It’s getting warmer, and you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space. Congratulations! No matter if it’s a patch of grass behind your apartment or a tiny rooftop “terrace,” people are going to come over and chill (or grill) on it. So to help you trick it out with a few nice touches, we’ve reached out to some experts in the furniture and design fields to help us pick the best pieces to maximize your outdoor space.
Best outdoor chairs
“This petite outdoor dining set from Novogratz is a perfectly functional space-saving set. The colors are a dream — especially love the retro yellow.” — Kroesser + Strat, Homepolish design team
“When furnishing a limited outdoor space, it’s important to keep in mind the size of the furniture. Obviously, an Adirondack chair isn’t going to work. I like the Huron small lounge chair from West Elm. The interwoven colors on the backrest are clean and refreshing — a lighter take on the colors outdoor seating is generally available in. And depending on how small your space is, the chair’s neutral palette allows you to add fun pops of color with planters or pots (like West Elm’s Sketchbook planters).” —Ajay Chopra, founding principal, Echo Design + Architecture
“Design Within Reach has a great selection of high-quality, smaller-scale seating in classic designs that never go out of style. The Eos Collection by Matthew Hilton for Case is a great start. Using raised seating will also help you save some space.” — Mia Jung, director of interiors, Ike Kligerman Barkley
“This has clean lines, like the Wishbone chair, and is just as durable as Kartell furniture but at a fraction of the price. There’s a sculptural quality to it, and I love all the negative space — the chair is not visually intrusive when you want to admire your view.” — Ana Claudia Schultz, Homepolish designer
Best outdoor stools and poufs
“In a small space, dual-use pieces are key. This pair of pedestals is a multifunctional option — each doubles as an end table and a stool. They’re also very durable. Made from solid fiber-reinforced concrete, they will develop a patina over time, adding to their industrial look.” —Sari Ross, founder, Spaces Studio
If you’re looking to spend the bare minimum to maximize use of your small outdoor space, consider this three-piece set. The two seating poufs and matching table are suitable for all weather (so you never have to store them indoors if you don’t want to), and the table’s top opens (so you can stash stuff inside). Plus, the seating poufs are hollow underneath, making all three pieces easy to store when it comes time to pack the set up for the season (just flip one pouf over, place the table in its opening, and cover it with the second pouf).
Best outdoor planters
“Stylish storage trick: Use decorative planters. When not holding a plant, they can serve as an unexpected cooler for wine while entertaining, or as storage for less-than-lovely items such as a hose.” —Whitney van der Does, designer, One Kings Lane
This durable ceramic-and-iron planter would also look right at home on your balcony. (Its open design makes it feel like it takes up less space.)
“With more and more of us living in smaller spaces with limited outdoor areas, it’s no surprise that vertical gardens have shot up in popularity. This Vertical Garden Kit from Ferry Morse comes with a cool Scandi-chic frame and with pots, compost, and plantlings, so there’s no need to schlep to and from a garden center.” — Joanna Thornhill, interior stylist and author of My Bedroom Is an Office
Best outdoor pillows
“Pillows are an obvious way to add comfort to an outdoor space, but upholstered accessories for the outdoors can often look plain. This pillow, with its subtle embroidered details, is anything but — it looks like it could have come straight from your living-room sofa.” —Jenny Norris, Jenny J Norris Interiors
Throw these boldly striped pillows onto a small chair or stool to give your space a nautical vibe.
Or add a pop of color with this pale-yellow set.
Best outdoor rugs
“Rugs can have a totally transformative effect on your outdoor area, and the market for decorative indoor-outdoor rugs has grown massively in the past few years. I love how this overdyed, Moroccan-style rug doesn’t look like it was designed for outside use. It would work wonderfully beneath some oversize indoor-outdoor floor cushions and a couple of casual side tables.” — Joanna Thornhill, interior stylist and author of My Bedroom Is an Office
“Loloi makes great rugs, and I love the durability of this one from the In/Out Collection. It’s reversible, water-resistant, and comes in different sizes to fit a variety of spaces.” — Sari Ross, founder, Spaces Studio
“Some of us are not fortunate to have greenery in our outdoor space, especially in New York City. This rug is amusingly useful, durable, and adds some green to an otherwise concrete jungle.” — Ana Claudia Schultz, Homepolish designer
If you’re fickle, here’s something reversible.
This one’s made from recycled plastic but has a nice vintage-y look.
Best storage baskets
“A pretty basket is a great way to store extra outdoor pillows and blankets in a small space. It can fit right next to a sofa, and when styled with some of your favorite blankets, it can add a touch of warmth to an outdoor space. Having a basket full of blankets and a few pillows on your patio sets the tone for guests — they can curl up, get cozy, and stay awhile!” — Nidhi Kapur, founder and CEO, Maiden Home
[Editor’s note: We’ve written about a bunch more wicker baskets we love, here.]
Best outdoor throws
“We absolutely love using Turkish towels as outdoor throws. They’ve got a great texture, are durable and washable, and can easily move indoors during winter months.” — Kroesser + Strat, Homepolish design team
The herringbone throw has the fringe appeal of a Turkish towel but is cut in a cozy cotton blend.
You can’t go wrong with a classic Pendleton wool throw, which comes in handy on cool summer nights.
Best outdoor bar carts
“This bar cart is a fantastic addition to a small outdoor space. It gives you a spot to entertain or to set planters or lighting.” —Kroesser + Strat, Homepolish design team
This round rattan bar cart is a good space-saving option and looks as though it came from some faraway island resort.
Best sun shades
“Replace a predictable umbrella with a more unexpected sun shade (especially if a traditional outdoor umbrella doesn’t fit your space). The shade is easy to move and looks super-sleek and modern — a perfect statement piece for a small outdoor space!” — Jenny Norris, Jenny J Norris Interiors
This nifty half-umbrella can fit in smaller spaces and against walls to give your outdoor area some much-needed shade.
Best outdoor lighting
“A portable LED light that’s perfect for casting a little glow during evening cocktails outdoors. In form and function, this compact piece is perfection.” — Jenny Norris, Jenny J Norris Interiors
“Outdoor lighting is so important. String lights are amazing but can be tough to hang (especially when you don’t have a really large space or lack accessible outlets). We love this outdoor lantern, which can be charged when not in use and hung from practically anywhere or set on a table or the ground.” — Kroesser + Strat, Homepolish design team
If you do have the space and accessible outlets to hang string lights, this set from Amazon (with more than 3,000 reviews) is a good bet.
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