Posted on June 05, 2014

Five Design Tips for Small Patios

In Vancouver, patio season may be short, but the four or so months that we do have are pretty incredible: warm but not hot weather, fresh west coast air, and - of course - a bit of a break from the Vancouver rain. More of us are choosing to live in condos and apartments as opposed to houses with big backyards. However, if you’re living high in the sky, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own little bit of nature and personal outdoor retreat. No matter how big or small your patio may be, there are a few key tips that will help to create a space that is useful, comfortable, and relaxing.

1. Get focused

If you don’t have a large outdoor space that can accommodate everything from lounging to eating to BBQ-ing, you may have to be selective when deciding how to set up your space. If you don't enjoy outdoor dining, lounge chairs may be more appropriate than a bistro table. On the other hand, if you're a foodie you may want to start with the BBQ space or herb garden. Focus on what is most important to you, and if there is room left over, you can add other elements from there.

2. Do something different

Many people tend to gravitate to the decor style that exists inside their home. However, this separated space provides you the opportunity to do something a little bit different. Have a traditional interior? Consider more modern pieces for your patio. Have a contemporary or minimalistic home? Decorate your outdoor space with eclectic textures, comfortable furniture, and some bright pops of colour. Having a contrast between your indoor and outdoor space allows for the feeling of “retreat” from your everyday life when you step outside.

3. Be practical

Whites and creams may look great when you first purchase them, but they’re not necessarily going to be the best choice for the elements. Don’t be afraid to go with brighter colours than you would in your own home or choose a neutral like charcoal or beige. Most importantly, choose fabrics that are made for the outdoors. If you do choose lighter colours, just be aware they may not last as long - and perhaps keep the ketchup and mustard at bay.

4. Get planting

So much of what really makes a relaxing and beautiful outdoor space is the life you bring into it - the plants! Whether you enjoy growing tomatoes, kale, and basil for fresh summer salads, or prefer to focus on flowers, the main goal is to add some greenery and colour. Including taller bushes can also add an element of privacy from neighbouring balconies. At the end of the day, it really is the plants that will make your patio or balcony the natural outdoor oasis that it should be.

5. Let the light shine in

Enjoying your patio in the sunshine is only half the joy. When planning your space, make sure to include lighting in the design. No, we don’t mean the bright light needed for vision purposes, but lighting that will allow you to enjoy your patio into all hours of the night. Options can include tiki lights, candles, or outdoor patio lights. You'll be surprised how much more use you get out of your balcony by creating a welcoming space for day and night. 

Happy patio season!

Photo credit: One Kind Design