How to Choose the Right Furniture for Your Small Outdoor Space

You may think you don’t have enough space to create an outdoor oasis, but, trust me, you do. I’ve created beautiful, Zen-like spots in everything from a tiny deck to the patio of a small cottage garden.

Having even a sliver of a spot to get out of the house and breathe the air can help you de-stress and unwind from your busy life.

But compact outdoor furniture pieces aren’t limited to just small spaces. You may have a larger outdoor area that you want to group into different gathering spots for different sized groups, so your intimate dinner for two isn’t overwhelmed by a table made for eight.

A seating arrangement in the small back garden of a townhouse.

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Of course, furniture isn’t the only element that’s important in creating the right outdoor atmosphere. However, because it will take up the most space, it should be one of your first considerations.

Then, you can start adding the accents.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start by taking a look at what types of small patio furniture are available, along with some of our favorite items in those categories that might work for you.

But before you get out your credit card, here are some planning tips to ensure you know which furniture will fit your space – and your style!

Planning Guide for Small Outdoor Spaces

Individual Chairs

Even the smallest deck or patio can probably fit in a chair or two. If your area is very small, folding or stacking chairs can be tucked out of the way when they’re not in use, making them a good-space saving option.

Stacking Chairs

Most stacking chairs are made from cheap-looking plastic that is more reminiscent of campouts than chic layouts, but the Minna Stacking Patio Dining Chair is an exception.

Minna Stacking Patio Dining Chair in white on a white, isolated background.

Minna Stacking Patio Dining Chair in White

These attractive, metal chairs measure just 32.75 (h) by 24 (d) by 21 (w) inches. And, of course, you can stack them when not in use.

The Minna Chairs come in five colors: gold, gray, red, blue, and white. The design is a delight, described as “rain flower” by the manufacturer, and that is sort of what it evokes: a sea of small petals dappled by rain.

Minna Stacking Patio Dining Chair in red on a white, isolated background.

Minna Stacking Patio Dining Chair in Red

Owners say they are both beautiful and comfortable, and seem sturdy in spite of weighing just shy of 7 pounds each. And they support up to 300 pounds.

There is no specific warranty, but Wayfair covers them with their 30-day return policy.

Get the details on Wayfair now.

Folding Chairs

Folding chairs are another nice choice for a small outdoor area if you want something you can set aside when not in use, but, as with stacking chairs, you don’t want them to look cheap and tacky.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Rocker in white with optional folding side table in backyard patio setting.

With Plow & Hearth’s exclusive Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Rocker that will not be an issue.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Rocker in brown on a white, isolated background.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Rocker in Brown

The sleek, modern lines of this folding rocking chair add a classy vibe to any space. It’s made from eucalyptus and resin wicker, and holds up very well even when left out year-round, owners say. The chair is available in in black, brown, and ivory.

While the fold is the big story here, it won’t take up much space when unfolded, either, measuring 33.5 (l) by 25.5 (w) by 39.25 (h) inches. Each chair holds up to 250 pounds.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Side Table in Ivory on a white, isolated background.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Side Table in Ivory

You can purchase these chairs individually and add the Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Side Table (also available in black, brown, and ivory) to have a convenient place to set your drink.

Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor Furniture, Two Rockers and Side Table in white on a stone tiled porch.

Or, if you have a bit more space, Claytor sells a three-piece set that includes two chairs and the side table.

Side Tables

Personally, I can’t imagine sitting in a lovely outdoor setting without a refreshing beverage (ok, wine).

Mallory Folding Wood Side Table in an outdoor room.

The Mallory Folding Wood Side Table isn’t just a super cute solution to the “where do I put my drink problem.” It’s also something you can use as a decorative stand in its own right, perhaps for a container plant or cute garden art.

These small, round side tables come in 14 colors, so you can match one (or more) to your existing decor, or add a pop of color to a neutral patio set.

Mallory Folding Wood Side Table in Tomato Red on a white, isolated background.

Mallory Folding Wood Side Table in Tomato Red

They’re made of cedar wood and fold completely flat so you can even store them under a bed. They measure 19.5 (h) by 19 (l) by x 19 (w) inches when open. Folded, they measure 26 (h) by 19 (l) by x 2.75 (w) inches. They weigh 7 pounds.

The tables include a one-year warranty.

Check prices and read customer reviews on Wayfair now.

Conversation Sets

Conversation sets are meant to create an intimate grouping, with two or more chairs that include a side table that is end-table height, as opposed to eating-table height (the latter are bistro sets, which we discuss below).

