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Patio ideas: 41 inspiring designs for outdoor paved areas

gardening etc. logo gardening etc. 5/9/2022 Holly Crossley
a building made out of stone: poolside patio with furniture from OKA © Provided by gardening etc. poolside patio with furniture from OKA

Are you on the lookout for some beautiful new patio ideas? It's always a good time to refresh your space and give it a new look.

A patio is often the epicenter of our garden – a space for alfresco entertaining, dining, lounging, or cooking. But as well as being functional, it needs to look the part. With the right accessories, color schemes, paving choices, and furniture, there are plenty of opportunities to smarten up your space and let it shine.

To help you transform a drab stretch of slabs into a welcoming zone to be proud of, we've rounded up tons of gorgeous patio ideas. Whether you have an extensive sweep of paving or a small balcony, you're bound to find an idea you love below.

41 patio ideas that will totally transform your outdoor space

From luxe looks to classic styles, there is something for gardens great and small in our edit of patio ideas.

1. Soften the scene with ornamental grasses

Want to give your paved space a contemporary look? Could it do with a bit more texture, a bit more greenery? Ornamental grasses are the solution, even when it comes to small patio ideas

These fuss-free plants will provide height, movement, and an array of verdant tones that look simply stunning when surrounding a seating area. And the best part is, some are evergreen, so they will offer visual interest to the zone all year round.

Plant up in concrete or simple timber containers for a textural contrast that offers an urban edge. Then, take a cue from this scene and pair with modern furniture in a chic gray palette, alongside a statement metal fire pit. Small coffee tables at each end will provide the perfect spot for propping a drink or a good book while you relax.

2. Create a chic drinks station

What better way to make the most of the sunshine than by hosting an alfresco drinks party with friends? A stylish setup like this is sure to impress and will serve as a practical workstation for whipping up your favorite tipples.

You don't have to buy something new – look around your home or second-hand stores, and you may just find a table or dresser that’s perfect for upcycling with a lick of paint. Then, string outdoor-suitable festoons around the structure and add a tealight or two for a magical glow as dusk falls. It’s sure to elevate your next garden party.

3. Shelter beneath a canopy of leaves

Parasols, pergolas, awnings – there are plenty of options when it comes to patio cover ideas. But if you prefer a more natural vibe, then perhaps something like this is the solution for you.

Training trees into this tabletop shape, otherwise known as 'parasol topiary', is a beautiful way to provide shade over an elegant seating space. And the view and sound of leaves rustling gently in the breeze are sure to soothe the soul.

Keep the organic vibe going by opting for natural-effect rattan furniture, soft green textiles, and perhaps a small fire table like this one for a cozy ambiance.

4. Add a pool to your patio

If you're planning a bigger project to install a backyard pool, this is the perfect opportunity to design your pool and patio space as one. 

By extending your main patio up to the edge of the pool, you'll have plenty of space for several sun loungers alongside the water, or room for a cozy lounge area where you can sit and keep an eye on the kids while they're splashing away.  

This yard repeats the same materials throughout the space (on the exterior of the hot tub, the in-ground pool walls, and the base of the pergola) to visually link the different zones and create a cohesive look. 

Want something more budget-friendly than an in-ground design for your pool? Our guide to the best above ground pools has plenty of affordable options. 

5. Mix up the materials underfoot

With so many great patio materials to choose from, why only pick one? Mixing up slabs with stones, for instance, creates an interesting finish due to the contrast in textures and hues. And it's also an easy way to zone the space.

Take this backyard, for instance. Smart white tiles surround the exterior of the home, while adjacent gravel creates a more naturalistic look, especially with the addition of architectural and drought-tolerant shrubs, grasses, and cacti.

6. Keep cozy with a cast-iron chiminea

Gathering around a fire pit, log burning brazier, chiminea, or outdoor fireplace is fun for all the family and will make your patio feel extra special. Nothing beats the crackle and pop of a real fire. 

'Fire pits are by far the most popular hardscape additions that homeowners ask for,' says Garrett Lang of Lambs Lawn Service & Landscaping. The easiest way to incorporate a fire feature into your patio is a simple fire pit, whether that's an actual pit built into your hardscaping or a large metal bowl designed to hold burning firewood. 

As well as warmth, the flickering lights will create a magical ambiance in the garden. Fires can also be used for seasonal treats such as cooking sausages on Bonfire Night, making s'mores, or warming mulled cider. 

