HomeOutdoor Living Ideas15 Small Outdoor Space Ideas That Make a Big Impact

15 Small Outdoor Space Ideas That Make a Big Impact

March 21, 2022
Small outdoor space ideas for small outdoor space by TimberTech

Looking for small outdoor space ideas to optimize your backyard? With the right design and décor, small outdoor spaces can have just as much design impact and be just as functional as larger spaces. It all boils down to keeping things simple and optimizing the area with space-maximizing choices.

Tips for Designing Small Outdoor Spaces

When considering small outdoor space ideas, keep these things in mind to ensure you optimize your space to its greatest potential.

Deck Function

Plan your deck design and décor around its main function. Do you often have lots of friends and family over or are you more interested in an intimate space for you and your loved ones? 


Choose furniture and décor proportional to the space to keep it from feeling cluttered or crowded. Using portable, or modular pieces gives you the versatility to arrange pieces as needed.


Choose multi-functional furniture and décor to maximize your space’s functionality. Examples include storage containers that double as benches, ottomans, or even coffee tables.

Need to Visualize Your Space?

Explore templated deck plans you can customize in our 3D Deck Designer to fit your available area.

Small Outdoor Space Ideas: Get Inspired

Whether your outdoor living space is extra cozy or just big enough for a modest gathering, these small outdoor space ideas will give you the inspiration you need for your project. Be sure to keep the above tips in mind while exploring these small outdoor spaces to help you determine which ideas best suit your available space and design vision.

1.) Build a Custom Deck

A list of small outdoor space ideas wouldn’t be complete without a deck — but for smaller spaces, it’s important to get your deck design just right. Enter custom deck designs.

custom deck is a uniquely designed structure that meets your specific needs and design preferences. It often features customizations like eye-catching borders, Multi-Width Decking, or unique shapes. Working with a contractor for a custom-built deck ensures your deck is built to the right specifications for lasting performance. Get a sense of what a custom deck can give you with these examples.

Custom Deck Inspiration

Get the Starter Kit, featuring popular deck color samples and our Outdoor Living Catalog. GET STARTER KIT

2.) Keep Floorspace Open

Small outdoor space ideas include keeping floorspace open

Small outdoor space ideas should help you maximize the use of your space without causing it to feel busy or cluttered. One way to achieve this? Keep the center of your space open by arranging furniture and décor around the perimeter and in the corners of your space. Being intentional about open and occupied space will prevent your space from feeling crowded while still allowing you optimal functionality.

3.) Create Separate Spaces

If your space is large enough, you can consider small outdoor space ideas that involve creating separate spaces for different functions. Clear divisions created by your deck design, landscaping, or furniture placement can help the space feel functional without feeling crowded.

Use Splice Boards

Splice boards are those that run at an angle (often perpendicular) to the rest of your deck surface. They’re an ideal way to create attractive dimension and demarcation.

Positioning décor and furniture on each side of the splice boards reinforces the division while giving you intentional spaces with different functions.

Splice boards fro small outdoor spaces help demarcate different sections

4.) Embrace Minimalism

When it comes to small outdoor space ideas, less is more. Minimalism lends itself well to small outdoor spaces thanks to its emphasis on clean, open areas, simplicity in form and function, and little to no ornamentation.

Small outdoor space ideas for minimalist designs

Bring Minimalism Into Your Design

Embrace clean, defined lines by sticking to simple shapes such as squares and rectangles. For furniture and décor, choose pieces with simple forms, natural materials, and neutral colors for a clean, sleek look.

5.) Opt for Modular Furniture & Décor

Small outdoor spaces benefit from modular furniture

For maximum versatility and a totally curated space, opt modular furniture and décor. Modular pieces can be easily rearranged and sometimes nest inside each other for optimal flexibility and functionality. So, whether you’re hosting a small intimate gathering or a big family get-together, your space can accommodate your needs.

6.) Add a Privacy Screen

Embrace the cozy, intimate feel of small outdoor spaces with a privacy screen. Privacy screens come in many forms from lush, tall plants to solid privacy walls. Explore small outdoor space ideas featuring privacy screens to get a sense of which is best for your space.

Privacy Screen Ideas

*If building a privacy fence or trellis in place of a railing on a deck that’s 30” or higher above ground, it will need to meet local building requirements for code compliance and safety.

Explore curated deck designs in our 3D Image Gallery to further spark your creativity. EXPLORE 3D GALLERY

7.) Save Space With Built-In Deck Features

Built-in deck features give small outdoor spaces greater functionality without encroaching on the limited available space. Two popular built-in deck features include benches, which help you accommodate your guests, and planters, which give you a designated place to incorporate color and texture into your space.

Built in benches benefit small outdoor spaces

Built-In Benches

Choose built-in benches for your deck design to ensure everyone has a place to sit. Place benches around your deck’s perimeter to optimize floorspace while still providing plenty of seating.

Built in planters help you incorporate greenery into small outdoor spaces

Built-In Planters

Incorporate built-in planters in your deck design to add greenery without taking up space. Opt for compact plants such as heuchera, thyme, and ajuga, if your climate allows.

8.) Add Ambiance With Lighting

Small outdoor spaces are already intimate and romantic by nature, so why not increase the ambiance with outdoor lighting? Outdoor lighting can either be temporary, such as lanterns or string lights, or more permanent, such as built-in deck lighting in your deck surface, stairs, or railing.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Illuminate Your Deck Design

Explore your deck lighting options to provide the right ambiance for your space.

Small Outdoor Space Ideas: Bring Your Ideas to Life

Now that you’re thinking through all the ways you can optimize small outdoor spaces, you’re ready to start planning for your own project. Bring your small outdoor living space ideas to life in our 3D Deck Designer tool to help you visualize what works for your space. You’ll be able to customize your deck shape and design, as well as play around with the placement of furniture and décor to see how everything fits together.

Turn Your Deck Dream Into Design

Play with shapes, colors, lighting, and railing to bring your deck ideas to life with our custom Deck Designer tool.

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