Very comfortable and very affordable, the Shultz Outdoor 3 Piece Conversation Set, would be a great fit anywhere, but we like the idea of placing them on the porch, where you can rock and talk and watch the neighborhood just like in the olden days.

Shultz Outdoor 3 Piece Conversation Set setting on stone pavers in a backyard setting.

But there’s nothing olden-day looking about these chairs. Made of weather-resistant mesh polyester on a sturdy metal frame, their clean lines and neutral gray or cream colors (available in both colors) will fit any decor. The included table is metal with a glass top.

Owners rave about how comfortable these are to sit in. The rope suspension system conforms to your weight and shape, and there’s a comfortable headrest and good lumbar support. And the fact that they rock just adds to that soothing vibe.

Shultz Outdoor 3 Piece Conversation Set in cream white.

Shultz Outdoor 3 Piece Conversation Set in Cream White

The chairs measure 41.75 (h) by 26.75 (w) by 35.5 (d) inches and the table is 19.75 (h) by 17.75 (l) by 17.75 (w) inches. All pieces fold for easy storage, or so you can take them with you on a picnic, camping, or tailgating. The upper weight capacity is 265 pounds.

Find more details and prices on Wayfair now.

If you prefer something more patio-furniture-traditional-looking, the Wicker Patio Furniture Set with Cushions by Plow & Hearth is a very attractive set with a clever design.

Wicker Patio Furniture Set with Cushions on a stone patio.

It’s a 5-piece set that includes a table and two chairs with ottomans – but the ottomans tuck under the chairs so you can keep them stored when not in use – a particularly handy feature in a small space. Both the chair and ottomans are cushioned.

This is also a sturdy set; metal frames wrapped in resin wicker. The wicker is brown, and the polyester, weather-resistant cushions are terra cotta in color (but are also described as paprika by the manufacturer).

Plow and Earth Wicker Patio Furniture Set on a tiled and brick backyard patio.

The chairs measure 26.75 (l) by 28.5 (w) by 32. 25 (h); the ottomans are 18.75 (l) by 18.25 (w) by 12.75 (h); the table is 19.24 inches tall with an 18 inch diameter. Each chair can hold up to 225 pounds.

Plow & Hearth covers these with a 30-day return policy and a one-year warranty against defects.

Check prices and more details on Plow & Hearth now.

Small Dining Sets

There’s nothing more pleasant than dining al fresco, and you can do that even on the tiniest of balconies. Or, if you have a little nook in your garden where you’d like to enjoy drinks and appetizers, you can tuck one of these sets almost anywhere.

Sunjoy Vinely Black Cast Iron and Cast Aluminum Bistro Set

The Sunjoy Vinely Bistro Set (via Amazon) has a very traditional “bistro” look, evoking lazy afternoons sipping wine outside a lovely cafe on a cobbled French street.

That’s because of its “vinely” styling, crafted with a motif of intertwined vines and leaves.

This is a particularly good choice if you have a very small seating area, such as a condo or apartment deck, as the table measures just 24 inches in diameter, while the chairs are 19.29 (d) by 14.57 (w) by 33.86 (h) inches. The chairs have an upper weight capacity of 200 pounds.

The set is made of black aluminum and cast iron, and owners say it feels very sturdy in spite of its relatively low price compared to similar products. The table and each chair weigh just under 10 pounds each. It carries a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

If you have a bit more room, and prefer something with a bit more cushioning as well, you might want to check out the Sousa 3-Piece Bistro Set.

It’s made from brown wicker and includes beige, water-resistant cushions that owners say are very comfortable, even for long periods of sitting and chatting.

The wicker table is eating-height and is 26 inches in diameter. Each chair measures 33 (h) by 23.25 (w) by 23.5 (d) inches and has an upper weight capacity of 250 pounds.

This set comes with a 90-day warranty.

Most small decks on condos and apartments have at least some type of railing or wall. If yours is solid, you can improve your view with the Ventura Dartmoor 3 Piece Bar Height Dining Set.

Also called pub-height, these chairs are 49 inches tall, but still have a relatively small footprint at 22 by 18 inches wide. The table is 43 (h) by 24 (w) by 24 (l). The upper weight capacity of the chairs is 220 pounds.

Dartmoor Outdoor 3-Piece Wood Bar Set with Bar Table and 2 Bar Chairs

This is a nice-looking set, with a clean, ladder-back design that evokes the Craftsman era. It’s made of eucalyptus wood with a cherry finish. The manufacturer recommends oiling the wood occasionally to maintain its finish.

It includes a one-year warranty and is available on Amazon.

