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
  • sharing this one with my brother – sounds awesome


  • Great article thank you for sharing these tips and ideas


  • Great tips and very useful! Thank you for sharing!


  • tips for styling


  • I dNot gave an outdoor area suitable for this, but I love the ideas


  • We’re in the process of decorating a small corner space so all of these tips will be really helpful.


  • Really practical ideas, thanks for sharing.


  • looks a little like mine


  • white equals light and airy!


  • Great ideas – we have a hydroponic gardening system which uses vertical and bench height gardens – gives us all we need for salads and other vegetables.

    • We have a hydro vertical planter as well, mostly for my herbs. Have also recently discovered some self-watering pots on castors. These are great because you don’t have to water as frequently, as the roots can grow down to the water reservoir at the bottom so the plants look better. Worth the extra money, especially if you’re away or can’t look after them regularly.


  • Interesting article but still perplexed about day beds.
    12TH AUGUST 2015 AT 9:26 PM,
    CHERZ SAID:I often wonder how folks keep day beds and cushions so clean and bright when they are used outside.


  • Great tips for a small space.


  • I love these creative ideas.


  • I agree with using minimalist style furniture. I’d suggest using plastic covers to prevent dirt. Just uncover when you want to use. Easier than carrying cushion indoors and outdoors. But watch out for spiders.


  • Really cool ideas thanks.


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