So you’ve got a small outdoor space, that you’d like to transform into a little oasis, and not quite sure how to approach it?

Whether it’s a balcony, courtyard or simply a small corner of a garden, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. Be realistic about how you will use the space

You may think “Oh that’s easy! I’m going to entertain”. But before you get carried away, mentally planning those long alfresco lunches, stop and challenge yourself. How often are you really going to do that?

Or, are you more likely to sit out there with a cup of coffee before leaving for work, or a glass of wine after work?

With a small space you have to make choices. You’ll want to allocate more space to the activity you’ll do most often. This will also determine your furniture choices, which will most likely be your biggest expense, so it’s important to get it right.

If it is alfresco dining, then you can confidently go ahead and buy that dining setting!

2. Make sure you choose furniture that doesn’t dominate the space

With a small space, you need to avoid ‘bulk’ at all costs. It’s all about the silhouette. So go for:

  • Sofas and benches with thin or preferably no arms
  • Slim profile legs on tables and chairs
  • Chairs that can slide fully under tables

3. Choose materials and fabrics that ‘open up’ your space

  • Glass table tops
  • Light colours
  • Diaphanous seating fabrics that allow light to penetrate (Batyline and Textilene are good options)
  • Open weave wickers

4. Go vertical

With limited floor space, place a few feature pots on the floor area, and then make use of walls, ceilings and railings for greenery to create that lush feeling.

There are some great, easy to install vertical garden and railing pots available and hanging plants are back in a big way!

5. Leave yourself some room to move

This may sound like a contradiction, but whatever your chosen leisure activity, there will also be ‘the everyday’ when you need the space for drying some laundry or doing some DIY. You can temporarily create space by going for:

  • Stackable chairs
  • Folding tables & chairs
  • Two small square tables instead of one long one: they can be put together when you’re entertaining, and pushed into different corners when not in use. Or, if you go for the right look, you can even use one indoors.
  • Pots on castors

Have you decorated a small outdoor space? Share your tips below with us.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Author: Petite Retreat Outdoor Living
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  • My home is really lacking in a great outdoors space.


  • Great tips and a further one I would add – if you are on a balcony use a mix of perlite & vermiculite instead of soil to reduce the weight in your pots and hanging baskets.


  • All great ideas and you have to make sure you can move around easy!


  • I think it is important to have a small outdoor sanctuary.


  • We looked at the back corner of our backyard for months, trying to come up with ideas to fill the space where the cubby house had been. I’m glad we waited and really thought it through. I’m someone who needs to visualise so it was tricky to me. In the end, we concreted a square area, put up a shade sail (too windy for any other structures I was considering), painted the back fence a slate blue, bamboo screening on the cream colour bond fence, a few pots with colours, and a tranquil buddha-type plaque (large), and Kmart Moroccan-style furniture. We love it. It’s my happy place on a nice day.

    • looks amazing, such a lovely space. I need to come up with some idea’s on a space in our yard when we get rid of our swing set.


  • Very clever and wise tips, thanks.


  • Great tips i need to do this in my house though lol i have such big furniture and a small house


  • Great tips. Thanks. It can be a challenge to get the proportions right for a small space.


  • small space


  • styling outoor space


  • great tips very helpful..thankyou :)


  • I have recently moved into a unit with my son and we have very limited space, so these ideas are perfect!


  • I love this idea and it looks great.


  • styling outdoor


  • I wish I had the time to do this :)


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