How to upgrade any outdoor space, large or small

Your outdoor space is your own private paradise, whether you have a small city balcony or a sprawling back garden. Ikea can help you make the most of it with easy updates, dual-purpose furniture, and thoughtful touches. “Your outdoor space should feel like an extension of your home, so fill it with what makes you happy,” says Abbey Stark, interior design manager at IKEA.

Depending on your lifestyle, that might mean focusing on bright colors and enough seating to accommodate impromptu hangings between neighbors. Or it could mean creating the perfect oasis for solo relaxation. The important thing to remember is that size doesn’t have to limit the potential of your outdoor area, thanks to IKEA products designed to maximize storage and flexibility.

Here, Stark shares tips and tricks for improving every type of outdoor space.

Choose a hero piece


When starting from scratch, Stark suggests picking a piece you really like and going from there. “It will help guide decision-making during the design process,” she says. To narrow down your choices, think about what you most want your space to do for you.

If you’re looking to set up an outdoor dining area ready for a dinner party, start with a table and chair set your friends and family will want to gather. Want your balcony to become a sunny spot for morning coffee? A comfortable lounge chair or loveseat is a great place to start.

Consider the elements

patio furniture ikea


Come rain or shine, you’ll want your garden furniture– especially pieces that include fabric, such as sofas and chairs – to be prepared for any type of weather. “Look for materials and fabrics that can withstand the elements and are easy to clean,” says Stark. “Select cushions that are fade and water resistant and can be removed for washing.”

It may also be worth investing in covers for larger outdoor pieces, especially if you plan to leave them outside all year round or are preparing for a summer vacation.

keep it fresh

ikea outdoor textiles


“Textiles are an affordable and fun way to refresh your space every year,” says Stark. While larger pieces like tables and sofas will be favorites year after year, you can swap out smaller accessories to instantly transform the look of your outdoor space.

A boho-chic look — think a trendy outdoor cocktail bar or a poolside lounging space at a chic hotel — is always a winner. Pick up some rattan baskets hold embroidered cushions and graphic print blankets, and grab some LED candles and solar-powered lanterns for the ultimate mood lighting setup.

Go green, literally

ikea plant stands


“In my mind, more plants the better,” Stark says. “They provide texture, color and life.” When choosing plantersopt for a single color (like terracotta) or texture (like rattan), while varying sizes and shapes – this way everything from a ficus tree in the corner to a hanging succulent will look like a cohesive green family, Stark said.

White wicker and pastel ceramic pots will give your plants a country garden aesthetic, while more rustic materials like wood and galvanized metal pair well with desert-inspired cacti and succulents.

Choose bright colors

ikea outdoor table


An outdoor space can be a great place to experiment with the kind of bright colors and playful prints you might avoid in a living room or bedroom. Stark suggests starting at the bottom: Outdoor rugs anchor your seating and dining areas while adding pattern and color to your outdoor space,” she says. Or forgo the carpet and lay down some super easy to install ones exterior flooring in a spanish style tile pattern.

Another way to brighten up your patio is to get yourself a set of brightly colored crockery and crockery that you reserve for outdoor dining. Choose a rich turquoise or a playful pink that you might not select for everyday indoor use. Melamine plates and trays printed with tropical birds or summery seashells are also a fun option, and they won’t shatter if accidentally dropped on the patio.

Be flexible

ikea stackable chairs


Sometimes your balcony can be where you go to read and reflect on your own, while other times it’s where you host family and friends. To make sure your outdoor space is truly flexible, “think stackable and collapsible,” advises Stark. This will help you make the most of your outdoor space and avoid clutter.

“Stackable stools are a great space saver and can be used as a seat or landing space for drinks,” she says, while “folding dining tables are another way to saving space when you’re not enjoying a meal”.

Look for

ikea plants


No matter the size of your outdoor space, one way to make it seem bigger and even more unified is to make the most of the vertical space. Create a green wall with a large shelf or hang plants and lights at different heights to catch the eye and keep things open and airy. A trellis is ideal for this purpose, especially when filled with fast growing vines with colorful flowers such as clematis or bougainvillea.

Need more garden inspiration? Browse IKEA’s Dream Outdoor Gallery.

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