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Fun patio upgrades

During the warm summer months, we tend to spend a lot more time outside. Creating an outdoor area rich in ambiance and cozy enough for everyday life will encourage you to spend more time outside your home’s walls. For those of you seeking inspiration to spruce up your small patio or balcony space, I have some fabulous design tips to help you get started. 

First, how do you want to use your space? Lounging with friends, or dinner around a table with family? In this design, I opted for a living style hangout area, where I could sun on the sofa when I need to relax, but also have enough seating available for entertaining friends.

Always keep sizing in mind, especially in a small space. I chose to go with small profile L-shape sofa with lower backs so that I didn’t close in the space or make it seem cramped. This one in neutral grey and tan hues is from Homesense and can be updated with accent pieces for many years to come. Adding in accent chairs and a small bistro table not only added interest, but created different zones within the space. Finally, a great bar cart, also from Homesence, is a must for summer parties and entertaining.

When you have a balcony in the city, privacy is always an issue. I created a modern free standing privacy fence with boards from Lowe’s.  I installed the boards horizontally to save on wood while creating a more urban modern look, which is a continuation from the inside to the outside.

I ended up mixing faux and real greenery for easy care. If you have trouble keeping plants alive, switch to faux. If you have a green thumb, go real/living all the way, but if that’s not you, go faux. Great new faux options have all the splendor of living plants and offer a green, lush looking patio, without any of the work. Alternate planter heights add to the beauty and draw of the space.

While an umbrella has the added bonus of blocking out the sun, this one was chosen to block the view of the neighbours above me. This takes away that “fish bowl” feel and creates a relaxing room feel.

In small spaces, try to stay away from adding too many different colours with plants and décor. Keep it simple! Making the view easy on the eyes gives the illusion of a larger area. I added a touch of pink for punch in my indoor/outdoor pillows which are designed by me (see and can be purchased on I found a cool sign for the back fence to really make this space POP! And all of the colours flow and complement each other to give the feeling of a larger, private, glamorous space.

The final addition was a water fountain. Not just visually pleasing, the soft gurgling of the water gives the illusion of being near a lake and helps to drown out road traffic. It also happens to be a great conversation piece.

As you embrace the warmer months, get out and enjoy an extension of your home in the great outdoors. Let your creative juices flow as you create a perfect outdoor space for your entertaining or relaxing (or both!) needs. Happy Patio Season!


About the author: Jo Alcorn is a design specialist and designer on HGTV’s Home to Win. She has her own furniture collection, lighting line, signature pillow and dog bed line and is known for her savvy design concepts.

Photo Credit: JASON HARTOG

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