Planning a Small Space Patio

Even if your yard is small there's probably enough room for a patio. Small spaces have some advantages: For one thing, they're easy to make secluded and cozy.

A 6x6-foot section of sand-set stone provides just enough room for a barbecue grill and doesn't require a large cash outlay. Plus, you can start and finish the project in a weekend. There are many ways to make small spaces seem larger and more comfortable. The key to designing petite places is to focus on simplicity.

  • Create one large area from two smaller ones. If, for example, your patio spills into your yard without a boundary marker, it will seem larger.
  • Draw attention to the patio, not the confines of the property. Instead of letting the lawn end at the property line, sculpt its edges with flower beds. This will redirect attention to the patio.
  • Concentrate color in a patch instead of scattering flowers throughout the landscape. Groups of flowers have more impact than scattered blooms. If you use color in more than one location, repeat two or three colors to tie the areas together.
  • Take advantage of views. For example, if you live next to an attractive pond or rolling lawn, make the most of what that surrounding scenery has to offer by leaving the view open.
  • Place screening only as needed to enhance privacy and block unattractive views.
  • Hang wind chimes or install a fountain. The soothing sounds subdue noise from nearby neighbors or streets.
  • Install built-in seating. Built-ins take up less space than freestanding furniture.
  • Use round tables. You'll have more space around a round table on the patio than a rectangular one.
  • Scale paving patterns to the size of your patio. Small patterns and contrasting textures are confusing and busy, and will make you feel hemmed in.

Details demand attention

Details -- those special decorative touches -- must work extra hard in small spaces because there's no room for clutter. Finishing touches such as artwork, found objects, or architectural salvage give small spaces personality. Your small patio might be just the right size for an object that would get lost in a larger setting. Too much of a good thing, however, can ruin an otherwise artful patio. To avoid overwhelming the space, step back and take a look at your patio in its entirety. Check for noticeable bare spots. Consider whether they function better as empty areas that draw attention to your decorating scheme or whether a potted plant, piece of artwork, or other accent could improve the setting. Leave room around each detail or collection to set it apart. For example, if you line a wall shelf with shells, don't put another batch of small items on a table right below the shelf. If you have more things to display than you have space, store the surplus pieces, then rotate elements from your decorative stock, replacing some every two or three months.


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