Around the House — January 2, 2015 at 5:00 am

Decorating a Small Patio

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©istockphoto/spxChrome

©istockphoto/spxChrome

If you have a small patio, you’re not alone out there. Unless you live in a region where real estate is plentiful and inexpensive, you may be lucky to have any private outdoor space at all. Small patios don’t have to be spartan or useless. Take a few tips from the experts and start enjoying your patio year-round.

Start by completely clearing the space and cleaning all of the surfaces. Make any necessary repairs or paint touch ups. Then decide how you’ll use the space. Is it just big enough for one person to read with a cup of tea or glass of wine or do you have room for a two-person dinner or a four person cocktail party?

The most important element of your patio design is seating. If you have existing furniture in the space and it’s too big, sell it. Large furniture made for large patios will never work no matter how you arrange it. If your existing furniture is worn out, it’s time to invest in outdoor furniture that can weather the elements. Look for scaled-down furniture—or splurge on one or two full-scale pieces that are beautiful, comfortable and functional. This will be your focal point, so don’t skimp here. Also consider that a small scale hammock can hang in as little as 9 feet and is an inexpensive way to create a comfortable napping and reading niche.

Next you’ll need a table for your beverage and book, or dinner or cocktails. Make sure it’s the same scale as your chair or chairs and is no lower than hip height when seated, or within arm’s reach if using a hammock. Be creative if you like, but be sure your table can withstand the elements and will last.

Now you need somewhere to put your feet so choose a wood, PVC, rattan or outdoor-fabric covered ottoman. It doesn’t have to match your chair—in fact, mismatched furniture only lends to the cozy feel! Next, an outdoor rug is a great way to bring your space together. Choose a vibrant hue so you’ll always have color outside—even in winter. Pay attention to where the sun hits your patio during the times of day you’re most likely to use it. If you’ve got full sun in the afternoon, create shade with a triangle sail shade, or retractable awning.

Once your structure is in place, add some finishing touches. A great patio incorporates light, color, texture and sound. Your table can hold a fragrant plant like rosemary or potted miniature tea rose. Add candles, an outdoor lamp or a string of fairy lights to add sparkle and a soft throw or well-worn quilt over the back of the chair for texture. If you have wall space, hang a concrete or durable wood sculpture. For sound, add a miniature wall or floor fountain or a small wind chime.

Once you’ve incorporated all the elements of good design in miniature, be sure to carve out plenty of time to enjoy it.

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