10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Tiny Outdoor Space

Turn that once wasted patio into the outdoor retreat you've always dreamed of.

We still have a few more months left on the calendar before we can start dreaming about summer barbecues, but that doesn’t mean we can’t jump straight into planning mode, right?

For those of us with a tiny patio or balcony, our outdoor design options might seem more limited. But the truth is, with a bit of scheming you can create an amazing outdoor oasis no matter how small your space is.

With spring and summer on the brain, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite ideas for making the most of your (tiny!) outdoor space.

Built-In Bench

Covered Patio

Covered Patio

From

Cousins Undercover

Photo by: Chris Amaral

Chris Amaral

If you own your home and have a bit more flexibility with your budget, you might want to consider some built-in options. A built-in bench made from either concrete or wood would be the perfect solution for a tight spot, as you could build it to perfectly fit in your space. Combining a built-in bench with a table could create the perfect outdoor dining spot or simply work as a fun gathering space for you and your friends and family.

Hidden Storage

Backyard Deck With Firewood Storage

Backyard Deck With Firewood Storage

Photo by: Chris Amaral

Chris Amaral

Another smart way to maximize your small outdoor space is with hidden storage. This is an especially great option if you want to keep pillows, throws or entertaining necessities on hand but need a spot to stash them. Even if you live in a warmer climate, it's not a bad idea to keep your outdoor goodies out of the elements when you’re not using them. A storage bench is a great idea (and would provide a decent amount of space), but you could also try a storage ottoman or side table.

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Hide and Go Teak

Photo By: Overstock.com

The Ultimate Garden Shed

Photo By: Beth Singer Photographer, Inc.

Smart Use of Space

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  1. white photos

Photo By: Beth Singer Photographer, Inc.

Stylish Storage

Photo By: Beth Singer Photographer, Inc.

Ornate Obelisk

Photo By: Beth Singer Photographer, Inc.

Hidden Storage

Photo By: Beth Singer Photographer, Inc.

Front Porch Put Away

Photo By: Case Design/Remodeling Inc.

Porch Storage

Photo By: Case Design/Remodeling Inc.

Coiled in Copper

Photo By: Frontgate

Treasured Trash

Photo By: Horchow

Hang Time

Photo By: Lowe’s

Firewood Storage

Photo By: Overstock.com

Moby Deck

Photo By: Frontgate.com

Custom-Built Recycling Station

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Tucked Away Trash

Photo By: Overstock.com

Propane in Its Place

Photo By: Lowe’s

Double-Duty Furniture

Outdoor Table With Beverage Storage

Outdoor Table With Beverage Storage

Photo by: Horchow

For small-space living, my favorite go-to solution is double-duty furniture (and this goes for both indoor and outdoor small-space challenges). A storage bench is a great example of this, but you can really think outside the box when it comes to outfitting your space. You can use a small coffee table for extra seating, a stool that doubles as a side table or larger throw pillows (made from weatherproof fabric) that also works as floor cushions.

Outdoor Rug

Vibrant Outdoor Space With Hanging Daybed and Draperies

Vibrant Outdoor Space With Hanging Daybed and Draperies

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

Outdoor rugs are an amazing solution for a space that needs a bit more color or pizazz. They also do a wonderful job of defining the perimeter of a space, which is especially helpful if you have a small footprint. Make sure to choose a rug that is designed to remain outside, as it will be made with much heartier materials than a typical indoor rug. If you happen to find an outdoor rug that you love at a good price, you may want to buy two. I find that outdoor rugs tend to endure much more wear and tear, so it’s not a bad idea to keep a backup on hand if you can.

Faux Grass

H2DSW213_Outdoor-Patio-Hammock_s4x3

H2DSW213_Outdoor-Patio-Hammock_s4x3

There are some pretty strong opinions on both sides as to whether or not to go faux with plants or grass. I’m firmly in the “pro faux” camp as long as it’s done right. Faux grass is a great option for an urban patio or balcony to help add the feeling of an actual lawn. To create a more realistic look, make sure you're putting the grass down across an entire defined area. You'll want to eliminate any harsh edges that would immediately indicate that your grass is faux.

Tiny Garden

City Garden With Salvaged Wood Wall and Potting Table

City Garden With Salvaged Wood Wall and Potting Table

Even with a limited amount of space, you can still create a beautiful, vibrant outdoor garden. For a balcony, you might find it easier to stick to a container garden, which basically means that you will keep all of your plants and flowers in containers or pots. This gives you quite a bit of flexibility, as it allows you to easily move things around to change up your space. Flowers, plants and vegetables can all be successfully grown in small-space gardens.

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Rooftop Botany

Edible Arrangements

San Francisco Deck

Big Brooklyn Makeover

Ivy Walls

Creative Uses for Cast-offs

Built-in Beds

Compact Nature

All in a Bowl

Going Vertical

Tiny Planters

Weighty Matters

Mod and Small

On Wheels

Gardening with a View

High-Rise Horticulture

For You, or Someone Else

Stack It

Easy Access

Harvest Often

Urban Aesthetic

Boxwood Spot

Private Spaces

Custom Designs

Making Room for Greenery

Mixed Uses

Planters in Urban Microgarden

Wall Art

Sloped Setting

Farming Vertically

Outdoor Draperies

HGTV Urban Oasis 2015 Backyard Deck

HGTV Urban Oasis 2015 Backyard Deck

Photo by: Sarah Dorio

Sarah Dorio

Another great small-space trick is to add some outdoor drapery panels to your tiny patio or balcony. Curtains, in addition to creating some shade and privacy, can also make your space feel much more like a true outdoor living room. If you don’t already have an overhead option for attaching a curtain rod, consider using a very simple wood frame to hang them on.

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Outdoor Dining Room Makeover: After

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Outdoor Dining Room Makeover: Before

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Accentuate Height

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Ambient Hurricanes

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Coordinating Colors

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Uniting Spaces

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Comfy Host Chairs

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Smart Seating

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Low-Maintenance Table

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Versatile Seating

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Mix-and-Match Style

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Add Privacy with Plants

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Help Yourself

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Stocking the Bar

©Sarah Dorio Photography

Throw Pillows

Stylish Deck With Sectional Seating

Stylish Deck With Sectional Seating

You may think you need to keep accessories to a minimum outdoors because it's ... outside. But it's actually quite the opposite! Take your favorite indoor items, like pillows and throws, and incorporate them outdoors, too. Use durable, mildew-resistant outdoor linens to infuse color and add a cozy, comfortable touch to your space.

Fire Pit Table

Pull Up a Seat

Pull Up a Seat

Photo by: Photo courtesy of The Home Depot

Photo courtesy of The Home Depot

Fire pit tables have grown in popularity over the last few years, and they are a great option for a tight space. While not in use, you could easily cover the fire pit with an additional tabletop for some outdoor dining space (double-duty furniture!). When you’re done with your meal, remove the top, light up the fire and have some s'mores for dessert.

Painted Deck

BPF_original_modern-seating-from-pallets_beauty-a_4x3

BPF_original_modern-seating-from-pallets_beauty-a_4x3

For those of you who are looking to go a bit more bold, painting your deck is a fun idea. You could really go for it by painting the entire deck in a chic pattern. Or if you'd prefer a safer look to start, try simply painting a "rug" to define your space.

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Solid Color

Photo By: Photo by: Peter Frank Edwards

Solid Color

Solid Color

Painted "Rug"

Stripes

Geometric Pattern

Checkerboard Pattern

Abstract Pattern

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