Small patios, such as are often had in townhome communities or patio home communities, hold many opportunities to be used as an extension of the indoor living spaces. They can initially seem tiny and rather bleak, but with some creativity and thoughtful planning, you can easily transform your small patio into a beautiful outdoor retreat to enjoy many months out of the year.
1. Think of what colors you would like to incorporate into this outdoor area. If it is an extension of your indoor living room, you may want to pull colors that coordinate from your interior. Maybe you like the bright, summer colors (think yellows, pinks, oranges) or something more tranquil like the blues and whites. We are currently in the midst of white and ivory tones being on-trend color choices for interiors, and this extends to landscaping as well- white is very popular right now. Pick colors you like and keep those in mind when you're planning this space.
Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
2. Think about what furnishings you'll have and how this outdoor space will be used. How do you want to use this space? Once you've decided its main purpose as an extension of your home, then think about pieces that will fill out the space nicely. If this outdoor room is to be used mainly as a living space- do you have room for an outdoor sofa and chair? Or a small outdoor sectional such as the one above? Do you have space for two chaise lounges? Or maybe you want to create primarily an outdoor dining area- will your space accommodate a table that can comfortably seat 4? By thinking about pieces that fit well in the space and aren't too small, it will visually seem less cluttered than having several small pieces of outdoor furniture in your small space. This includes an outdoor area rug, if you'd like to add one. If you add one, look for one that is on the larger side (to where it takes up most of the floor of your patio) versus smaller. Function is the upmost importance for this space- form (how it looks) follows function.
After you've thought about colors you'd like to incorporate in this design and researched or purchased furnishings, it's time to add life to the space!
3. Plant pots! Color brings a space to life. Think about the colors you wanted to incorporate (from above) and work those into your pots and/or flowers. Think thriller, filler, and spiller. Read this blog post for tips on planting beautiful color pots! Also think about varying the heights of your pots or plants. Majesty palms and Kimberly Queen ferns in summer add height and help create a beautiful backdrop. Simple plant pedestals can also create height for your pots and create interest in this space.
4. Add texture to this space. Texture always makes spaces seem more interesting and vibrant. Our eyes read textures as we look around a space. Here are some easy ways to add texture: through differing foliage of plants, throw pillows, a rustic table or wicker seating arrangement, sleek glass on a table top, the shininess of metal in a table or container pot, an outdoor area rug, etc.
Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
5. Many townhomes have a large partition separating their patio from their neighbors'. Think of that vertical space and incorporate it into your design by adding a trellis and growing a vine or climbing rose (for example), up that trellis. Or attach a metal shelf to it where you can keep gardening supplies, fresh herbs, citronella candles, or other useful items on it. If you need extra privacy, think about adding outdoor drapes (Sunbrella fabric helps protect them from the elements and from fading)- they also make your eye go upward to make your space feel larger, as well as add a nice backdrop if needed (and give extra privacy from neighbors). As another option, attaching a mirror to that wall bounces light off as well as increases the visual space of your outdoor room (as shown above).
Photo courtesy of Wedding Chicks
6. Think about lighting! In the evenings, ambient lighting can evoke a feeling of peacefulness and serenity. Adding a small lamp outdoors, if your area is covered, or attaching outdoor string lights above your space can allow you to enjoy your space after dusk, as well. This article is helpful (although it also shows how to hang string lights for evening weddings!) to explain the many options in outdoor string lights and how to hang them.
We are happy to help answer your questions on outdoor garden rooms at the garden center! We look forward to seeing you soon.