We've rounded up 50 striking patio ideas to get you ready for a spring refresh.
Now is the perfect time to spruce up your patio in time for the warmer months ahead. It's one of those small garden ideas that can make a big difference to a little space.
Patio gardens have the benefit of being relatively low-maintenance compared with other garden designs, meaning that it can be enjoyed year-round and not just in the summer. So why not create a patio you'll enjoy the whole year round? Invest in a warming fire pit or heater lamp, or build a gorgeous brick fireplace or pizza oven. Aside from creating a cosy focal point and an area for enjoying cooler summer evenings, they'll also allow you to use the patio space during cooler spring and autumn months. With the British weather being notoriously unpredictable, it's worth creating some covered areas too, for example a traditional awning or canopy.
Make your patio garden a space you'll love to spend time in, whether that means lazing in a hammock or swing chair, sunbathing on a lounger, planting a vegetable patch (one of the biggest gardening trends we'll have you know), or enjoying a glass of rose in the late afternoon sun.
For extra style points, layer a patio over different heights to create interest and intrigue. Built-in wall-mounted bench seating will maximise floor space. Add custom-made cushion pads in bright colours and patterns to add instant pizazz.
Tiling the floor or the walls provides another opportunity to introduce colour or funky pattern. To blur the boundaries between indoors and out, continue the same flooring you have inside out onto the patio too.
Soft weather-proof furniture will transform a patio into an outdoor living room. Add an over sized lamp like a classic Anglepoise or the Twiggy design from Christopher Wray for an eye-catching scheme.
Got a small patio? One of the best patio ideas for small spaces is to plant up: invest in a striking living wall, or create a low-maintenance alternative by planting climbing plants or trailing plants. Fast-growing plants like bamboo and grasses in a narrow planter box against the wall can also create a wall of green without taking up too much space.
Water features have also surged in popularity over the past year, and there are plenty of affordable options out there. Aside from the soothing trickle background sound they make, they're eye catching focal points too, and add interest to a patio garden.
Ready to get inspired? Here are 50 stunning patio ideas to transform your patio garden into a dreamy outdoor oasis...
1. Consider a tiled patio floor
In this courtyard garden, designed by Barbara Samitier, the bespoke Bauhaus-inspired tiles create a party vibe and distract the eye from the boundaries, making the space appear bigger. A chic black unit creates a practical workstation, while a bistro-style table and chairs would complete the look. They can be easily set to one side when more space is needed.
2. Blur the indoors and out with a continuous scheme
Clad in zellige tiles, this kitchen dining area focuses on a cantilevered table that continues through the bifold window to the terrace outside. The tiled bench also starts indoors, and continues out onto the patio garden.
3. Let light into the basement level with a striking sloped display
This garden is cleverly arranged over two levels, with the patio area at the top, and a landscaped slope stretching down to the basement level to let in natural light. Nestled in between the step planters is a a cascading waterfall, that ends in a small rock garden at the bottom. A thousand times more interesting than a plain light-well.
4. Tile the walls to give your garden a clean, glossy and colourful look
It may be set in a lush and lovely garden, but this inspiring outdoor living space could just as well have been created indoors. The metro tiled wall makes this a clean, glossy and colourful space, and is a modern twist on traditional brick.
With its layers of textured tiles and fabulous finishes, it’s a great example of how to mix colours and patterns whatever their setting.
5. Mix materials for an interesting and balanced scheme
This small garden space feels calm and soothing, with clean stone flooring, bedded plants, exposed brickwork and sleek, slatted wood fencing.
6. Paint your patio walls a bright and unexpected colour
A patio with a turquoise wall draws the eye out to the back and making the space appear larger. A pop of vibrant colour adds interest even in the middle of winter.
7. Create a designer look with built-in banquette seating
Similarly to the previous example, plants sit on a raised level, with a sunken level for seating. Built-in banquette seating is the piece de resistance, with chic striped upholstery. Featuring lush evergreens, meaning that the space is green all year round, the plants have been arranged in such a way as to appear wild and spontaneous.
If built-in isn't an option, find alternatives in our guide to the best garden furniture.
8. Invest in a statement outdoor fireplace
This cool fire feature is particularly dramatic, set inside a concrete column on the patio.
9. Break up a tall wall with tiered seating
Tiered seating draws the eye up, breaks up a tall space, provides additional seating and makes the most of garden views.
10. Install an outdoor kitchen for al-fresco dining and summer entertaining
The tiled outdoor terraces also features an outdoor kitchen, complete with sink, fridge, barbecue and pizza oven.
11. Add character and charm with reclaimed vintage tiles
A tiled floor adds instant colour to this patio garden. Design studio Guta Louro gave the unloved patio space a simple refresh, opting for marble-top tables and bright patterned cushions that complement the tiled floor.
