Everything You Need to Create a Stunning Patio Design

If you live somewhere that has an outdoor space, it’s worth investing time and money into designing it and maximizing its usability. After all, a nice deck, porch, or patio can serve as a beautiful extension of your home—one that you can use year-round in warmer climates!

But if you’re starting from scratch, the process of designing a patio can feel overwhelming. And to make your patio really sing, you’re going to need a lot more than just patio chairs and a table. In fact, great patio designs should be thought of as something between a living and dining space, with thoughtful details beyond the basic furniture to make it feel really special.

The great news is, you don’t have to embark on a patio overhaul on your own. With Modsy’s Renovation Design service, you can work with a renovation design expert to plan and visualize your patio designs before bringing it to life!

But if you just want to start wrapping your head around what a patio design involves, read on. We’ve put together a guide on everything you need to create truly beautiful and functional patio designs.

The Essentials: How to Decide the Best Layout and Use for Your Patio

When preparing to design a patio or other outdoor space, it’s important to first decide on the function you’d like it to have. Would you like to primarily use your patio as an outdoor dining area? Or perhaps you want it to be more conversation-focused, with a firepit or coffee table in the middle of a seating area? Deciding how you want to use your patio will help you land on the furniture and decor that you need to make your space work for your needs.

Essential Furniture for Dining-Focused Layouts

patio design ideas

Photo by Natural Goods Berlin on Unsplash

A patio with a dining-focused layout is best for those who love to entertain and dine outdoors. To make this work, you’ll need a large table paired with sturdy chairs that can hold up to lots of use. You’ll also want to think about how durable and easy to clean your furniture is. Spills and inclement weather are inevitable; so, opt for synthetic wicker or treated wood, both of which are popular choices for outdoor dining furniture.

Essential Furniture for Conversation-Focused Layouts

patio design ideas

A patio geared toward conversation is perfect for those who like to host small gatherings and game nights. These layouts have the same idea as a conversational living room layout—but are simply designed outdoors rather than indoors! To make this happen, you’ll want to focus on conversational seating with comfy outdoor chairs and a sofa. Opt for styles that have cushions so you and your guests stay comfortable for hours on end. Make sure the cushions are washable and made in a fade-resistant and water-resistant material. It’s also helpful to have a coffee table for setting down drinks, laying out snacks, and playing cards. An outdoor pouf or ottoman is a great addition to your set-up as well, perfect as an extra seat or a footrest.

Essential Furniture for Mixed-Use Layouts

patio design ideas

Photo by Greg Rivers on Unsplash

Don’t want to choose between dining and conversation? Create a mixed-use layout, with two zones—one for lounging and conversation and another for dining. To bring this layout to life, be sure to include a table and chairs for meal-time. For extra variety, opt for lounge chairs rather than a chair and sofa set for your conversation area. Lounge chairs are great for laying out in the sun, but they can also offer a nice place to kick back, relax, and chat with friends. Just be sure to include some small side tables next to the chairs! This is a perfect layout for those who have larger outdoor spaces and can fit two separate zones on their patio.

Patio Nice-to-Haves: Water Features and Fire Features

Want to take your patio design to the next level? Include a water feature or fire feature. These can compliment the purpose and layout of your patio while also enhancing the visual design of the space. Scroll down to explore your options.


patio design ideas

Photo by @mrsmack89 / Instagram

Want your patio to be a truly zen environment? A fountain might be the perfect add-on to your space. Bubbling and flowing water has a relaxing auditory sensibility, and they also promote feng shui in your outdoor space. Fountains are also relatively low maintenance and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you have a small patio, you could even get a tabletop fountain!


Image credit: Next Luxury

Ponds are a great choice for those who want to create a meditative outdoor space. They have a relaxing sensibility and can vary quite a bit in size and shape to suit the space that you have available. But they do require more upkeep than a fountain, especially if you choose to include fish in your pond.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Pools are great for active households and for those who entertain. After all, is there anything quite as fun as a pool party in the summer? In-ground pools are a great choice for warm climates where you can maximize your use of this amazing water feature. They can add a lot of fun to outdoor gatherings, especially when kids are involved. But just know that they do require a great deal of maintenance, especially if you need to drain and cover them in the winter!

