by Nina Makofsky
Just because you have a tight corner or small square of asphalt for a patio is no reason not to make the most of it. After all, decorating and furnishing your garden and patio opens up an extra living space in your home. Pick intelligently designed patio furniture that you can move around easily for quick shifts from storage to relaxing to entertaining.
Clear your space. Once everything has been moved out, take a good look at what you have. Your garden and patio may contain spaces you had previously overlooked. Consider vertical space, tight corners and wide stairs as potential areas for furnishings.
Sketch potential layouts. Try layouts that place a group of patio furniture in a corner or along a wall, but also try ones that have larger pieces -- such as a chaise lounge or a picnic bench-style table -- radiating from a corner or set in the middle of the space.
Choose furniture that stores easily. Hammocks are simple to fold up and put away when they aren't in use. Nesting tables and stacking chairs offer options for expanding the seating when necessary.
Look for trim furniture designs. Instead of a full dining set, opt for a patio umbrella placed into a weighted base and tuck it into a corner to cover a small folding table and chairs. A sail shade doesn't take up any floor space and provides all the shade that patio umbrellas do. Classic Adirondack chairs and a matching table keep a low profile. A French bistro table has a pedestal base and the accompanying chairs have skinny legs, keeping the look pared down.
Choose lightweight and flexible pieces. It's easier to move and store wicker furniture than the same size pieces made of hardwood, glass or metal. Some all-weather wicker, resin and wood tables have fold-down tabletops that can be pushed flush against a wall.
Look for pieces that suit underused areas. Try a few small stools around a chiminea or stack cushions on wide stairs for casual seating. Use your patio's vertical space by filling a wall with hanging plants and setting a line of backless stools along the wall for a rustic look.
Integrate shade and lighting. A porch swing may come with its own awning for protection against sun or light rain. A tabletop with a small fire pit offers table space plus the potential for warmth, light and ambiance.
Folding or stacking patio furniture makes storage easier.
Avoid placing open flames or high-wattage bulbs near any porch awnings or overhangs.