Whether you're a city-dweller or you live in the 'burbs, a small patio can easily become a piece of paradise when you need a place to escape. Even if you can only carve out a few square feet of outdoor space, you can create a getaway for those moments when you need a change of scenery and a bit of fresh air.
Though your patio is on the exterior of your home, it should be a logical continuation of the rest of your house and feel like an extension of your design approach—and not an afterthought. Whether you want a place to dine al fresco or simply to curl up with a book, a patio that's decorated with forethought and purpose can make all the difference.
From the sunniest days to the coldest nights, these small patio ideas are perfect all year long. Click through for inspiration to create a vacation-worthy patio right outside your back door.
Add a Stove
One great way to make your small patio an escape you can use all year long is to add a wood-burning stove. This cozy patio features a small stove that is perfect for toasting marshmallows and keeping warm when the temperature drops.
If your patio has tile, a quick upgrade can ensure your small space is bursting with personality. Consider peel-and-stick tiles if your patio is sheltered from the elements, or hand-paint your tiles with a design that adds a lot of texture to the space.
Invest in a Fire Pit
There is no better way to spend a crisp night than next to a fire with s'mores and a glass of wine. Invest in a firepit for your small patio to make it a usable space even when the weather takes a turn for the chillier. While a gas firepit is more expensive, it's a great choice if you want an easy-to-maintain option.
Hang Twinkle Lights
A few strands of twinkle lights can transform nearly any space with minimal effort. Hang lights on your small patio to create a cozy and warm glow.
No outlet? No problem. Opt for solar lights instead to keep your patio lit up when the sun goes down.
Hang a Projector
There's a reason we love drive-in movie theaters so much—something is so relaxing about enjoying your favorite film under the stars in the fresh air. Hang a projector outside and instantly turn your small patio into an outdoor theater.
Install an Outdoor Fireplace
An indoor fireplace can make a small living room feel more spacious, so it's no surprise that the same principle applies outside. Install an outdoor fireplace to give your small patio a more permanent and purposeful feel.
Add Potted Greenery
Just as a potted houseplant can help an indoor room feel finished and warm, the same goes for outside. Add a cute planter to a patio sitting area filled with a hardy succulent or cactus to take advantage of the warm summer months.
Consider a Transitional Space
If you love the indoor-outdoor look as much as we do, then you will adore this transitional outdoor deck. A sliding door allows for instant access to your patio, and by combining the living spaces, it makes the small deck feel larger than it is.
Embrace Your Climate
Depending on your climate, you may be able to safely move your indoor plants outside. Spruce up your patio with plants such as cacti or succulents to make your small space feel even larger.
Be mindful of which plants you move outside and opt for low-maintenance plants if you don't have much of a green thumb.
Hang Cafe Lights
Cafe lights can add a warm and cozy feel to your patio all season long. They work well with any décor style, and they add enough light to brighten your space while still maintaining ambiance for those evening glasses of wine.
Go for a Statement Piece
Even if you don't have a lot of real estate to play with outside, an oversized piece of furniture can make your small patio feel larger. Opt for a statement egg chair or an oversized swing to create a focal point for your small space.
Create a Reading Nook
There is something wonderful about a cozy corner dedicated exclusively to relaxing, reading, and sipping coffee. Even if you can't fit a lot of furniture on your patio, a small reading chair can create a great escape in the fresh air.
Light Some Candles
An easy way to add elegance and ambiance to your outdoor space is by placing a few hurricane glasses filled with candles around the deck. Swap the candles for citronella during the buggy summer months to ward off unwanted guests.
Hang a Pendant Light
The right pendant light can add loads of personality to any small space. Upgrade your patio by stringing a pendant over your seating area to give the space focus and help it to feel like a natural extension of your home.
Can't find patio furniture that fits your space just right? DIY your own outdoor couch using repurposed pallets and all-weather cushions. A custom outdoor bench or sofa is perfect for those awkward spaces that don't fit traditional pieces.
Throw in a Lot of Pillows
Layering goes a long way when it comes to decorating a small patio. Add a variety of cozy throw pillows to your outdoor lounge furniture to make your small patio a comfortable place you won't want to leave.
If your patio is not covered, make sure to buy outdoor-friendly thick woven pillows—or in lieu of that, bring your throw pillows inside every night to avoid mold and mildew.
Create an Outdoor Living Room
With the right décor, your patio can feel like a second living room. Add purposeful touches like a hanging mirror and decorative side tables for drinks, and you can easily extend the footprint of your home without a remodel. Hang a ceiling fan to circulate the air and keep the room comfortable, even in the dog days of summer.
