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5 Tips to transform small outdoor spaces

A neglected outdoor space is like a blank canvas waiting for the strokes of creativity to bring it to life. Whether it's a tiny balcony, a compact patio, or a forgotten garden corner, the potential for transformation is limitless. In this guide, we'll explore practical tips on how to turn that overlooked area into a beautiful and welcoming haven.


Creating Zones for Functionality

Small spaces benefit greatly from thoughtful zoning. Divide your outdoor area into functional zones, each serving a specific purpose. For instance, designate a cozy corner for reading, a dining spot for alfresco meals, and cooking/drinking space with a bar or a BBQ. Define these zones with subtle flooring changes, planters, or decorative screens to add structure to your space.


Choosing the Right Furniture

Selecting the right furniture is pivotal in maximizing both comfort and circulation in a confined space. Opt for versatile, space-efficient pieces that cater to your intended use. Round tables, for example, facilitate smoother movement around tight corners, creating a more open and accessible ambiance. Foldable furniture or pots on wheels are also a clever ideas, allowing flexibility when you need more space.


Utilizing Vertical Planes

Vertical surfaces are often overlooked but can be transformative in a small outdoor space. Embrace fences, walls, and screens as opportunities for both function and aesthetics. Install wall-mounted planters to bring greenery to eye level, use climbing plants to cover unattractive walls, and consider decorative screens for privacy. These elements not only add visual interest but also make the space feel larger.


Accessorizing for Style and Comfort

Accessories play a crucial role in elevating the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor haven. Mirrors strategically placed can create an illusion of space, reflecting light and greenery. Thoughtfully chosen lighting, such as string lights or lanterns, adds warmth for evening ambiance. Outdoor rugs not only introduce color and texture but also define different areas within your space, contributing to the overall design.


Make it green

Greenery is the soul of any outdoor space, and even the smallest areas can be transformed with the right plant selection. Opt for a mix of sizes and shapes to add depth and interest. Vertical gardens or hanging planters maximize space, while potted plants can be strategically placed to define zones. Choose plants that thrive in your local climate and require minimal maintenance for a lush and inviting atmosphere.


Avoid These Mistakes

Don't leave space empty (unless you’re going for a minimalist look); instead, infuse personality into your garden with furniture and accessories you love.
Don’t choose only tiny plants: mix plant and foliage sizes for depth perception.
Don’t forget to think about how you want to use your space: do you want to relax, entertain, cook, play with your (grand)children - tailor your garden to your lifestyle!


Case Study

A couple asked for my help to get ideas to transform this old and unused patio into a place they would want to spend time in:

It is only 2.5m wide but over 9m long, creating a long corridor effect. The first trick was to remove the planter (right photo), and then divide the space into 3 distinct zones: lounging, dining and cooking. To do that, we use outdoor rugs, different floor materials (decking tiles/pavers), large feature pots, and a raised planter box also helps to frame the lounging and separate it from the “entrance” zone.

We chose a “bohemian / romantic” style to make the patio feel warmer, cosier and welcoming. To create that look, the trick is to use natural materials and earthy tones. Part of the pavers will be replaced with wooden deck tiles, the furniture be made with pallets, wicker or rattan, the retaining wall will be painted in a sandy color, the outdoor rugs will be natural woven fibres, and we’ll add hanging plants and lighting as well.

A few other things suggested to spruce up this patio were to replace the old corrugated pergola roof with a flat clear one, declutter, remove the plants along the retaining wall which didn’t suit the style, add a mowing edge around the retaining wall to make it tidier, paint the pergola white to lighten the look of the space, but paint the fences charcoal to make them less visible and a better background for the plants…


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