Patio Design and Layout Ideas: Advice & Inspiration

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Picture this. You move into your new home and look around at your blank walls and furniture-free spaces. You spend countless hours creating layouts and injecting your personal style into each room. When everything is done, you love the way it turned out.

Then you look out the window and realize you forgot something: your backyard, otherwise known as that portion of your home that could dearly benefit from a few stylish outdoor ideas and a lovely patio design.

Here at Hunker, we believe that the outside of your home is just as important as the inside, especially when it comes to al fresco gatherings with friends, afternoon reading sessions by the pool, and warm evenings spent making s'mores next to the fire pit.

There's no need to panic: We've got the lowdown on how to design your outdoor space with style and function. Here's what you need to know:

Backyard Layout

You know how laying out a living room can take a lot of planning and thought, so that the furniture and decor make sense? The same is true for your backyard. If you've moved into a pre-owned home, the first thing you'll do is decide what improvements can be made to your outdoor space. Should you redo the patio? Repaint the fence? Put down grass seed? Incorporate new landscaping? Once you've made a few basic upgrades, and you're starting with a clean slate, you can move onto the layout.

Next, think about the features you'll want to include. Do you desire a stone path? An outdoor kitchen? A vegetable garden? Dream a little (or a lot!) and that can drive the layout. Equally important to your backyard wish list is to ask yourself how you see yourself using the space. Do you need to carve out different zones for different activities? Will you be hosting parties or movie nights under the stars? Do you have pets or kids? Do you have a pool or plan to install one? It's your space and it needs to work for your lifestyle. Taking a little extra time to think about the function of your backyard will result in a well-rounded area that you love spending time in.

Lastly, put your outdoor ideas down on paper by making a simple sketch or plan of your backyard. See if everything you want can fit comfortably or if you need to compromise and give up a few things. Also, don't forget to imagine what your backyard will look like from inside the house. Is it pleasing to the eye from each and every window? Or, will a bush or tree be blocking your view?

Working With a Small Space

A small lot doesn't need to put the damper on your outdoor ideas — you can always come up with a patio design that still works beautifully. Although, it might mean that you need to downsize your wish list. For example, that expansive garden you envisioned could become a container garden or one that rests along your fence. The outdoor kitchen you wanted might have to become a simple barbecue grill. And you might not have room to dedicate for bocce ball and other yard games, but you can always pull out board games as you sit on your patio.

Speaking of your patio design, you surprisingly don't need a lot of real estate to create a space that feels like an outdoor living room. Simply go smaller when you choose your outdoor furniture (i.e. a loveseat instead of a sofa), utilize every nook and cranny, or just set up a bistro table for two if there's only enough room for you and your partner, bestie, or roommate.

Your small patio can also benefit from decorative touches, too. Think about elements like trellises and a vertical garden, and furniture that serves dual purposes, like an outdoor storage ottoman or bench.

Where to Shop for Backyard Essentials

Now that we've placed you on the path toward a functional outdoor design, it's time to consider furniture, decor, and lighting options that will work well in your backyard. These are some of our favorite destinations for must-have pieces to complete all of your patio design needs.

CB2

For outdoor furniture and accessories with a modern look, CB2 is our go-to. We'd gladly put their outdoor chairs and sofas in our living rooms, and the planters are some of the coolest around.

IKEA

If you don't have a huge budget for outdoor ideas, that's OK — that's what IKEA is for! Head to the Swedish retailer for outdoor dining furniture, patio umbrellas, and decorative lighting.

Urban Outfitters

You might be shocked to learn that Urban Outfitters has a wonderful selection of outdoor accoutrements perfect for your boho backyard. We can't get enough of the gorgeous woven lawn chairs and hammocks.