Learn how to decorate your small patio on a budget!
These inexpensive patio ideas cover everything you need to create an outdoor oasis ... from planning to shopping to set up. Perfect for apartments and small spaces!
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If you're anything like me, you weigh many factors when choosing a place to live. Location, cost, style, size, storage, and more ... there are so many considerations.
I wasn't excited to move last summer at all (we had just moved into our Dallas loft a year before), but one thing sold me on our new place right away. It had all the necessities we were looking for, but most importantly, it had an outdoor space!
The last time I had a patio was when I lived in Chicago ... over 10 years ago. Although I love living in the city, I've been seriously coveting an outdoor space for years now. There's nothing quite like relaxing on a deck or patio after a long day, right?
How to Decorate a Small Patio on a Budget
Although I purchased a bistro dining set shortly after we moved in, it took me about a year to finishing decorating my small patio. And I did it on the cheap.
I didn't want to spend a ton of money on my apartment patio, because I know that I'll be moving eventually. Although hopefully not for a few years! I did want to make the most out of the space though, and I have some great money-saving tips that I can't wait to share with you.
If you're looking for small patio ideas on a budget or small balcony ideas, then this post is for you! Keep reading for lots of tips to help you decorate your own small patio.
Create a Plan
Like any decorating project, a successful patio makeover starts with a plan. It's important to consider the following things when designing an outdoor space:
- Budget - Before you start brainstorming patio ideas and scouring Pinterest for outdoor inspiration, create a budget. Exactly how much do you have to spend? Knowing what you can afford will help keep your plans on track. One things to keep in mind when budgeting: you don't have to purchase everything at once (save up—and add to your space—over time instead).
- Function - Once you have a budget, consider how you'll use your outdoor space. Do you want to kick up your heels and relax, enjoy meals al fresco, grow plants, or all of the above? Thinking about function will help you avoid wasting money on things you don't need.
- Style - Now that you have a budget, and you've thought about how you'll use the space, it's finally time to think about style. How do you want your outdoor patio to look? Classic, bohemian, beachy, mid-century modern, etc. Decide on the overall style before you go shopping. That way, you won't spend money on things that don't fit the look you want to achieve.
As far as my own deck, I didn't want to spend more than $200. I was mainly planning to use the space for relaxing with a glass of wine or enjoying a meal ... hopefully, while watching the sun set over Dallas! As far as style, I wanted to keep it simple and classic.
Need some patio design ideas to help determine your own style? Check out my post on decorating an outdoor space for three different decor ideas. And browse my Outdoor Decor Ideas Pinterest board, too!
Create a Floor Plan
When decorating any space, indoor or out, it's really helpful to create a floor plan.
Creating a floor plan will help you determine your space's layout. It allows you to play around with furniture and accessory placement. And it will help you decide what size furniture fits your space best.
The floor plan doesn't have to be anything fancy! Sketch it out on graph paper or use an online tool, like Homestyler. I've used Homestyler before, and I really like it, so that's what I used for my patio floor plan (see above).
A good floor plan will quickly help you see what will fit on your small patio, and perhaps more importantly, what won't! Don't make the mistake of trying to cram to much furniture into a small space. It will only end up looking cluttered.
Purchasing Outdoor Furniture and Accessories
Now for the fun part, making your purchases!
You did the hard work of creating a budget. To keep on track, determine how much you can spend on each item for your space.
For example, if you planning to buy a rug, table and chairs, and plants (like I did), figure out how much of your money will go toward each item. That way you'll avoid overspending. And if you spend a little extra on one item, you'll know that you have less to spend on another.
Where to Find Affordable Outdoor Furniture
Not sure where to find the most affordable outdoor furniture and accessories?
I've found awesome deals at Target, World Market, Amazon, HomeGoods, and similar budget-friendly stores. Thrift stores, yard/estate sales, and flea markets are another great resource, especially if you're crafty and able to fix things up. I've also found deals at grocery stores, which are often a good source for plants and smaller items. Scour your apartment for fun accessories, too. You'll want to visit plant stores, too, although you can even find plants on Amazon these days!