A design like this is a great choice for modern garden ideas.

7. Or, make a statement with a built-in fireplace

If you really want to go above and beyond, you could incorporate one of the latest outdoor fireplace ideas into your space. 

In this setup, we love the way the fire is built into the rustic stone wall, helping to shelter the patio from poor weather and keep guests warm on cooler evenings. And those wall lights and lanterns only add to the cozy glow.

8. Cook up a feast in an outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular as more people find the joy in cooking beneath open skies. The ideal hub for uninterrupted entertaining, there are all kinds of setups to go for – ranging from simple grills to sleek spaces full of all the mod cons.

This sunken space comes complete with everything you could need to cook up a delicious array of treats. And the cover overhead means even a spot of rain won’t get in the way. 

Fancy transforming your patio to suit? Our outdoor kitchen ideas are full of gorgeous looks to get you inspired.

9. Opt for low-maintenance gravel for your patio

You may automatically think of paving ideas when planning a patio, but gravel can be a fantastic alternative. Budget-friendly, low-maintenance, and great for drainage, it ticks all the practicality boxes. And from an aesthetics perspective, it can look super smart and complements all types of garden styles.

It works particularly well in this country-classic space, alongside stylish chairs and a wipe-clean, glass-topped table. A climbing rose nearby finishes the scene perfectly and will provide a gorgeous summer scent.

10. Build a modern pergola for shade

If your backyard patio gets a lot of sunlight, you might want to consider a pergola to provide some much-needed shade. For the most flexibility, opt for one of the latest hi-tech pergola ideas with a motorized model that can be easily adjusted to allow different amounts of light in. 

'A pergola with pivoting louvers, that can be adjusted at the touch of a button, gives you the protection you need from sun, wind, and rain showers, not only in the summer months but all year long,' says Scott Selzer, CEO of StruXure.

Patio cover ideas such as pergolas also provide a structure for additional features like overhead lighting and ceiling fans.

11. Define your patio space with a curved wall

Give your seating space a defined edge with a stylish mid-height garden wall. Whether you go for a sleek, straight style or a soothing, curved shape, it will zone the space from the rest of your plot, adding a more structural feel. Plus, it can double up as an extra seating solution should you need it.

If a wall isn't quite right for your garden, there are lots of other patio edging ideas to choose from – how about some soft planting, or perhaps a rustic timber border?

12. Transport your backyard patio to the Med

Why jet off across the world when you can have a slice of the Med in your own backyard? Whitewashed walls, tactile textures, and plenty of potted plants will transform a lackluster courtyard ready for laid-back outdoor living. 

Bring patterned plates, bowls, and sharing platters into the mix and entertain in style. Don't forget a jug (or two) of sangria!

Although we love this rustic paving, you could style your decking to fit the theme, too. Our Mediterranean garden ideas have more inspiration.

13. Include the soothing sounds of a water feature

Most of the time, water features in a backyard are pretty large installations, whether they're a fountain, a cascade over the edge of an infinity pool, or a waterfall into a koi pond. But you can actually enjoy the delightful sounds of trickling water in small backyards, too. 

Simply install a small, self-contained water feature and you can make it the focal point of your backyard patio ideas. Alternatively, you can tuck it to the side while still enjoying its auditory benefits. Keep an eye out for birds who might visit, too.

Want to try your hand at making your own water feature? You'll find plenty of easy ways to create one in our homemade water feature ideas. 

14. Enclose your patio to make it suitable for all seasons

Extend the seasonality of your backyard patio ideas by enclosing the space to create a year-round sunroom. Use large glass doors or even retractable walls to ensure your space embodies the indoor-outdoor concept. 

If you really want to maximize a space's connection to nature, go for extensive glazing, as seen in this patio, which provides 360-degree views and all the natural light. In winter, simply close the doors and enjoy the bright and airy living space – sans cold temperatures.

Feeling inspired to create something similar? You'll find plenty of solutions for your space in our enclosed patio ideas. 

15. Up the party vibes with a bar table

A bar table like this, complete with a set of stools, is a brilliant option for laid-back entertaining with loved ones. Accessorize with plenty of hot-colored tableware, a patterned outdoor rug, and string lights overhead and you've got a space that’s fit for hosting summer get-togethers effortlessly.

Some designs even have gas fire pits in the center – the ideal focal point for keeping conversations going long into the evening.

16. Add a feature wall to zone a seating area

This patio space has tons of contemporary appeal. Ample seating space means everyone can gather around – so it's ideal for large families or if you love to entertain (or both). 