Fire Pits

Image credit: Style Blue Print

Fire pits are great for conversational seating areas on a patio, or off your patio in the backyard. There’s something really meditative about staring into a fire, and they somehow manage to help facilitate better conversation! But they’re also fun for family activities like making s’mores! Fire pits can be used year-round in warmer climates, and they’re a great way to extend patio season in colder environments. Just pair your fire pit with some blankets in cooler weather and you can still enjoy time outside! Fire pits can be large or small, built-in or freestanding, wood-burning or gas-powered. Essentially, anything you need!

If you want something more low-maintenance than a fire pit but like the idea of adding heat on cold evenings, you could instead opt for a simple outdoor heater.

The Patio Finishing Touches: Textiles, Accent Lighting, Foliage, and Garden Features

Once you have the big pieces in place, you can add extra style, personality, and ambiance to your patio with the finishing touches. Accent lighting like string lights and lanterns offer both ambiance and practicality for late-night dining and conversation. And potted plants and other foliage are a great way to add color and life to your patio!

Rugs and Pillows

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

If you want to add a little extra hominess (and personality) to your patio, don’t skimp on the textiles. Indoor-outdoor rugs are a great addition to conversational patio layouts. They’re made to withstand the elements, and they keep your feet from having to rest on cold concrete or wood. And, in addition to the cushions that come with your outdoor furniture, consider adding a few outdoor pillows to add additional color, pattern, and comfiness to your seating area. And having a basket of blankets that you can bring outside is always nice for cool evenings!


Photo by Bless’er House

Lanterns are a classic and versatile lighting choice for patios. They can be electric or candlelit, plus you can find lanterns that sit on tabletops, as well as designs that can be hung or mounted, depending on your style and needs.

String Lights

patio design ideas

Photo by Askar Abayev

String lights are a fun, casual and in-expensive way to add lighting to your patio. We especially love cafe-style bulbs for patio lighting, but any sort of string light or twinkle light will do. They’re easy to hang up, and since they’re lightweight, they can be hung with adhesive or removable hooks, making it a great lighting solution for rentals.


Photo by Beauty for Ashes

Candles are a simple and affordable way to add light and ambiance to your patio—no electricity required! They offer a soft, flickering glow, perfect for tabletop centerpieces or inside hanging lanterns! Some candles, like citronella-scented candles, can also be used to fend off mosquitos!

Potted Plants and Flowers

Photo by Athena on Pexels

Potted plants are a great way to add visual texture and diversity to your patio. You can spread them throughout your patio, with different plants in different places, depending on the amount of light they need to thrive. Sweet-smelling plants and flowers can also add an aromatherapy element to your patio; a live lavender plant near your seating area could be very calming and grounding! You could also include hanging potted plants or even add small potted plants to your outdoor dining table as a beautiful centerpiece.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

If you want something a little larger than potted plants, opt for more significant foliage. Potted trees and large tropical plants—like palms, elephant ear plants, or birds of paradise—can offer a large visual design element to your patio design, as well as as offering small amounts of shade. If you want more significant foliage and shade, you could also plant trees around the outside of your patio.

Herb Gardens

patio design ideas

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

In addition to regular potted plants, it can be really nice to have a small herb garden on your patio—offering the beauty of green vegetation, plus a functional element for home cooks! While they can certainly be planted in a larger backyard gardening bed, it’s actually more functional to have them closer to your kitchen. You’ll be much more likely to run out to your patio for a handful of basil leaves than to trek out to the outer reaches of your backyard for a small handful of herbs. Having them close-at-hand will ensure you use them more often! Plus, having them near a seating area on your patio means you can enjoy the fresh, herbaceous scents they create!

What does your dream patio look like? What layout would you choose and what else would you include to finish off the design? We’d love to hear! And if you’re ready to embark on a patio redesign, our renovation design experts are here to help!

Learn More About Renovation Design

Start Your Renovation Design


Wall Niche Ideas: Clever Ways to Use and Decorate a Recessed Wall Niche

If you live in an older home or apartment, chances are you have some unique architectural details in your space. Sometimes these details are breathtakingly beautiful (we see you, original built-ins and fireplaces!) and other times they’re more of a challenge to contend with. (We have often wondered what to do with that awkward nook under the stairs.) Sometimes even covetable architectural features like a bay window are difficult to decorate around. But these are the things that make your home unique and offer a fun way to bring some personality into your home.