Check out my article on where to buy affordable furniture for more ideas on where to shop.
Decorating Your Small Outdoor Space
You've budgeted, created a floor plan, and made your purchases ... it's time to start decorating!
It's may be tempting to jump right in and start arranging your patio. Working in the following order will make the process easier and more organized though:
- Rugs and Other Flooring - Clear out your space, clean it, then position your rug or other floor exactly where you want it.
- Furniture - Arrange tables, chairs, sofas, and other furniture on your deck, repositioning them until you get the placement just right.
- Accessories - Finish by adding accessories, such as plants, pillows, candles, etc. This stuff will be in your way if added too early, so save it for last.
I love using rugs both indoors and out. They pull together a space like nothing else. I found this blue paisley rug for a steal at World Market. It's no longer available, but this cute blue rug is similar ... and honestly, I think I like it even better! They have lots of other beautiful outdoor rugs, too.
After placing my rug, I added a table and chairs. This affordable bistro set was the first thing I purchased for my small deck.
I actually got this set last year, almost as soon as I moved into the apartment, and I LOVE it! It's perfect for a small outdoor space. And unlike most bistro tables, it's actually large enough for two people to eat on.
We use this table and chairs all the time. It's easy to wipe clean, and it still looks brand new after a year of use (even after being stored outside year round). I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for balcony furniture ideas!
Black thumb be damned, I was determined to add some plants to my patio! And so far, so good ... even with lots of travel over the past month, everything is still thriving.
My previous experience with ferns didn't end well. I wanted something large and lush to fill the corners of my patio though, and I didn't have a ton of money leftover to spend. I spotted these huge ferns at Ruibal's (which is a gem of store if you live in Dallas), and I knew they'd be perfect. So far they are holding up, so cross your fingers for me!
I also purchased a couple succulents. The spiky succulent came from Target (it was already potted ... score!), and the other succulent came from Ruibal's, as well (the pot is vintage). I found the mini cactus at Whole Foods ... cute, right?
I love succulents and cacti, because they're so easy to care for. Even if you forget to water them, like me!
I placed the ferns in the corners of my patio, then added the succulents and cactus to the table. And with that, my small patio makeover was complete!
I'm really happy with how it turned out. Eventually, I'd like to get a small couch or love seat (and more plants), but for now, this warm, relaxing space makes me so happy.
The patio is right off my living room, which has a wall of windows and a sliding door.
Since the balcony is basically an extension of my living room, I kept things very symmetrical and simple. I also used colors (blue and other natural tones), that coordinate with the colors in my living room.
It helps things flow naturally from inside to outside, because there's nothing that clashes with the interior of my apartment.
One of my goals with this space was to be able to enjoy meals (or even just a glass of wine) al fresco.
Texas summers are super hot, but it's pretty breezy on our patio. It's actually quite pleasant at night (as long as you don't move around too much), and I love sitting out there.
And of course, I had to purchase a few dishes and dining accessories to go with my new outdoor patio decor! I love the affordable blue plastic dinner plates, tumblers, and silverware that I found at Target ... which is a goldmine for cute melamine dinnerware in all styles and colors by the way!
Paired with a tablecloth and napkins that I already owned, this easy table setting turned out so colorful.
I love it ... the vibrant colors brighten up the whole space!
We have great views from our patio!
From one direction, our view looks into downtown through a sea of tall buildings. In the other direction, we have a panoramic view of south Dallas. There's always something interesting to see.
And it's the perfect place to enjoy a sunset ... especially while enjoying a glass of wine.
Talk about relaxing!
Here's one more look at the before and after.
Such a big difference, right? The space is so much more pleasant to enjoy, and it's also pretty to look out on from my living room.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my apartment patio makeover, and you found some great tips for decorating your own small patio on a budget!
Let me know if you try any of these tips. I'd love to see how your space turns out!
Do you have an outdoor area you're hoping to decorate this summer?