That gray backdrop with its subtle texture immediately draws the eye while wall lights will illuminate the zone below come nightfall. Sleek lines and a central fire pit add to the industrial-chic style. And, that brightly-colored cushion adds a splash of vibrancy that pops against the surrounding scheme.

17. Use a pond as a focal point for your patio

Bringing water into the heart of your backyard patio ideas can be an effective way to introduce a soothing feel to your space. Even a small pond with a mini fountain can create a lovely background noise that will be instantly calming as you relax. 

If you prefer the look of more natural backyard pond ideas, make sure you soften the surrounding patio hardscaping by including plenty of the best pond plants. A combination of ones that can be fully submerged and others that will grow happily around the edge of the water will make for an attractive feature all year round. 

18. Or, chill out with your own private sauna

Want to give your outdoor space a more Zen-like vibe? Then how about splashing out on a sauna as part of your backyard patio ideas? Sure, it’s luxurious and a bit of an investment. But, these structures are a surefire way to decrease stress and offer plenty of other health benefits, too.

You could even go a step further and add a spa to your space to go alongside. That way, you'll have the ultimate outdoor relaxation haven right on your very own plot. Our best hot tubs buying guide is a good place to start your search.

19. Illuminate a nearby tree to boost the ambiance

Every garden can benefit from fabulous patio lighting ideas, and this enchanting tree is a perfect example. Covered in twinkling lights, it adds an air of magic to an evening scene.

For smaller spaces, opt for potted trees instead. Outdoor fairy lights woven around the branches of a small bay or olive will look delightful. Flickering candles in oversized lanterns nearby will add to the romance further.

Pair with brightly-colored furniture for a contemporary vibe. This set lifts the gray stone surroundings beautifully.

20. Pair neutral tones with plenty of foliage

Turn your patio into a shaded sanctuary this summer, to escape the midday heat. Garden parasols can come in handy, but for a cool, jungle-like vibe, opt for tons of large, leafy plants.

Combine with neutral-toned furniture and textiles for a sense of sophisticated calm. Meanwhile, red-brick-style paving underfoot paired with a rattan rug will add a pleasing mix of textures to the scene.

21. Update your patio steps with a fresh new hue

If you're looking for patio ideas for garden steps, you don't necessarily need to replace what you have. Try giving them a lick of paint instead. 

This invigorating green hue makes a wonderfully bold statement. Combined with the deep navy wall behind, the look feels totally on-trend.

Accessorizing exterior walls is also a great way to put your stamp on a space. For smaller patios, try a garden mirror to make the area seem bigger.

22. Opt for patio furniture in statement shapes

Traditional styles aren't for everyone. So, if you prefer a more modern vibe, then go bold when it comes to your patio furniture. There are plenty of statement options on the market – including these eye-catching designs. 

We love the pleasingly-curved lines for their sculptural effect. Mix and match colors to add to the playful look. Add a geometric-patterned tablecloth and a vase of fresh blooms and you'll have a delightful spot to while away an afternoon.

23. Pick eco-friendly paving

We all try to be more environmentally-friendly in our day-to-day lives. So why not consider more sustainable paving options for your eco landscaping ideas

This could be by opting for natural, local stone, or using reclaimed materials. Or, look for brands which use low-carbon-footprint production methods. This paving above is sturdy, stylish, and eco-friendly – perfect for a family garden.

24. Mix up bright shades for your patio ideas

Dare to be creative when it comes to the color palette for your backyard patio ideas. A splash of lime green against deep violet and pale sage might sound like an unlikely mix, but the result feels fresh and modern. 

Paired with fuss-free paving and a sumptuous living wall, this teeny urban courtyard is transformed into a vibrant oasis. Add a vase or two of freshly cut blooms for a final flourish.

25. Or, go for subtle tones for a chic look

If you're after a more subtle approach when it comes to color, then how's this for an inspiring scene? 

There are a few clever design features at play, too. Not only is the plush sofa modular, it also transforms into a sun lounger and back again to suit your mood. And, look close enough and you'll spot the integrated ice bucket in the coffee table, for keeping all your favorite drinks perfectly chilled. 

A couple of soft-hued accessories and an outdoor rug underfoot ramp up the cozy factor and pull the whole look together beautifully. Our buying guide to the best garden rugs will help you find one for your plot.

