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how to make the most of a small patio

This summer is looking very different from how many of us imagined it. Thanks to this pandemic and a ban on international travel, 2020 is the year of the staycation! We normally spend the majority of our summers down at our cabin in Washington, but sadly we are unable to do that this year. Now more than ever, it is important to make the most of every square inch of our homes, and I am so grateful to be able to extend our living space to the backyard now that the weather is nice!

Summer has been slow to arrive on the West Coast but we are finally starting to see some sunshine and warm temperatures. Our backyard is a modest size, and we have a concrete patio off of our Family Room with a glass overhang. It's not the biggest space, but I think we have really made the most of it, and today I thought I would share some tips on how I have decorated this area of our home so we can get the most use out of it during the warmer months.

Create Zones

The most important thing to take into consideration when decorating a small patio is to think about how you want to use the space. We use ours for both lounging and dining so I have organized our patio into two zones. We have a small little outdoor living room on one side and a dining area on the other.

Think about functionality

Obviously I strive to make things pretty when I am designing a space, but functionality is just as important to me. For example, I recently decided to swap the living and dining areas on our patio to make a better use of the space. We have a glass overhang that covers about half of our patio space. When I originally decorated our backyard after we rennovated it 2 years ago (which you can read about here) I had the dining table under the covered portion and the lounge area on the other side.

We have had a really wet summer so far and I was tired of the rug and cushions getting wet all the time. We tend to use the lounging portion of the patio more than the dining room portion so it made sense to move it under cover.

Now even when it is raining, we can cozy up on the comfy lounge chairs and loveseat and still be able to enjoy the outdoors.

The dining table and bench are now on the uncovered end of the patio and when it rains, I don't need to worry about soggy cushions or my outdoor rug getting soaked.

Now I am happy with the way my patio looks AND functions!

Make it an extension of the inside

Everyone is spending so much more time at home these days between quarantine, sheltering in place and travel bans. We are at home A LOT so I say make the best of it and extend your living space outside as much as possible. I approach decorating my outdoor spaces in the same way I do for the indoors. Invest in some basic pieces that work for your lifestyle and then add some accessories for some style and personality.

In our outdoor dining area we have a table and two benches which provides more than enough space for our family of 5.

Because our patio is on the small side, I went with a love seat and chair combo a few years ago and I love it. It's so comfortable and cozy, this is the best spot to hang out during the warmer months.

Once you have the basics in place, you can make your patio feel like an extension of the inside by adding some decorative elements. Here are some easy and budget friendly things you can add to your outdoor living space:

Outdoor Rug

I love having an outdoor rug to define the sitting area. Our patio is concrete, so the rug helps to make it look and feel more cozy underfoot. As with indoor rugs, get the biggest size that you can afford but ideally at least the front feet of the chairs and sofa will be in the rug.

Throw Pillows

I love using solid neutral fabrics for my sofas and chairs (inside and out) and then adding color and pattern with throw pillows. There are so many options available and you can find something to suit any budget.

Not only do throw pillows add interest and style to your space, but they make your seating more comfortable.


I like to have some potted plants on my patio to add color and life. I am not the best with plants so I tend to stick with low maintenance succulents.

I even temporarily moved our succulent wall planter from my indoor dining room to my outdoor one. I like the visual interest it adds to the space!


One last decorative suggestion...a pretty citronella candle like this one I got from the dollar store. Candles add such a nice ambiance to any space, and having a citronella scent to ward off bugs is an added bonus.


With just some basic furnishings and some decorative elements to take it to the next level, you can easily create a cozy outdoor living space even on a small patio. All of the items on my patio came from budget-friendly retailers and didn't cost me an arm and a leg. Here is a rundown of where my furniture and accessories came from (please note I have had all of these items for a few years so some things might no longer be in stock)

Coffee table - Target

Green Fern outdoor throw pillows - Target

Side Tables - World Market

Throw Pillows on chairs - World Market

Rug -

If you would like some help making the most of your home you can check out my "Ask a Decorator" consult packages by clicking here. My budget friendly consults are available virtually via video call, so I can help you no matter your location.

If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much for reading!

xo, Kerri


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