Interior designers share 11 cheap ways to make a small outdoor space feel bigger

outdoor area with greenery, grass, and a brown table with matching chairs, all surrounded by blue walls
You can do a lot with a small outdoor space.
  • Interior designers share their top, affordable tips for making your outdoor space feel larger.
  • Hanging light fixtures and tall, colorful plants can distract the eye and draw it upward.
  • Dividing your space into distinct areas can make it feel more complete and roomy.

Colorful plants can add visual interest to your outdoor space.

An outdoor porch lined with pink and yellow flours and greenery
Plants with color can brighten and liven your space.
O de R/Shuttershock

Greenery can lend style to just about any room, but Harrison-McAllister said you can get a bit more creative with landscaping in your outdoor space.

"Colorful plants not only liven up the outdoors but also allow the eye to dance around with visual joy," Harrison-McAllister told Insider. 

With some strategic plant placement, she added, you can trick the eye to follow different seating and dining areas to make the space feel larger. 

Look for pieces that work double-duty, like multipurpose seating or tables with storage.

a barrel table with several brown stool chairs surrounding it all on outdoor, gray tile
Stools and tables can be versatile pieces.

Jessica Harris, interior designer at Living Spaces, told Insider that you can use multipurpose seating and furniture to save space. 

"A table with a hidden compartment makes it easy to stash tabletop accessories and hide them away when you need to clear the tabletop in a jiffy," Harris said. 

She added that a bright-colored stool can serve as an accent piece, additional seating, or a surface to set down a cocktail. 


Tall plants and accent pieces bring the eye upward.

An outdoor patio with fake grass, tall palm plants, and a white round seat overlooking a city view
Many outdoor spaces don't have ceilings.

Although a small outdoor space may not provide you with a lot of decorating freedom, you can often look upward for extra room.

"Tall outdoor pieces that branch out, such as outdoor umbrellas, will add height and keep the point of focus upward," Harris said.

Harris added that decor like hanging greenery in trendy macrame planters can also open up surface space and lift the eye line.

You can also give your space an artistic feel and redirect focus from the ground by layering plants of various heights, said Harrison-McAllister. 

Place your patio furniture near your plants and trees.

an outdoor deck surrounded by plants and greenery with a red seating area
This trick is both aesthetic and convenient.
Klem Mitch/Shuttershock

Harris recommended positioning your patio dining set against your greenery so that it complements the natural scenery. 

"By placing your table next to your planted flowers or trees, you save the space you would have used for planters," Harris told Insider. 

You can continue the look by adding some greenery or flowers to the table as decor.

Opt for smaller furniture pieces instead of one bulky item.

two wicker chairs with floral cushions in front of a coffee table on a porch with blue walls and wood floors
It can be better to opt for two smaller chairs instead of one large couch.
Avigator Fortuner/Shuttershock

Harris recommended buying several smaller pieces to serve the same function as a single, bulky one so you can easily arrange the furniture in a way that makes the most sense for your space.

"Play to the cozy effect of a small backyard by grouping the furniture in small circles," she told Insider. "The tighter the circle, the cozier the feel, making it easier for guests to relax and engage in conversation."

Plus you can easily reconfigure the pieces when you need more room for other events or activities.

Mirrors can open up natural spaces.

gray paneled fence with circular mirror surrounded by greenery
You can hang your mirror or buy a standing one.

Barrett Oswald, principal designer at Barrett Oswald Designs, told Insider that mirrors are a great way to make just about any small space seem larger, including outdoor ones. 

Oswald added that you can opt for a standing mirror to lean against a wall or piece of furniture, so there's no hanging necessary.

Opt for light colors and woods for outdoor furniture.

light brown outdoor wicker furniture set with red pillows and a pool in the background
Light colors will help your space feel less crowded.

When choosing the palette and pieces for your outdoor space, you should avoid dark colors and furniture, said Oswald.

The designer recommended focusing on lighter woods and materials for your outdoor furniture and opting for white or neutral cushions and accents to keep the space light and bright.

Dividing the space into distinct sections can give the illusion of more room.

outdoor dining area with white chairs flowing into living room with brown and beige seats
You can use rugs to divide the space.

Dividing your outdoor space can make it feel much larger, Harrison-McAllister said, so consider designating one section as a dining area and another as a lounge. 

Harris added that you can easily do this with outdoor rugs. 

"You can layer an outdoor rug under your furniture to help create a visual point of focus and designate one area of your backyard from another," she told Insider. 

Greenery and light fixtures are also accessible ways to divide your space.

Fill in awkward corners with attention-grabbing pieces.

outdoor space at night with string lights and an egg chair in the corner
Egg chairs can make a great addition to your space.
Olesia Bilkei/Shuttershock

Awkward corners or hard-to-access pathways often go overlooked, so make use of those spaces by adding statement pieces or decor

"Train the eye to look beyond the usual limits of your backyard by placing an attention-grabbing accent piece in those spaces," Harris said. "For example, an outdoor egg chair is a great statement piece for a corner."

You can also opt for a colorful art piece or beautiful plant.

Brighten up the area with string or accent lights.

string lights hanging in outdoor seating area and a wicker furniture set with blue cushions
String lights will also draw eyes upward.

Oswald said you can visually enlarge an area and add a cozy vibe by adding more light fixtures or string lights. 

Harrison-McAllister added that more lighting also draws the eye upward to make the space feel roomier. 

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