Making the Most of a Small Alfresco Area

These days, most of us expect so much more from our backyards, and a functional outdoor space is often desired.

Apart from being a relaxing place to entertain family and friends, a well-designed outdoor area can also add appeal to your home if you ever choose to sell.

While there are many design and decorating ideas for large outdoor spaces, don’t despair if your alfresco space is limited. By following a few space maximising tips, small outdoor spaces can be transformed into something special.


The layout of your area requires a bit of thought. Take some time to work out the amount of space you would like to allocate to sitting or dining, standing room, and for design features.

For small spaces, each piece of furniture must be chosen for functionality first. If your entertaining is usually small, intimate affairs, then a compact four-seat setting may be ideal. For larger groups of people, tables, chairs and couches arranged around the edges of your space will work better.

Alternatively, a long counter surrounded with bar stools in the centre of your space will create an area for food preparation, eating and general entertaining all in the one unit.


No outdoor space is complete without a touch of personality and comfort, and this is easily achieved with weatherproof cushions and rugs. Your choices should make a big visual impact while keeping relaxation in mind.

With so many barbeque or grills on the market, choosing one for your outdoor space will be easy. Portable models like a dome top kettle are ideal for small spaces, and can be parked out of the way when not being used.

A fire pit is one of the best ways to create physical warmth and increase the ambiance of a small space. A simple support with a bowl is a great choice. It can be brought out in the cooler weather, and stored away when the weather heats up.


The right lighting can open up a space, increase the atmosphere and draw attention to an area.

Movable solar lights are a versatile and inexpensive way to give your space’s perimeter a soft glow, or for a more permanent option, built-in solar lights are ideal for highlighting a water feature or statement sculpture.

If your neighbours have a clear view of your alfresco room, consider installing one or more green walls or vertical gardens. They will provide privacy and give your space a room-like border. Keep an eye out for furniture that incorporates built-in planter boxes, as these can give small outdoor spaces a touch of nature without taking up a lot of room.


When it comes to small spaces, the biggest enemy is clutter. If you’re building in seating, ask for a design that doubles as storage boxes. Or add some shelves to existing walls or fences, and use plastic cubes to store your outdoor essential bits and pieces. Waterproof cubes with lids are the best choice.


It’s important to provide protection from the elements for your family and your guests. Simple shading choices such as insulated patio roofing will provide excellent protection from both the sun’s damaging rays and rain, and help your outdoor entertaining space maintain a comfortable temperature year-round.

With a clever design and the use of carefully chosen cushions, strategically placed lighting, and quality shelter, even the smallest space can have a big wow factor that will have your friends and family eager for an invitation to your backyard.

13 April 15