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A rooftop balcony showcasing how versatile small patio designs can be.

Patio Design Inspiration and Fun Ideas for Entertaining In Small Spaces

So you want to throw a backyard party, but you don’t have much space. That’s okay!

With the right patio designs and furniture arrangements, you can create a comfortable atmosphere for your guests and ensure everyone has a great time.

Here are a few tips for creating a comfortable patio layout along with inspiring backyard ideas for entertaining guests.

To help with this planning, and to save you plenty of time and energy, sketch your suggested layouts on paper to give you an idea of how the arrangements will work.

Choose A Focal Point for Your Space

The focal point on your patio will be the central spot for gathering. Decide on your ideal area and make this the heart of your patio.

Once you’ve decided on a focal point, you can build out your patio from there.

Consider Traffic Around Furniture

No matter how small your patio space is, you and your guests should be able to reach your patio furniture with ease. Think about how foot traffic will move throughout your patio.

Aim to have an unobstructed path to the patio along with space for guests to move around the primary seating area instead of through it. This way, if someone has to get up and leave, they can go around the patio furniture instead of asking people to move out of the way or squeezing past people.

Placement Options and Ideas

Consider these arrangement options for your patio furniture when working with a small space:

  • Place long patio furniture, like a loveseat or a three-seat sofa, against the longest wall (if your patio is next to a wall). You can then add a few chairs around the coffee table, so it’s easy for guests to pull up a chair.
  • Keep furniture around the perimeter of your space to open up your patio so guests won’t have to move around a large table.
  • Make it cozy—this can be as simple as two chairs and a couch in a half circle around a small table.
  • Use large pillows for seating in addition to your patio furniture. Large pillows won’t take up as much space and are easy to walk over/by. They can make the space feel more intimate and comfortable. And when you don’t need them, you can easily move them and store them away.

Entertaining in Your Space

Even with a small patio, you can still throw a fun party with several guests. Here are backyard and garden ideas to make for an enjoyable and comfortable evening outside.

Make Use of Multiple Spaces

Even if your patio is small, if you have space elsewhere, make use of it when entertaining guests. You can have separate areas with different layouts so guests won’t feel cramped. An area separate from the dining area could have a small table with refreshments and space for guests to stand and mingle.

And when you’re ready to serve a meal, your guests can sit around a patio table—preferably a round table to seat more guests in a smaller space.

Have Enough Seats for Everyone

While you might only have patio furniture to seat four, you can add blankets and cushions for seating on the ground if need be. Some guests might be happy to stand, but it’s nice to have an option to sit as well.

Set Up Lighting

As the sun sets, you’ll want ambient outdoor lighting on your patio. Outdoor lighting sets the mood and maintains safety for your guests. You don’t want someone tripping in the dark, or walking over to pet a cat that turns out to be a skunk.

Hang lanterns and string lights around your patio wherever you can—whether on tree branches, fences, or railings. If you’re using extension cords, pin these back with u-shaped pegs or tape so they won’t be a tripping hazard for your guests.


While decorative lighting might be enough for your space, considering adding other small decorative pieces, like flowers in small vases and votive candles. And if you’re having a themed party, then go all out with decorations to match the theme.

Manage Mosquitos

Mosquitos can make any outdoor party less enjoyable. So to keep mosquitos from feeding off your guests, remove any standing water in your outdoor area at least one week before your party. Standing water can be anywhere, such as in gutters, the bottoms of flowerpots, and kiddie pools.

You can also set up a small fan or two to blow mosquitos away while guests are over. And consider offering guests bug repellant wipes with picaridin instead of DEET.

Make a Music Playlist

Music always brings life to the party. So make a playlist that will last at least five hours, and that has something for everyone. Try to stick to upbeat hits. And direct the speakers away from guests’ ears—either facing the side of the house or above ear level.

Simple & Delicious

Keep food simple for outdoor parties, especially if guests won’t be sitting at a dining table to eat. Set up finger foods such as cheese plates, sandwiches, and veggie platters, or a buffet with meals that guests will only need a fork to eat.

Making the Most of Your Patio

Comfortable & Convenient Furniture

Make your patio an extension of your home by transforming your patio into an outdoor living room with comfortable patio furniture. Space permitting, consider using comfortable, cushioned chairs and sofas along with side tables, end tables, and a coffee table.

These extra tables, even if they’re small, will provide a solid surface for guests to place their food and drinks.

Non-Traditional Patio Tables

If you don’t have the space for a traditional patio table, consider using a smaller round table. Square and rectangular tables tend to break up a small area and take up more space.

And if your space is very limited, don’t even use a patio dining table. Instead, use a small coffee or side table so you can have more space for moving, standing, and comfortable seating.

Narrow Furniture

A simple patio design for very limited space uses narrow furniture—e.g., two narrow loveseats with narrow side tables. If you place this furniture across from (parallel to) each other, there should still be enough room for guests to walk through your tiny patio space.

 Small Furniture

You can elongate a small patio by using small outdoor furniture, such as small chairs and side tables along the sides of the patio.


Don’t forget to decorate your outdoor area as you would a living space. Consider using throw pillows, area rugs, greenery, and lighting to make this space feel like home.

Use an outdoor cushion storage box to store your cushions when not in use. This box will keep them clean and dry. And the box can also act as a piece of furniture on your patio.

When it comes to enjoying warm summer evenings with your friends and family, you can still have a wonderful time, no matter the size of your patio. Just keep these entertainment and patio ideas in mind so you and your guests will be comfortable in your cozy outdoor space.