year-round, you could have dedicated outdoor plants. Otherwise, you could bring your plants outdoors in the warmer months and move them back inside as the weather gets cooler.

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