Making the most of a little bit of land
Living in a big city comes with many amenities but, unfortunately, an abundance of outdoor space isn’t usually one of them. Your balcony may not be big or your backyard may seem small but that doesn’t mean you can’t decorate, accessorize and, most importantly, enjoy the outdoor living space you’re lucky enough to have.
Your furniture must be functional, especially when your space is limited. Decorate a work bench with greenery that can double as a buffet for serving meals or entertaining guests. Look for coffee tables that can also be used as stools, or stools as coffee tables, to maximize the amount of seating your patio offers while also having a place to rest glasses or serve snacks.
Don’t think you have room for a fire pit and a table? Find a fire pit with a flat cover that can transform into a table when not in use. Not only is function important but multifunction will be the key to making the most of a small space.
“When choosing furniture you have to consider weather, foliage from trees, and, number one, comfort,” says Melody Li Grey of Earthformers, a landscaping company with experience in custom builds and creative property design.
Limited space, whether it’s indoors or out, means it’s essential to only include furniture that suits your needs.
“When looking to update an outdoor space the most important factor to consider is what you want to use that outdoor space for,” Grey says. “Evening relaxation, visiting with friends and family, a quiet space to curl up and read a book or firing up the barbeque and having some beers.”
If you’re not likely to need extra seating for guests, you don’t need to fit it in just because it seems expected. Instead, focus on what you will be doing when you’re outdoors and furnish accordingly. This may mean a small bistro table with two chairs for al fresco dining or working outside. Alternatively, a cozy recliner or hammock may be all the seating your space actually needs to be liveable.
If you dream of eating homegrown herbs or enjoy watching a garden grow, don’t be discouraged by a lack of outdoor availability. Go vertical with your garden without taking away precious space on your patio. A blank wall or a bare fence is the perfect canvas for creating a masterpiece of greenery – all you have to do is get creative. Attach small pots to hung wired netting, craft and hang a slim planter to perfectly fit your space, or repurpose a shipping pallet up against a wall. Lattice, ladders and bookshelves all make perfect planters for many types of gardens.
Window boxes are an easy way to include flowers in your outdoor décor without taking up coveted floor or table space. As an added bonus, they can be enjoyed from both indoors and outdoors.
“The biggest mistake that homeowners or renters often make when it comes to setting up patio or balcony is too much stuff,” says Grey. “Keep it simple. A cluttered space is not comfortable or fun to entertain guests.”
A small space doesn’t mean you should fill it with small objects. Instead, find a few key furniture pieces that will stand out and scale back on the accessories to avoid clutter and making the space feel closed in.
Have fun with the accessories you do decide to include and look for ways to incorporate your personality into your patio that is functional as well. Find a planter in a fun shape that can also double as a side table or seek out vintage decor that can act as an ottoman or a stool.
Is your space oddly shaped? Fill nooks and crannies or awkward spaces with built-in shelving or custom pieces.
Use mirrors as you would indoors and add a few to a small space to reflect the outdoor light and make your patio look bigger than it actually is.
A lack of storage doesn’t have to be an issue just because you lack an abundance of space. Look for benches and ottomans that open up to store outdoor tableware or extra blankets.
Try wall-mounted shelves, tables, or benches that can be folded down when not being used. You won’t have to sacrifice space for something that isn’t apt to be used all the time.
Make a big statement with a little bit of land by focusing on functional key pieces that let your style shine through. Breathe some life into your balcony or backyard so you can breathe in the fresh air right from where you live.