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Patio Design Ideas — Stylish Ways to Improve Any Outdoor Area

patio design ideas
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Perking up an outdoor area with patio design ideas? Get started with our helpful tips, tricks and plans that will help decide what you need from the area and how to recreate your favourite styles in your garden design.

It's important to create an inviting and interesting outdoor living space for use all year round — not just in the summertime. Let's face it, British weather is unpredictable at best so planning a place that can adapt as needed is essential. 

From small updates on a budget to a new, modern designs, we've collected some incredible projects of all shapes and sizes and detailed how to apply those ideas to any outdoor area. 

Use Patio Design Ideas to Create a Seamless Transition

small patio design ideas

(Image credit: Fraser Marr)

A simple place to start, but one that will make all the difference when the time comes to carry food and drinks from the kitchen to an outdoor area. Ensure the path from indoors to outdoors isn't an obstacle course by installing quality patio doors and a level threshold to a decked or paved area. 

This Japanese-inspired garden flawlessly blends the indoor living spaces with the small patio using bifold doors and decking which strategically draws the eye towards the garden beyond. 

For a Patio Update on a Budget, Paint Exterior Walls

patio design ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Quick and simple to achieve, painting exterior walls for a new, contemporary finish can make any outdoor space feel refreshed. 

Zone a Large Patio Area for Different Uses

garden patio design ideas

(Image credit: Nick Yarsley c/o Welsh Oak Frame)

If you have to space, a large patio stretching the length of a house is a wonderful thing. However, it is important to section the space for different uses, seating types and so on so the area doesn't feel lost or without purpose. Think about who you will be entertaining — will it be families with kids that need a safe spot away from a barbecue, or adults who want to sit around a fire or outdoor log burner for close conversation?

This self build cleverly situates an outdoor sofa next to the indoor living room and a dining area nearby the kitchen. 

Clever Patio Design Ideas Work All Year Round

small patio design ideas

(Image credit: Bridgman)

If you're self-building or extending, consider including a veranda or overhang in the design so the space can be used come rain or shine. 

Work With Your Garden to Inform a Layout

patio design ideas for small gardens

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell )

Big or small, patios and gardens all have their individual quirks that stop us from achieving the flawless finish we see in magazines and on TV. The best way to deal with a slightly imperfect garden is to use 'issues' to your advantage. For instance:

  • Sloping sites can lend themselves well to terraced sections, as in this home with an outdoor cooking space and dining table lower down, before leading out to the garden
  • Narrow patios look great with long, comfy seating and coordinated materials 
  • If your patio gets no sun, create the ultimate nighttime area with carefully considered lighting and a patio heater — and even an outdoor bar

Flooring is Key to a Great Patio Design Idea 

patio design ideas with pavers

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Porcelain tiles, polished concrete slabs and of course, decking are all great choices for outdoor patio areas as they're easy to clean and hardwearing. For extra wow-factor, match flooring inside and outside the house with flagstones, treated timber and tiles. 

(MORE: Keep your patio clean with the best pressure washers)

Install a Pergola for an Elegant Patio Design Idea

garden patio design ideas

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Patios with pergolas look endlessly stylish. While they can also be used to string up solar string lights or for climbing plants to scale, building a timber structure cleverly shields patios from too much direct sun without putting users in shade.  

Ideas to Make the Most of Small Patio Design

small patio design ideas

(Image credit: Malcom Menzies)

For small patio design ideas, be sure to take a look at hidden storage benches (as in this house extension) and crucially, blending indoor and outdoor spaces. 

This home included a picture window that can be used as an extra seat from inside and large sliding patio doors so people indoors feel connected to events and conversation outside without being crammed in.

Amy Reeves

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.