12. Invest in garden spotlights to illuminate and add drama
The modernist-inspired granite and glass-tiled waterfall in this small urban garden creates a bold streamlined statement. Designer Amir Schlezinger has used spotlights to create dramatic shadows as evening falls, while a bench with a lit cavity echoes the fireplace in the adjacent living room. Raised beds double as impromptu seating and the hardwood flooring creates a seamless flow between indoors and out.
13. Draw the eye out with a seamless transition
Both the wood flooring and the living wall continue from the inside out, providing a flow and a connection between the spaces. Inside, the living wall is illuminated with spotlights in the floor, while outside uplighters bring out the plants as well as the smart pond feature that's built into the patio floor.
The only thing that could have made this even better is if the pond also started indoors and continued through the glass doors out into the patio garden.
14. Give an unused wall a built-in fireplace to create a cosy focal point
This integrated fireplace is guaranteed to take off the evening chill, while its minimalist Corten steel surround makes a stylish focal point – day or night. Install the fireplace in a boundary wall or, in a larger garden, enclose your seating and dining area with a freestanding screen, such as this one from WWOO’s modular system. And burn only low-emission dry wood or manufactured solid fuels.
15. For larger gardens, create small and cosy nooks
This stunning coastal home features lots of separate outdoor patio spaces, each one with a different purpose or function. There's a covered area outside the kitchen for morning coffees, a more impressive al-fresco dining set-up elsewhere, there are sun loungers in spots that catch the most sun, but our favourite? This cosy corner where a change in level creates a rounded pocket of space to retreat to for cosy evenings.
Whether you're able to build an outdoor fireplace, a pizza over or a fire pit, an open fire creates a focal point and a cosy area for socialising on cooler evenings.
16. Turn your garden into a peaceful retreat with a water feature
In this small, quiet garden designed by Katharine Pooley, a wall fountain makes a gorgeous feature without taking up too much space. It means there's always the soothing of trickling water in the background, soothing the senses and blocking out other noise.
17. Max out on the latest home tech – like an outdoor cinema
Cottage-style planting softens state-of-the-art technology in this garden by Hay Joung Hwang. A sunken seating area creates an enclave, transformed by lights into a starry stage set at night. Sally Storey of John Cullen says, ‘Light key features, such as trees, to show off their textures and colours, and also steps to guide you safely.’
There's even a wall-mounted flat screen TV under a nearby covered porch area, offering an outdoor cinema vibe – perfect for sporting events or movie nights.
18. Divide two zones with an arch
This sophisticated London garden has been divided into different zones; a patio for alfresco dining, with an arch leading to a relaxed lounge area at the back.
19. Install striking modern sculpture for a contemporary look
Taking the outdoor fire idea up a notch, Wendell Burnette Architects created this striking fire feature for their Desert Courtyard House project in Arizona.
20. Play with shade and sunlight
A break in the ceiling casts a spotlight over this al fresco breakfast spot, so you can enjoy the sunshine over your morning coffee and the newspaper.
21. Opt for durable materials for fuss-free maintenance
Create the perfect setting on your terrace with lightweight seating that combines comfort with style, a pergola with a flexible retractable canopy and cement-effect porcelain tile flooring. Made from natural and recycled materials, these stain- and scratch-resistant tiles are now the favourites of top garden designers.
22. Introduce more unexpected lighting – like outdoor pendants
Chic and comfortable weatherproof furnishings allow you to recreate your dining room in the garden. Here, landscape architect Stefano Marinaz has enhanced the inside-out look with iroko and bronze-clad fencing panels for a textured wallpaper effect. Pendant lights create just the right night-time ambience, while matching cushions unify the design.
23. Got a basement level? Incorporate glass skylights in the flooring
Glass panels built into the garden decking let in light to the basement below. A fire pit acts as the focal point in this garden, with lounge seating facing towards it. This generously planted space provides a sense of nature and privacy in a busy district. Sleek light wells built into the wooden flooring channel extra daylight into the ground floor below.
24. Welcome the rewilding trend
Free-flowing plants tap into this year's re-wilding trend, giving this sleek, minimalist patio a more relaxed, informal feel.
25. Introduce modern, asymmetrical lines
Asymmetrical lines create a more interesting look in this Victorian terrace garden in London. Contrasting materials – a cork wall and dog bed, a concrete patio, a gravel path, wood planter boxes and a grassy patch – all add interest and intrigue in this small urban space.
26. Give your patio loose, spaced paving to allow nature to flourish
Hardscaping is becoming greener with crazy paving or spaced pavers that allow rainwater to seep into the ground rather than run off into drains. In a small urban garden, designer Stuart Craine used spaced concrete beams to create a path that allows plants, such as mind-your-own-business to creep into the crevices. This looser approach to paving softens the look of a path, creates better drainage and provides habitats for wildlife, too.