Small Sofas

Outdoor sofas can help you create a cozy, comfortable set up, much like an indoor sofa does in your indoor living areas. Look for slim designs that you can tuck up against a wall or railing.

The Giantex Outdoor Patio Glider Loveseat (via Amazon) is a sturdy, comfortable choice that seats two people, holds up to 500 pounds total, and won’t take up much real estate.

Giantex Outdoor Patio Rocking Bench Cushioned Glider Loveseat

It measures 47.5 (l) by 29.1 (w) by 33.9 (h) inches. The cushions are nearly 4 inches thick.

The frame of the glider is brown steel, and the beige cushions are a weather resistant polyester.

Giantex 2 Pcs Patio Outdoor LoveSeat and Coffee Table Set with Cushion

If you have a bit more space, you can also purchase this love seat with a coffee table.

These items come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

For a deck or patio area that’s longer and narrower, the McClellan Outdoor Patio Sofa with Cushions  is a cool-looking sofa that seats three.

McClellan Outdoor Patio Sofa with Cushions in a backyard setting.

McClellan Outdoor Patio Sofa with Cushions

And we mean cool – its minimalist lines and piped cushions give it an almost nautical flair – especially if you choose the navy blue cushions. They also come in red and beige.

It measures 35.5 (h) by 60 (w) by 21.5 (d) inches. The frame is white steel and the 5-inch-thick cushions are weather-resistant polyester.

This product includes a one-year warranty.

Check prices and read customer reviews on Wayfair now.

Planning Guide for Small Outdoor Spaces

Determine Your Needs

The first thing you need to do when planning your layout, whether it’s because you have limited space on a deck or patio or because you want to create a small grouping in a specific area, is to decide how you want to use that spot.

Just sitting and reading or enjoying the sun don’t need much more than a chair (or two) and maybe a table.

If you want to entertain, say drinks and appys, you’ll need to consider groupings that include two or more chairs and a table to hold glasses and plates.

For dining al fresco, an eating-height table is a must.

Measure Your Space

Just as important is getting exact measurements so you know what you can fit in the available space.

This is crucial if your square footage is very limited, because you not only need to know what will fit, but also what will fit and still allow you to move between the furniture.

That is where furniture that folds or stacks can come in handy. You can move it out of the way when it’s not in use to save space, but still have seating when friends come over. Sure, it might be a bit tight then, but intimate gatherings make for great conversations.

Make A Plan

Once you know how you want to use your space and how much space you specifically have, it’s time to develop your bigger vision.

First, start by drawing up a simple layout, graph paper is great for this because you can draw to scale.

As you shop, add shapes into that blueprint to see how everything fits in the great scheme of things.

That way you’ll know, for example, if you have a longer, narrower space, if you can fit a narrow sofa along a wall and still have a spot for a side table and chair or two.

And, as we noted previously, flow is important if you don’t plan to buy furniture that you only take out when you need it.

Other Small Space Accents

Once you have everything in place, you can start adding accents, like patio umbrellas.

You might think you can’t fit one in, but, in fact, they come in all sizes. One of our favorites is the cleverly designed Sheehan Market Umbrella. It has a half-canopy that’s a great, compact choice for small balconies and comes in five colors. We review that, and other small umbrellas, in more detail in our roundup of the 7 Best Patio Umbrellas.

Sheehan Market Umbrella on a white, isolated background.

Sheehan Market Umbrella via Wayfair

And, for a pop of color that takes up no space at all, and can really add interest to any furniture grouping, check out our suggestions for the best outdoor carpets (tk).

The Right Furniture Brings Indoor Comfort Outdoors

We decorate and furnish our homes with the intent of creating maximum comfort for whatever it is we need – a cozy conversation spot, a grouping for playing games, or the perfect family movie night area.

A seating arrangement in the small back garden of a townhouse.

Our outdoor seating areas should be no different, no matter how much space you have to work with.

With the right planning and careful measurements, even the tiniest balcony can feel like a big getaway.

Have you ever had to deal with the challenges of decorating a small outdoor space? Tell us how you handled it in the comments section.

Product photos via Zipcode Design, Plow & Hearth, August Grove, Freeport Park, Sunjoy, Vifah, Giantex, Bayou Breeze,  and Beachcrest Home. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

Photo of author
Kelly Burgess is a product review specialist who loves food, kitchen gadgets, gardening, and writing. She was born and raised in Southern California, raised her kids in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and three cats. When she’s not cooking, eating or writing, Kelly likes to read, hang out with friends, hike, and explore the great Northwest.
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