16 Small Patio Ideas That Are Big on Charm

Create your perfect outdoor oasis with inspiration from these small patio ideas.
Emily Benda Gaylord Avatar
small patio idea with gravel and deck

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Just because your patio is petite doesn’t mean you can’t decorate it in a beautiful, welcoming way. Smart design solutions, such as creating a vertical garden or adding a striking umbrella, can make outdoor patios stylish as well as functional. Think about your lifestyle and how you envision using your patio space to help you determine what features are must-haves and what elements you can skip. The secret to success is avoiding clutter—in a small space, you don’t want to trip on ornamental overkill—while expressing your unique taste. So check out these small patio ideas for inspiration and get started designing your perfect outdoor oasis.

1. Smart Sections

Small wooden patio outside
Photo: kettikupper.com

With small outdoor spaces, intentional sectioning can make the most of each area while giving the patio a more expansive feel. This concrete path surrounded by pea gravel lends an airy vibe so that the path from the home seems even longer. Gravel is also low-maintenance as compared to grass, so you can spend less time tending to your patio and more time enjoying it.

2. Secluded Oasis

Outdoor brick patio
Photo: istockphoto.com

Block out distractions with a privacy fence, then adorn it with greenery to transform an outdoor patio into a serene secret spot. The metal trellis attached to the fence is ideal for hanging small pots of herbs as well as supporting vertical plants and vines. The grapes that are pictured, as well as climbing roses, honeysuckle, and wisteria, are some of the best plants to grow up and along structures.

3. Intimate Sitting Area

Outdoor gravel patio
Photo: philippesoule.com

Lush, gorgeous greenery surrounds a simple gravel sitting area to give this small space its natural charm. Metal patio furniture positioned in the rounded areas serves as an invitation to clear your head and escape from a hectic day—a perfect spot to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment. Choosing shrubs that flower can bring a colorful element to the patio at different times of year.

4. Picturesque Pergola

Backyard area with pergola
Photo: istockphoto.com

Take a pergola and add strategic paver placement, and the result is a chic and shady sitting area. Intentional design choices can make a small patio feel big. Here, the width of the pergola and its slatted roof bring an open feeling. The clean lines of the stone pavers draw the eye across the yard beyond the conversational arrangement of the chairs to the rock landscaping.

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5. Warm Wood, Soft White

Backyard patio with wooden platform
Photo: christianohomes.com

In this small space, white lounges and planters lend a spacious feel while the wooden decking evokes warmth—a winning combination. When building a floating deck in your yard, be sure to support the structure with pre-made concrete deck blocks on a stable surface. Even if your home lacks the multiple entrance points this one has, you can still add interest by painting a door in a cool color for a fun focal point.

6. Seating for S’mores

Outdoor patio with mulch around seating area
Photo: istockphoto.com

This backyard patio has more than enough seating options to fit friends and family around an evening fire after a day filled with yard games and grilled eats. A covered porch swing and umbrella provide shade, while lounge chairs allow sun worshippers to bask in the rays. The mulch border around the patio makes the space appear larger, and simple boulders and plants add natural enhancements.

7. Urban Escape

Urban tile patio
Photo: istockphoto.com

This small patio shaded by a verdant pocket garden is tucked away from the hubbub of the city. A comfy pair of green lounge chairs complements the stone pavers to add a fresh, modern feel to the outdoor area. Keep a few easy-to-store folding chairs on hand for guests, making sure their design complements the color scheme of your verdant hideaway.

8. Al Fresco Cook Space

Outdoor Spanish inspired brick patio
Photo: istockphoto.com

Add this Spanish-inspired outdoor kitchen to your covered patio ideas list. The painted tile steps add a wow factor to this space that continues with red stone pavers of varying sizes and a stunning pergola roof. Entertain all day long, whipping up fabulous fare while guests gather around a dining table with an impressive base. Don’t have the space (or budget) for a full outdoor kitchen? Try building this outdoor kitchen station that includes a grill, concrete countertop, built-in cutting board, and lower shelf.

RELATED: How Much Does a Paver Patio Cost?

9. Brick Beauty

Outdoor brick patio
Photo: keerydesign.com

This patio embraces timeless design with a circular brick-paved patio, Adirondack chairs, and classic wrought iron furniture. The space is broken up into sections to make the small patio feel larger, with a dedicated sitting area, dining area, and grilling area. If you notice rust on wrought iron furniture at the end of patio season, use sandpaper or steel wool to gently scrub it off before cleaning and storing away.

10. Mood Lighting

Outdoor patio with fireplace
Photo: littlemiraclesdesigns.com

Smart landscape lighting decisions make this sleek outdoor gathering space feel like a luxurious resort. Portable lanterns are a great solution for small patio decorating ideas since they take up minimal space and add a cozy ambiance. You can also install spot lights or in-ground lights within your landscaping to highlight specific areas and add to the mood lighting.

11. Peaceful Patio Pond

Small patio with garden pond
Photo: istockphoto.com

Cool, colorful, and clever! A trough pond and vibrant foliage create a wonderful atmosphere within this compact patio space. Folks hoping to add a patio pond needn’t worry about complicated plumbing when all that’s required is a pump to circulate the water. (This space has a solar pump, but an electric one will work just as well.) Solar lighting is a smart addition to extend outdoor enjoyment into the evening.

12. Shady Solution

Outdoor patio in the shade
Photo: wilsonlandscapearchitect.com

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good patio umbrella. Not only will it shade your outdoor oasis, an umbrella can make the covered sitting areas feel more intimate. Those looking for small patio ideas on a budget should know that an umbrella will be far less expensive than a pergola or other permanent overhead structure, plus it can be closed for storage. This neutral umbrella allows nature’s beauty to take center stage, but if you prefer a bolder look, a patterned umbrella makes a real statement.

13. Flower Power

Outdoor patio with flower garden
Photo: istockphoto.com

A sitting area surrounded by flowers can spice up an otherwise simple outdoor space. This concrete patio and its broad bench are softened by beautiful blooms, both in the ground and in pots. The cinder block wall around the yard is equally graced by a few slender trees with foliage in different colors. And what about that loveseat-meets-lounger? A delightful way to catch rays a deux!

RELATED: 25 Lush Patio Plants for Your Outdoor Seating Area

14. Sleek and Stylish

Modern patio with large outdoor pond
Photo: istockphoto.com

Those looking for modern patio ideas should appreciate these clean, simple shapes, which have impact yet keep a small space clutter free. The modern tank pond and planters are made of concrete, a material that isn’t as intimidating to work with as you might think. A similarly sleek dining set, also in black and white, completes the coolly inviting vibe.

15. Beach-Inspired Fire Pit

Outdoor beach patio with metal firepit
Photo: istockphoto.com

Want every night at home to feel like a celebratory event on a beautiful beach? Consider a sand terrace fire pit space. The beachgrass and large wood posts surrounding the firepit add to the coastal ambiance. Smaller wood posts used as landscape edging along the pathway and sitting area are a budget- and DIY-friendly solution as well.

16. Showstopping Stone Patio

Circular patio with chairs
Photo: istockphoto.com

Stone is durable, easy care—and absolutely beautiful with the right layout. For stone patio ideas that rock, look no further than this stunning circular design. Different colors and shapes add visual interest without being too distracting. Hedges along the perimeter of the patio create a clean, elegant look similar to the manicured gardens of royal residences. And note how the rectangular dining set adds interesting contrast.