But one of the random and challenging architectural details we get asked about most often? Wall niches and built-in alcoves! A common architectural “quirk,” recessed wall niches are most often found in older houses and apartments. (Though sometimes in newer homes, too, surrounding a fireplace.) They’re a feature that certainly adds character and uniqueness to your space—but they can also be quite a challenge to decorate around, especially if they’re on the smaller side.

Of course, how you decorate a wall niche totally depends on its size and shape—not to mention where it’s located within your home. Sometimes these recesses were specifically designed for holding art, TVs, or other decorative accents. Other times they’re left over from an earlier time period—when home phones got their very own built-in shelf. No matter what your wall niche was intended for, there’s definitely a way to make the most of your wall niche.

Since we’re all about working with what you’ve got, we thought it might be nice to explore some recessed wall niche ideas for designing around these built-in features. Yes, this might be a bit of a niche topic (we couldn’t help ourselves), but for those who have a wall niche in their space, we know you’ll appreciate this round-up of inspiration.

Ready to get inspired? Here are our 11 best recessed wall niche ideas.

Shop This Look

1. Design a Creative Home Bar

There’s no need for a bar cart or cabinet when you have a wall niche with shelves! To create a small home bar, incorporate bar tools, stemware, and a collection of your favorite liquors and mixers on the shelf, along with some books and decor. This is a set-up you can have up year-round, or something you can just arrange just for the occasional fête as a drink station.

modren style living room with curved furntiure

Shop This Look

2. Display a Collection

If you have a duo or trio of small wall niches, like the room pictured above, you have the perfect place to show off a small collection—whether that’s a variety of vases, a couple pairs of Stafforshire dogs, seashells from a trip, or whatever other decorative item you like to collect! Putting one to three small objects in each niche is a great way to display a collection of something without it looking overwhelming. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a collection of like objects either. A couple small wall niches can also offer a fun way to show off eye-catching individual pieces of decor!

wall niche above fireplace in modern home with bright orange walls

Shop This Look

3. Go Monochromatic

Add some drama to this architectural detail in your home by painting either just the recessed wall niche in a contrasting color, or painting the whole wall, including the niche, in an accent color. Then, take it one step further by displaying decor in the same color! This is one of our more bold, artistic wall niche ideas—and it’s also a good way to make the niche fade away a bit and be less of a focal point.

Shop This Look

4. Hang a Mirror or Art

If you have a larger wall niche that’s not really made for displaying decor, make use of the recessed wall space instead by adding a small mirror or piece of wall art in the niche. This makes the space decorative—and practical, if you opt for a mirror. Depending on the location within your room, it could also create a beautiful focal point to show off a favorite piece of art!

Shop This Look

5. Install a Multi-Use Bookcase

For a deeper wall niche, install some shelves and create a little built-in bookcase! This is a great way to maximize this design feature and make it really practical. You can keep your favorite books on the shelves for easy access, and perhaps add in some baskets for storage. And don’t forget to add a touch of greenery with a small plant on one or two of the shelves! We love how the natural wood shelves in the design above add beautiful warmth and contrast against the white walls.

wall niche above firplace in south western style home with rustic style

Shop This Look

6. Arrange Some Candles

Have a small and somewhat shallow wall niche? Add a duo or trio of candles to the shelf surface. The flickering candles will cast a pretty glow, subtly highlighting the niche. Since wall niches are usually chest height or higher, this is also a great way to enjoy candles while keeping them out of reach of pets and kids! And if your niche is more enclosed and you don’t want to worry about the smoke making marks on the wall, you could always go for flameless, battery-operated candles with the same effect!

