There’s nothing quite as pleasant as spending summer evenings enjoying your favorite beverage and relaxing in an outdoor space. Isn’t that why patios were invented?
Short on yard space? No problem — we spoke with home improvement expert Teris Pantazes, co-founder and CEO of EFynch.comEFynch.com, who gave us great tips on how to design a petite patio that will wow your guests. With the right touches, you can create a cozy outdoor space that will have you and your guests lingering late.
There’s nothing like a little lighting to add some charm to an outdoor sitting area.
“Our favorite feature is an old-school string using classic bulbs. Think a small café in Paris or maybe Chianti,” Pantazes said. “Take your guests on a ‘vacation’ with your decor and no matter the size of your patio, the impression can be grand.”
Add a string of cheerful bistro lights or delicate fairy lights to create a relaxed atmosphere that helps you unwind after a long day.
Pantazes suggests choosing furniture with a smaller footprint so as to not overwhelm the space, noting that smaller patios can rarely accommodate more than a few people.
Keep your selections to scale, forgoing larger patio tables for smaller café tables that can accommodate just two or three people, depending on whether you’re having dinner or drinks. He also recommends selecting multipurpose items.
“An outdoor shelf can be a great café or coffee table in between chairs, holding hors d’oeuvres and drinks,” Pantazes said. “It can also be used for storage items underneath, like a citronella candle or flower pot when the table is being used.”
In addition, benches with interior storage space are a great multifunctional seating option.
Floor space may be at a premium, but that doesn’t mean your postage stamp-sized patio can’t benefit from a little good old-fashioned greenery.
Pantazes recommends keeping it small and going for something cute rather than abundant.
“Flower boxes can be great, especially if there is a railing,” Pantazes said. “Like the furniture, choose shorter options like miniature daffodils.” It’s also a great opportunity to try your hand at bonsai!
Another charming touch could be a few terra cotta pots overflowing with fresh herbs that can be plucked for use in homemade hors d’oeuvres or summer cocktails.
There may not be much space to build out, but don’t forget the vertical dimension of your patio space. Vines can be a beautiful addition, especially against exposed brick, bringing in a very natural element. Keep in mind that vines will need to be pruned to prevent them from overwhelming the space entirely.
Guests tend not to even notice the size of a space when it employs a unique feature, such as a built-in fire pit. In urban areas, gas fire pits are a convenient and safe option that can be kept compact, adding to the ambiance of your patio area.
“I also like some of the gas options because they tend to keep away bugs, and I’ve found that some people are sensitive to citronella,” Pantazes said.
He also mentions the popularity of quality Bluetooth speakers.
“I find so many people forget the power of music when laying out a space,” he said “Remember, size is more of a sensory feeling and not physical.”
Finally, consider adding a rug, especially if you’re a renter and can’t do much about the harsh concrete flooring. Pantazes cautions against getting anything too busy; it could make the space feel smaller.
If your focus is making the patio space feel larger than it is, there are a number of strategies you can use to open it up. Pantazes suggests using shorter furniture, ideally under three feet high, to keep sight lines clean and open.
Bright colors — whether it’s a cheery red wall or an electric blue table peeking out from beneath the cascading vines of a potted plant — can really pop in a small space and detract from modest dimensions.
Proper lighting is also important. Rather than using a floodlight, highlight just a small section of the patio with a lighting option that is more intimate. Leaving some sections in a dimmer light will create dimension and help add a feeling of overall depth.
“Of course, a hanging mirror always works,” said Pantazes. He suggests checking local secondhand shops to find antique or post-industrial goods that have the perfect amount of wear and tear, rendering the mirror a piece of art in its own right. Mirrors add natural dimension to a small space, tricking the eye into thinking the space extends farther than it actually does.
Finally, be wary of bringing too many people into the space. Very little ruins the illusion of size faster.
“Keeping an open space for guests to maneuver and keeping the attention focused in the immediate area is a key to making your space unforgettable,” Pantazes said.
From choosing the right furniture to making a statement, these tips should help you utilize even the smallest patio spaces. Looking for something you can do to add impact quickly? Check out our list of patio projects you can do this weekend.
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