Above, an outdoor vignette by Brian Patrick Flynn. Though it has the luxury of space, we can still take inspiration from the focused design of the al fresco dining area. 

Not all of us are blessed with a large patio, porch, or deck. It can be challenging to outfit a small space, but it isn’t impossible. Surprisingly, a small patio can handle one or two large pieces if you decide to limit its use for either dining or just relaxing. But for maximum versatility, consider smaller-scaled pieces that won’t crowd the patio. (On a tiny patio or balcony especially, less truly is more.) No matter your decor strategy, a well-decorated outdoor area will help you get the most out of summer. Here are our favorite ideas that bring function and an element of style to your space:

For creating a “conversation” nook

Patio Conversation Collage

One of the best pieces for both a small area and a large area is a bench. It can be placed up against an outdoor wall, giving you the seating of a sofa or loveseat without sacrificing space. We love the Century Furniture Litchfield Garden Bench designed by Bunny Williams. It has a beautiful teak carved frame, and a tan and cream seat cushion that would look lovely inside your home as well. Place a coffee table in front of it to hold afternoon tea, such as the John Hutton Conservatory Outdoor Ottoman. Like the bench, this ottoman is made of teak, a material that weathers beautifully. Place a tray on top to make it a table, or use it to put your feet up. It can also serve as additional seating.

For a space-saving lounging area

Patio Lounge Collage

If you’re thinking about a lounge chair but think it takes up too much room, consider a different shape. These vintage Walter Lamb Sleigh Chairs are comfortable and attractive. They have a copper and bronze tubing and are sold in a set of two. With these Asian-Style Silvered Garden Stools placed next to the chairs, you have a place to lay your book and have created a stunning seating area.

For a compact outdoor dining space

Patio Dining Collage

For a small dining area, the Janus Et Cie Koko Dining Set is perfect. The table and four chairs are composed of bronze JANUSwood and powder-coated steel that’ll beautifully stand up to the elements. The table has a space for an outdoor umbrella, but if you don’t need the shade, take a cue from Brian Patrick Flynn’s dining table in the photo at the top of this page, and use a large arrangement as the centerpiece (which will hide the umbrella hole).

If you only need dining for two, may we suggest the Koko Tulip Dining Table and Mirthe Side Chairs by Janus Et Cie?  It has a clean-lined aesthetic that always feels modern.

The final touch: tabletop lighting

Patio Janus Lantern

Don’t forget about lighting for your evening enjoyment. After all, what could be lovelier than the glow from a tabletop lantern? The elegant Shinto San Lantern from Janus Et Cie is a sophisticated choice, with its iron body and soft white silk shade. It’s controlled by a dimmer switch, which allows you to adjust the light to suit the mood of your gathering.

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