Shop This Look

7. Display Flowers

A small or medium recessed wall niche can also be a great place to display flowers! This is one of our more simple wall niche ideas—but it’s also beautifully impactful. Simply arrange a vase of flowers—faux or real—then use your wall niche almost as a pedestal to highlight and display your arrangement! Like candles, this is a great way to keep delicate flowers out of reach of pets and kids, while also letting the architectural detailing act as a focal point to highlight them!

built-in wall niche in light and bright modern living room with book shelf

Shop This Look

8. Create a Display Cabinet

If you’re looking for wall niche ideas for one that has some built-in shelves, consider creating a “cabinet of curiosities” by displaying a collection of your favorite art and decor. You can lean framed wall art in a niche, then layer in some decorative objects and plants as a way to highlight some of your favorite pieces, all in one place.

Wall niche in contemporary style living room

Shop This Look

9. Highlight a Sculpture

Let your inner art curator shine by adding a sculpture to your wall niche. Depending on the size of your wall niche and your favorite pieces of decor, this can be the perfect place to highlight a sculptural art piece or collectible. Being displayed on a built-in shelf like this gives your sculptural decor a gallery or museum feel, creating a simple and artful focal point.

three small wall niches above a fireplace

10. Show Off Your Collection of Plants

Adding plants to a wall niche (or a trio of wall niches, like the room pictured above), is a great way to show off your plant collection! The arches of the wall niche draw your eye to the plants, while the green pops against neutral paint. Just make sure they get enough light in the recess of the wall! (Of course, you can always swap them out for faux greenery if you don’t want to worry about lighting and watering!)

Wall niche in moody dark gray living room with traditional style

Shop This Look

11. Use it for Storage

If you have a large wall niche, where the recess starts at floor-level, you have a great place to place a piece of storage furniture. Add a bookcase, glass-door cabinet, or floating shelves to add practical storage to your space. A full wall niche like this can house bigger furniture and even wall decor without taking up a ton of space in the main part of your room.

Need help designing around a unique architectural detail?

Start Your Project


Design Refresh: 4 Simple Ways to Brighten Up Your Space

Sometimes all you need to refresh a space are a few simple updates to make it feel like new.

We polled our Modsy designers to get their ideas on the best and easiest ways to refresh a space. Here are their top 4 tips on how to brighten up any space.

1. Create an accent wall.

We think a fresh coat of paint can work some real magic on a room, or if you’re feeling especially daring, go ahead and add a splash with some graphic or colorful wallpaper!

2. Mix up your lighting.

Mix and match a few table lamps and wall sconces in your space. Playing with different light sources is a great way to add warmth and a dynamic element to a room, and it will give you more control over the overall lighting.

3. Add a few house plants.

They not only brighten rooms, but add a lively bit of color and character. This is a great option for people who don’t love a lot of color in their home but still want a pop of brightness!

4. Change up your pillows.

You can do this seasonally as the weather shifts, or simply as your tastes change. Pillows add accents of color and depth to a space and are much easier (and more budget-friendly!) to swap out than an entire sofa or bed frame.

Still not quite sure how to visualize what your space could look like? Purchase a Modsy Design Package today to find out!


5 Tips for Designing Your Living Room


We polled our Modsy Designers to get the inside scoop on their top five tips to make designing your living room a breeze.

1. Hone in on the primary use of the room

Will you use the space to hunker down and watch tv, host formal gatherings, or as a cozy spot to spend time with your family? Deciding how you want to use the room will help make deciding on the best layout and type of furniture much easier.


2. Arrange your furniture for conversation

The living room is often an important gathering point in the house. Arrange your furniture in a way that encourages interaction and conversation. Don’t be afraid to pull your chairs or sofa away from the wall.


3. Get smart with color

Color is one of the more powerful design tools at your disposal. If you want to make a statement, pick one bold move, like an accent wall or statement sofa, and keep the rest of your space more neutral. If you’re a little nervous about color, consider limiting bold hues to your accessories like pillows and art, which can be replaced more easily.


4. Play with textures

Whether you love a bold color or are more into neutrals, working with a variety of textures is a great way to add depth and sophistication to your space. Combine pieces like a chunky rug, a sheepskin throw, a velvet couch, and a leather chair for a look that’s layered and eye-catching.


5. Vary the scale

Don’t buy pieces that all have the same weight and height. If you have a large sofa, opt for an open base coffee table for balance. Try pairing lamps or side tables of different heights and styles for a more unique and less “matchy-matchy” feel.


Need help bringing your living room vision to life?


Follow the Modsy blog with Bloglovin