26. Add a glamorous touch with a decorative parasol

Give more traditional patio ideas an eclectic twist with a show-stopping, hand-painted parasol. Not only does this turquoise beauty make a stunning focal point, but it also adds a spot of shelter from the midday sun.

Parasols in blush pinks, vibrant oranges, lime greens and sky blues work wonderfully with spring and summer gardens, says the team at East London Parasol Company. They can be added to a neutral plot to add a pop of color. Or, they can also be used as part of a colorful setting, where different designs, prints and hues are being used to complement each other, they continue.

Our best garden parasol buying guide has more gorgeous designs that we think you'll love.

27. Play with pinks for a boho theme

A fuchsia-hued gazebo adorned with decorative lanterns, an outdoor table brimming with beautiful accessories, masses of foliage creating a cool green backdrop – this eclectic scene is one we simply adore. 

To recreate the look, layer your patio with tons of bright textiles and playful decorations. By choosing a predominant hue (such as pink) and using other exotic tones as accents, the result will look considered rather than chaotic. It's simply perfect for lovers of bohemian garden ideas.

28. Mix and match textures for a cozy feel

This scene is full of sophistication thanks to a mix of woven materials and soft fabrics. We love how the natural tones are offset with patterned details, which draw the eye around the space. In fact, we think this style would look just as fabulous indoors.

What's more, the romantic glow from the glass hurricane lamps will look stunning as it shimmers across the nearby water – a lovely addition for your pool patio ideas.

29. Warm up with a stylish patio heater

The best patio heaters are a great way to warm your outdoor space up. Some models can be a real design feature too, as they look fantastic.

Heights can often be adjusted to suit your requirements and the freestanding ones can be moved around to direct the heat exactly where you need it. And, if space is a little tight, opt for a wall-hung version.

30. Create an indoor-outdoor link

If you're undertaking a full-blown patio makeover, consider matching the floor tiles with those in your house for a cohesive indoor-outdoor link. 

This is especially key if you've finished a kitchen extension or renovation project that's opened the house out onto the garden. Matching modern paving either side of the doorway extends your space further and creates a seamless flow.

31. Embrace summer living with on-trend accessories

Outdoor rooms are big news right now, and we love this patio living area idea. 

So for your patio ideas, invest in a comfortable outdoor sofa, add a coffee table (where else are you going to put those cocktails?), and decorate the space with all the usual accessories you'd find in an indoor living room. Think cushions, throws, rugs to pep up your patio flooring – the lot. Just make sure they're outdoor-friendly – or be prepared to bring them indoors every evening.

We like the use of potted bamboo in this scene too, for a striking dose of leafy texture.

32. Opt for a sleek white cover

As much as we love the sun, spending all day basking in its rays can be harmful. But a sleek parasol such as this will provide protection as well as a chic look for your patio.

It's also perfect for those days where you want to work on your laptop outside without having to squint at the screen. What's more, this one is surprisingly affordable – perfect if you're on the lookout for budget patio ideas.

33. Get creative with patterned tiles

We've fallen completely in love with this raised patio area. It uses tiles to add pattern and highlight the different levels of the garden. 

Patterned floor tiles, usually the reserve of a kitchen or bathroom, help make this space feel like a room of its own and give it a slightly European vibe, too. A monochrome theme, set off by lush green foliage, completes the sophisticated scheme. 

Need more flooring inspiration? Our patio paving ideas have got you covered.

34. Create inviting corners with garden lighting and comfy cushions

To make the most of your patio ideas, set up the scene for the evening as well as the day. Invest in some comfortable corner seating that doubles up as a great place to nap, string up some fairy or festoon lights, and add candles and lanterns – real or LED – for cozy mood lighting.

Then, for when the temperature cools, have plenty of cushions and throws to hand to snuggle up into.

35. Dine alfresco in style on your patio

Outdoor dining ideas are all the rage right now, and it's a trend that's only going to get bigger. So, for your patio, create a place fit for a feast with a new table and chairs setup. 

And check out that gorgeous ochre-hued wall – it adds an instant dose of sunshine to the scene, whatever the weather. Patio furniture is also a great way to add a splash of color, but if you're feeling a little less brave, channel your inner maximalist through bold patterned dinnerware instead.

36. Stage a stylish setup on a raised patio

If you're undertaking a landscaping project as part of your patio redesign, consider raising part of the plot to create a feature of the space. 

