5 tips for styling a small outdoor area 2



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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 its 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”. Before you get carried away, mentally planning those long family 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, or read a book, or do some gardening?

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 its important to get it right.

2. Choose furniture that doesn’t dominate the space

With a small space, you need to avoid ‘bulk’ at all costs. This is something downsizers really need to be careful of. A small space can feel even more cramped with furniture that is too big for it.

It may be tempting to hang onto that 10 piece setting, but do you really want to be squeezing past a big setting to water your plants? If gardening is on your agenda, make sure you leave space for it.

It’s not just about furniture size, but also silhouette. Choose:

  • sofas and benches with narrow, 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 a 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 planters are back in a big way!

5. Leave yourself some room to manoeuvre.

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 and 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

Share your thoughts below.

Bev Mackenzie

With a background in Marketing, Bev Mackenzie runs Petite Retreat Outdoor Living which sells outdoor furniture and accessories ideally suited to small spaces. The business idea was born during her search for stylish items to transform her own small balcony into a tranquil urban oasis. petiteretreat.com.au

  1. I like this kind of space , it’s a special escape and achievable with little expense but very personalised .

  2. We are downsizing from acreage to a patio. It has a beautiful view and I just love having meals, cups of tea or coffee, reading books and entertaining out there. They are like favourite rooms. Chairs and benches without arms are a big no no for myself and my friends. Over 60’s tend to need leverage when rising.

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