You don’t need have to have a patio the size of a mall parking lot to create a personal getaway. In fact, one of the advantages of a small patio is that it costs less to transform. A small space requires less furniture, less landscaping and fewer decorative items. It also requires less maintenance which means you’ll spend more time enjoying your outdoor space and less taking care of it.
Start with a clean slate; remove everything possible from the patio and give the space a thorough cleaning. Power wash exterior walls and flooring if needed. Get rid of dead plants, damaged planters and rickety furniture. Wash any adjacent sliding glass or French doors and any windows that can be viewed from the patio. Make repairs as needed. You’ll never feel relaxed if you’re surrounded by “should-do” chores.
Add a few extra feet to your patio quickly and inexpensively with the help of concrete pavers. Choose pavers that complement the existing style of your home and backyard landscape. Creating an extension just large enough to house the grill will make the patio seem much less crowded and more serene. A path of pavers surrounding the patio will add visual space and soften the transition between patio and lawn.
Some undesirable items are impossible or too costly to move, but they can be hidden. Use a vine-covered trellis to block an ugly view or utility box. Store your hose in an attractive container and plant a small shrub near the faucet to camouflage it. Cover a stained or unattractive patio with an outdoor rug.
Harsh sun can prevent you from using your patio retreat even when the weather is “perfect” for outdoor living. If a big project like a pergola is out of the question, consider installing a shade sail. Unlike a standing umbrella, a shade sail won’t take up precious real estate on your small patio floor, but it will provide privacy and protection from the sun. In addition to the practical function of a shade sail, providing some sort of “roof” overhead will make your outdoor room feel cozier.
You may want a dining table, an oversized chaise lounge and a nook for intimate conversation on your small patio, but you have to be realistic about the square footage. Too much furniture will crowd the space, making it look and feel even smaller. Prioritize your needs and purchase outdoor furniture that’s the right scale for the patio. Choose fabrics in neutral colors and select items that are all in the same general style and tone to create a more relaxing flow.
Outdoor lighting is a must; not only does it make your patio safer but it adds beauty and sparkle to the space. If the area isn’t hardwired for outdoor lighting, string hanging lights in a crisscross pattern over the patio for a festive look or highlight certain areas with outdoor Christmas lights. Position solar flood lights under trees and in strategic places in the yard to create dramatic effects at night.
Flowing grasses planted around the patio’s edge, colorful outdoor pillows and cushions and other all-weather textiles add texture and a sense of comfort to your space. Just like indoors, your outdoor room isn’t complete without a few well-placed accessories. On the patio those accessories include potted plants, candle-lit lanterns and night-blooming flowers. Softening the hard edges around your patio will complete its transformation into a personal getaway and make you feel like you’re tucked away in a private oasis every time you step outside.
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