Patio Décor Ideas for Your Small Space or Balcony

Idées de déco pour terrasse ou balcon de petite taille

When the days get longer, and the snow starts to melt, we all look wistfully outside and beg summer to hurry up. We imagine lazy afternoons with a good book, al fresco dinners and evenings under the stars with friends. But if you have limited outdoor space, the warm-weather daydream can feel more like an aspiration than reality. We’re about to help change that. With careful planning and smart shopping, you can easily create a stylish and cozy outdoor oasis—no matter the square footage.

Looking for trendy patio inspiration? Check out our top 10 patio ideas for 2023.

In this guide

1. Try a sofa that’s big on comfort but slim in profile.

You can absolutely have a comfy outdoor couch in your small space, but you have to be smart about it. You won’t be able to fit a big, bulky sofa, so go for a loveseat or a small sectional with a shallower seat depth. Up the cozy factor by adding throw pillows and blankets for chillier nights, plus an ottoman or a couple of all-weather pouffes so people can put their feet up.

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2. Patio chairs give you more control over your space.

A black wire patio chair and black metal side table.

Using individual patio chairs as seating means your space can be more versatile. Chairs can be moved around more easily and tucked out of the way when your kids want the room to play, or you want to do yoga outside on a sunny summer morning. There are many types of chairs to mix and match, too—stacking, egg, swinging, rocking, etc.—to give the space a warm, inviting vibe.

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3. Chat sets have entered the conversation (literally).

A conversation set with two chairs and a small table

Chat sets—sometimes called conversation sets—are like a hybrid between conventional patio furniture and bistro sets. They usually include a couple of comfortable chairs (rather than the straight-back chairs of traditional bistro sets) and a little table between them. They’re perfect for creating an intimate atmosphere for two people to visit, share a drink or enjoy a meal without taking up too much space.

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4. Choose smart seating for dinner parties.

An outdoor bistro set with small round table and two chairs.

If entertaining is your jam, don’t let your small outdoor space rain on your dinner party parade. Of course, you can host your friends and family for a meal, but you have to think ahead when considering outdoor furniture. Look for compact dining sets or an elevated coffee table that can double as both serving and dining space, and buy a stack of folding chairs that you can put in storage when they aren’t in use.

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5. A bench is an easy way to add more seating.

A wicker bench with a seat cushion on a patio.

A bench is the perfect addition to a small space. The profile is usually quite streamlined and the seat width should be enough to fit two or three people. In addition, they are generally made from wood or metal, which means that—when taken care of—they can withstand the elements. Benches can even include under-seating storage to replace a separate storage piece.

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6. Add convenience with accent tables.

An outdoor wicker side table with a small potted plant on it

If you don’t have the space for a coffee table, side tables can do double duty with both form and function. A cute accent table here and there adds an easy pop of colour or style while also providing a place to set your mug, glass, book, phone…you name it. If you don’t have space for a dining area, consider purchasing a few folding side tables for meals.

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7. Accessorize from the ground up.

You might be shocked at what flooring can do to tie a space together. A durable, patterned outdoor rug or chic, snap-together outdoor tiles can elevate the style factor more than any other accessory. Giving the ground a makeover makes it a focal point, is an opportunity to incorporate accent colours and helps to make the whole space feel welcoming. (Imagine a house without any area rugs to warm it up. It’s basically the same idea.)

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8. Make privacy a priority.

Your outdoor space should feel like a refuge from the outside world (even if you love your neighbours!), and adding a few accessories can help to make it feel that way. For example, curtains, a privacy screen, a shade sail or an umbrella can go a long way toward providing seclusion. Also, add an outdoor speaker to play your favourite tunes and block out ambient noise.

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9. Build yourself a living wall.

Garden walls have been a trend for a few seasons now, and they’re easier to execute than you might think. From wall-mounted mesh pouches that you can fill with soil and seedlings to stacked window-box style planters, it’s all about bringing in greenery to soften the space. If you don’t have room to add a vertical element of greenery, potted plants and flowers can have the same effect.

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10. Use tricks of the eye to make the space seem bigger.

A string of patio lights over an outdoor sofa.

A few design tricks can help make small spaces seem roomier (and these tips apply to indoor spaces, too!). If you have a wall protected from the elements, a cleverly hung mirror can reflect the area and create the illusion that it’s larger than it is. You can also keep the colour palette light and airy and add strings of twinkle or Edison lights along the length of the space to draw the eye.

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11. No matter the size of your space, make it your own.

This rule applies to outdoor spaces of all sizes: if you choose decor items that make you feel good, you’ll almost certainly create a space that others will love. The only caveat in small spaces is to make sure that whatever you display is to scale. Anything oversized will overwhelm the area, so go for smaller, more subtle pieces. Add colour and personality with fun accessories, throw pillows, dishware, glassware and more.

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Determine your needs

First, make a list of how you want to use your outdoor space. For example, are you looking to create a quiet area to unwind? Do you want to entertain often? Would you like to serve meals? Do you want your kids to have a place to play? Once you have your list, number each item in order of importance, breaking down your must-haves and your nice-to-haves. With your wish list on paper, you can prioritize within your space and maximize your budget to make your non-negotiables a reality.

Measure your space

When you decide how the space needs to function, you can evaluate the available area to determine what’s possible. Taking measurements is key.

yellow measuring tape
  1. To figure out your square footage, measure the length of the space and multiply it by the width. If your space has an odd shape, you may have to measure it in sections and add the numbers to get a total.
  2. After calculating the square footage, consider the non-useable space. You won’t be able to use the area directly in front of the door, for example, as you’ll need easy access to your home.
  3. Consider whether you intend to have a storage bin, outdoor planters etc. and how much space each item will need.
  4. Don’t forget a BBQ if you plan to include one.

Make a plan

You’ll save time and energy by drawing a map of your outdoor space before shopping. First, draw a blueprint of your patio or balcony using graph paper, each square representing a square foot. Next, sketch in your non-useable space (be generous, so you don’t end up banging your knee or stubbing your toe whenever you run inside to get drinks or refill the chip bowl). Once you know how much space you have to work with and the shape of that square footage, you can start researching furniture and décor options. Make sure you check out the dimensions of any piece of furniture you’re considering to ensure it will fit with enough clearance around it.

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Katie Dupuis is an award-winning writer and editor in Toronto, and mom to two daughters (Sophie and Juliette). She is also the managing director of Chick & Owl Design Co. When she's not working, she's baking, reading or watching too much TV.

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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.