How to level up any outdoor space, big or small

Your outdoor space is your own private paradise, whether you have a tiny city balcony or a sprawling backyard garden. IKEA can help you make the most of it, with simple updates, double-duty furniture, and thoughtful touches. “Your outdoor space should feel like an extension of your home, so fill it with what makes you happy,” says IKEA interior design leader Abbey Stark.

Depending on your lifestyle, this may mean focusing on bright colors and enough seating to host impromptu neighbors. Or it could mean creating the perfect oasis for solo relaxation. Remember, size doesn’t have to limit the potential of your outdoor space, thanks to IKEA’s products designed for maximum storage and flexibility.

Here, Stark shares tips and tricks for enhancing any type of outdoor space.

Choose a hero piece

IKEA

If you’re starting from scratch, Stark suggests picking a track you really love and going from there. “This helps with decision making during the design process,” she says. To narrow your choices, think about what you want your space to do most for you.

If you want to set up an outdoor dining room suitable for a dinner party, start with a Table and chair set Your friends and family will want to gather. Would you like your balcony to serve as a sunny spot for morning coffee? A cozy one chaise longue or Loveseat is a good place to start.

Consider the elements

ikea patio furniture

IKEA

Whether the weather forecast calls for rain or shine, you’re going to want it garden furniture– especially pieces that contain fabric, like sofas and chairs – to be prepared for any weather. “Look for materials and fabrics that will stand up to the elements and are easy to clean,” says Stark. “Choose pillows that are fade-resistant, water-resistant, and removable for washing.”

It can also be worth investing in covers for larger outdoor items, especially if you plan on keeping them outside year-round or preparing for a summer vacation.

keep it fresh

IKEA outdoor textiles

IKEA

“Textiles are an affordable and fun way to refresh your space annually,” says Stark. While larger pieces like tables and sofas become 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 lounge or a poolside hangout at a chic hotel — is always a winner. Pick up a few Rattan baskets to keep embroidered throw pillows and graphic print blankets, and grab some LED candles and solar powered lanterns for the ultimate mood lighting.

Literally go green

IKEA plant stand

IKEA

“In my opinion even more so Plant the better,” says Stark. “They add texture, color and life.” In choosing planterchoose a single color (like terracotta) or texture (like rattan) while varying the sizes and shapes – this way everything from a ficus tree in the corner to a hanging succulent feels like a connected green family, Stark says.

White wicker and pastel ceramic pots 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 bold colors

IKEA garden table

IKEA

An outdoor space can be a great place to experiment with vibrant colors and playful prints that you might shy away from in a living room or bedroom. Stark suggests starting from the bottom: outdoor rugs Ground your seating and dining areas and add pattern and color to your outdoor space,” she says. Or ditch the carpet and put down something super easy to install Outdoor floor coverings in a Spanish style tile pattern.

Another way to liven up your patio is to get a set of brightly colored dishes and serveware that you reserve for al fresco dining. Go for a rich turquoise or a playful pink that you might not choose for everyday indoor use. Melamine plates and trays printed with tropical birds or summery seashells are also a fun option – and they won’t break if accidentally dropped on the patio.

Be flexible

IKEA stacking chairs

IKEA

Sometimes your balcony is the place where you read and think alone, while at other times you receive family and friends. To ensure your outdoor space is truly flexible, “think about stackability and foldability,” advises Stark. So you can make the most of your outdoor space and stay tidy.

“Stackable stools are a great way to save space and can be used as a place to sit or hold a drink,” she says, while “folding dining tables are another way to save space when you’re not enjoying a meal.”

lookup

Ikea plants

IKEA

No matter the size of your outdoor space, you can make it appear bigger – and even more enclosed – by making the most of vertical space. Create a green wall with a tall shelf, or hang plants and lighting at different heights to draw the eye up and make things feel open and airy. A grid is excellent for this purpose, especially when filled with fast-growing vines with brightly colored flowers such as clematis or bougainvillea.

Need more garden inspiration? Browse IKEA’s gallery of dreamy outdoor spaces.

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