Sprinkle in Pops of Color
Upgrade standard patio furniture with a few bright throw pillows. Adding pops of color throughout your space creates a textured look that can make your patio feel much bigger than it actually is.
Cover Up the Roof
This is a great way to extend the life of your patio no matter the season or the weather. Cover a wooden pergola with a sheet of polycarbonate plastic to easily add a bit of shelter from the elements without splurging on a whole porch renovation.
Focus on Al Fresco Dining
When decorating your small outdoor space, consider how you will use it most. If dining al fresco is your thing, swap the outdoor couch for a dining table to host dinners all summer long. An oversized coffee table is a great solution for those who want a lounge area but still need a place for appetizers and drinks.
Layering texture is a great way to make any small space more interesting. Give your quaint patio a facelift with a few throw pillows or blankets, rugs, and other fabrics in various textures to add depth.
Take Advantage of Three Season Rooms
If you live in a cold climate, you probably want to extend your patio season as long as possible. While a four-season room offers the most comfort throughout the year, don't discredit the value of a three-season room. Add a space heater and some blankets to make your three-season patio cozy through early winter.
Invest in Lighting
From sconces to hanging strands, getting the lighting right is essential to creating the perfect patio space. Focus on the lighting to ensure your patio is cozy and usable all day (and season) long.
Opt for solar string lights instead of plug-ins. Not only will you save on your electric bill, but you can set them so they turn on as soon as the sun goes down.
Not only do these sheer curtains add privacy and protect you from wind, but they can also make a muggy Saturday on the porch a little less buggy. Hang sheer curtains from a pergola or porch covering to create your own outdoor oasis.
Create a Winter Wonderland
With a porch like this, you may start a countdown to the crisp winter days. Hang lanterns and string lights to create a winter wonderland on your small patio. Just add a cup of hot chocolate and you won't even notice the cold weather.
Add a Southwestern Vibe
Even if you live across the country, you can channel the Southwest to create a boho-inspired cozy patio. This tile and stucco outdoor fireplace is perfect for warming up during a crisp fall afternoon on the patio, and it creates an instant centerpiece for the outdoor living space.
Style it With Lanterns
If you are into the boho-modern look, you will love this adorable small patio idea. Hang rattan and wicker lanterns and style your space with understated, muted colors to create a simple, rustic vibe that's perfect throughout the year. Finish the look with sheer hanging curtain panels to add privacy and a bit of warmth.
Hang a Plant Wall
Not only is this plant wall idea attractive and fun, but it is also incredibly functional. Use your small patio wall space to grow a variety of plants or herbs. A vertical herb garden like this one is also great if you don't have the space (or the patience) for a larger garden.
Opt for a Simple Color Palette
While we love bold color palettes as much as the next decorator, they can sometimes overload a small space and make it appear cluttered. Opt for neutrals like beige, white, or gray to make your cozy patio appear larger and more spacious.
Focus on Landscaping
You can transform a cozy patio into an outdoor oasis by adding a handful of planters filled with outdoor plants. This is an easy way to transition between your indoor and outdoor spaces and add a lush, lively vibe to any patio space.
Ensure you pick plants that work well with whatever directional light you have in your space.
Keep it Monochromatic
One way to make a smaller space feel larger is to decorate with a monochromatic palette. Pick a base color and add accents in various shades to create a dimensional patio space that has personality without feeling overly busy.
Amp Up the Textiles
If you want an excuse to use your cozy patio in the dead of winter, splurge on chunky knit throws and woven pillows. You can wrap up in a warm blanket and stay cozy while also adding a touch of visual interest and character to your patio space.
Add Some Shade
Whether you opt for an umbrella over your dining table or you install a pergola with an awning, adding shade to your patio can ensure you use it even in the heat of the summer. Hang lanterns or string lights to add even more warmth to the space.
Add a Planter Box
This boho-chic small patio is the perfect spot for catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee. The planter hanging from the wall helps to center the space and adds a focal point for the cozy nook area. Fill with seasonal flowers you can replace every year or low-maintenance succulents if you live in a warm climate.
Hang a Hammock
Doesn't everyone wish they could be on vacation all year long? Hang a hammock in your patio space to create an instant getaway you can access right outside your door. The best part of a hammock is that you can easily remove it or tuck it out of the way when you need more space for guests and entertaining.