It could be used for a dining area like in the above image, a lounge area, or for your outdoor kitchen – any kind of outdoor room that would benefit from zoning in this way. Even a small step down to the rest of the garden is enough to make an impact.

37. Bring a holiday vibe to your garden

Why not theme your patio ideas to your favorite vacation spot? This setup gives us all the Ibiza vibes with its white walls and poolside-worthy lounge chairs. Plenty of greenery (including adorable hanging pots) soften the look.

If you want to recreate the scene as part of your patio ideas, our guide to the best sun loungers is a good place to start.

38. Invest in a Tuscan-inspired timber patio cover

If you prefer relaxing in the shade rather than soaking in the sun, a fully-covered patio could be perfect for you. This one combines a pared-back wooden structure against a terracotta wall, resulting in a stylish, Tuscan-inspired scene. 

Bring shade-loving plants into the scheme for extra foliage. Potted varieties will add to the indoor-outdoor feel.

39. Choose cocoon chairs

Cocoon-style egg chairs are super snug for chilly evenings and look fantastic. It's no wonder they're so on-trend. 

Alternatively, opt for armchair-style seating that's comfortable, weather-resistant and durable. Check labels thoroughly before buying though as many designs are not built to withstand a winter outdoors. Try synthetic resin as it can be left outside and there's a huge choice of sofas and armchairs, which usually come with deep cushions for added comfort.

40. Make a statement with XXL tiles

Opt for large-format tiles like these for your patio and you'll create the illusion of more space. Big tiles also add an air of luxury to a garden, and paired with sleek, stylish furniture and considered greenery – think ferns and palms – you can create a scheme that's the height of sophistication.

To keep them looking good, make sure you know how to look after their maintenance with our guide to the best patio cleaners.

41. Add a welcome glow with lights

Choose the right garden lighting ideas to bring that all-important glow to your patio.

'Warm white LEDs are the perfect way to make your patio feel warm and cozy,' says the team at Lights4fun. 'Add lights at varying heights to your space, making it come alive with a warm, ambient glow. Zig-zag fairy lights overhead and dot stylish hanging solar lanterns around your space to accentuate your twinkling fairy light canopy.

'Place small lanterns and candles on table tops and adorn flowerbeds with solar stake lights nestled between flowers and foliage,' they add.

More top tips for making a patio look nice

The experts share their advice for bringing a welcoming feel to your patio:

  1. 'Add personality to your garden by using throws and cushions on your benches and seats,' says Kelly Harvey, Buyer for Danetti. 'As well as adding to that homely feeling, it will help add extra color and feel-good factor to your space.' 
  2. 'You can also add texture with an outdoor rug which will help to create a more intimate and cozy feeling,' suggests Kelly.
  3. Use fairy lights to take your garden from day to night, Kelly continues. 'As well as being an extra source of light, it will really set the mood and create a soothing and relaxing setting with the dimly-lit glow.'
  4. Sue Jones, Co-Founder & Creative Director of OKA says, 'Treat your outside space as an extension of your home and choose a color palette for textiles – essential for cozying up but also for creating a welcoming aesthetic.'
  5. 'Twinkling candlelight is crucial for creating atmosphere,' Sue continues. Adorn all the surfaces you have with tea lights and pillar candles, and if the weather turns a little windy, then LEDs make the perfect back-up, she adds.

How should you choose furniture for a patio?

When it comes to your outdoor seating ideas, think about 'sociable shapes', suggests Kelly Harvey, Buyer for Danetti. 'Garden modular benches are great for creating an intimate social setting; modular sets are perfect for taking your garden from day to night,' she says. 'With the lightweight frame they can be moved around easily to ensure you can find the perfect spot in the garden for those lazy days in the sun with a good book, and then configure back together for an evening around the table.'

A garden corner bench is also a great alternative to dining chairs, Kelly continues. 'It can instantly create a cozy seating area in the corner of your garden or patio. It also does the job of an outdoor sofa-set as you can sit back and get unashamedly comfortable just as you would indoors, and really enjoy those long drawn out summer evenings.'

Can you build a backyard patio yourself? 

If you're handy at DIY, it should be fairly easy for you to learn how to lay a patio and save yourself some money in the process. 

As a rough guide for most DIY patio ideas, you'll need to dig down and then level off your plot where you want to lay your patio, fill it with a loose aggregate, top it with sand, and then place your hardscaping on top. You'll also want to ensure good drainage to prevent it from flooding (and then backing up against your property), which usually means creating a gentle slope away from your house. 

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