Well-executed small patio ideas elevate an outdoor space and make every square foot feel intentional. Whether it’s a brightly colored dinette set bringing life to a cozy backyard, a mini garden sprucing up a concrete walkway, or a dedicated hangout for the little ones, these modestly sized areas can make as big of a splash as a sprawling plot. As form and function are not mutually exclusive, let these five Domino-approved arrangements serve as a blueprint to maximize what you’re working with.
Create a Multipurpose Nook
The concrete and gravel patio at screenwriters Chiara Atik and Mark Hammer’s Los Angeles home performs double duty as a nursery for the couple’s plants and baby. After scoring a free crib from friends, they placed the bed amid the garden, then baby-proofed it by trimming the spiky agave leaves and moving the cacti out of reach. “It’s become fun, because he can hang out in there and watch what I’m doing as butterflies fly by,” says Hammer. “It’s really idyllic.”
When sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman, the founders of design studio Block Shop, entertain at their Joshua Tree home, they prefer a laid-back vibe, with a pared-down aesthetic (splashes of color in the cobalt plates and color-blocked napkins) and an invite list that includes anyone with last-minute availability. This approach extends to their small patio, a concrete rectangular layout that feels open and inviting thanks to the minimalist decor and landscaping. They planted some cacti and left the raw dirt as is instead of covering it with pavers, stones, or tiling, which perfectly ties together the organic look.
Go Bold With Color-Blocking
When Barbara Bestor and designer Cy Carter revamped TV producer Michelle Nader’s Los Angeles ranch house, they paired bright hues and neutral backdrops (adopting painter Ellsworth Kelly’s color-blocking style). The three citron-hued chairs highlight a simple gravel patio with a concrete firepit at its center.
To trick the eye and create a sense of depth, play with levels. You can take a cue from the backyard design of architects Catherine and VW Fowlkes’s Washington, D.C., home, which features two distinct setups in one: a grassy play areas for their sons and a shady nook with pea stone flooring and a mini concrete staircase that serves as a backdrop for barbecues and bonfires.
Take Advantage of Vertical Space
Whitney Leigh Morris of Small Space Style capitalized on her compact gravel patio by building a lattice vertical garden (that only set her back $200), and then chose a round bistro table to squeeze more chairs while not overcrowding the corner.