27. Max out a small space with tiles, blackboard paint, festoon lighting and a hammock
This small garden is only a small space, but the tiled wall adds a fun atmosphere, plus the blackboard is fun for the kids and in the summer, the owners hang a hammock here.
28. Create a layered look with levels
A layered garden spread over different heights helps to create interest and a layered look that draws the eye out. We particularly love the built-in banquette seating that frees up floor space and maximises the patio area.
29. Add interest to a small patio through lighting, levels and water
An open fire with a traditional mantel and over-mantel mirror, plus two illuminated water features both at different heights all add interest to this tiny London patio garden.
30. Inject instant colour through glossy wall tiles
Gloss teal tiles add shiny colour, create a clean look and bounce light around this patio space. See more of the designer's work at kingstonlaffertydesign.com
31. Go all-out for a colour scheme
Walls are getting punchy thanks to sophisticated renders. Deep colours can bring drama to outdoor spaces like this Sao Paolo patio garden owned by set designer Michell Lott, which is featured in the book Plant Tribe (£25, Abrams). The plum wall works brilliantly with the burgundies and purples of the plants, which include Euphorbia cotinifolia, dark philodendrons, begonias and coleus.
32. Create different zones or 'rooms' in the garden
The Dutch are known to create different 'rooms' in their gardens, and this approach works well in this English garden too. A living area further back helps to draw the eye further out, and makes better use of the space. It would have been tempting to place the outdoor furniture directly outside the back doors for ease, but the garden space would have gone to waste. Now the outdoor space becomes a separate retreat.
33. Low-maintenance can still look chic
This Mediterranean-inspired patio is easy to keep clean and chic all year long, with potted trees and boxus balls, but no grass or other plants to worry about.
34. Give a patio a cobbled stone floor for a traditional look
Stone blocks create a more traditional look in this gorgeous English garden.
35. Experiment with modern furniture
When shopping for the best garden furniture don't be afraid to explore unusual materials. Here a concrete table and bench seats offer an eye-catching contrast to this patio's warm wood decking. Find more inspiration on our modern outdoor furniture ideas page.
36. Create an outdoor living room with soft, upholstered furniture
Modern, weather-proof furniture from Ligne Rosset transforms this small patio into an outdoor living room.
37. Add an oversized Anglepoise for a playful look
An oversized Anglepoise floor lamp offers a pop of colour in this London garden.
38. Or add modern drama with an oversized arched floor lamp
The oversized Twiggy Floor Lamp from Christopher Wray creates instant wow-factor in this grand patio.
39. Contrast wild spaces with minimalist design
A minimalist bench by Feldman Architecture in California frames a modern patio, firepit and stunning views over the Sonoma wine country.
40. Add greenery to compact spaces by planting along the walls
Short on floor space? Plant up. Living walls aren't going out of style any time soon. For a cheaper, low-maintenance alternative, you could add vertical greenery by using climbing plants, trailing plants or planting fast-growing plants like tall grasses and bamboo.
41. Create a permanent alfresco dining spot
A modern outdoor dining set lends a fresh, inviting feel to this patio garden.
42. Tiered layers offer additional seating for summer entertaining
Lounge seating rests against tiered planters, creating comfy seating as well as plenty of greenery.
43. Frame banquette seating with built-in planters
Chic banquette seating fits into these built-in planter boxes, so you can sit nestled in between the flowers while also freeing up floor space.
44. DIY wood block seating
The same is achieved here but by using wood blocks – easy to build at home yourself without the need for an expensive landscaper or garden designer.
45. Create a recessed seating area for a cosy and cocooned space
This cosy seating nook is cleverly hidden from the main patio area, as it sits just a few steps lower. This creates a cocooned and cosy feel, a perfect garden escape.
46. Introduce a semi-circular seating area
This stunning property designed by Khosla Associates features a beautiful U-shaped wooden bench that's built into a stone wall, creating an inviting spot to socialise.
47. Use materials to create a feature wall
A vibrant feature wall at the Bacoc Hacienda in Mexico, designed by Reyes Ríos + Larraín Arquitectos, creates a warm contrast against the modern concrete main house.
The warm clay works beautifully with the light – but other materials you could experiment with include moss, cement, wood cladding, or tiles to name a few.
48. Use poured concrete flooring
Poured concrete patios at different levels make the most of a sloped garden. The poured concrete also creates an interesting contrast to the wood decking areas.
49. Brick flooring creates a more classic backdrop
A brick patio creates a traditional, but clean look.
50. Complement a coastal setting with an all-white scheme
Architect Michaelis Boyd used white weather-proof furniture to match his all-white Cornish home.
Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.
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