Form, Fit and Function – How to Choose and Place Furniture on Your Patio

When you are choosing furniture for an interior room in your house, walls, windows and flow often dictate the size and placement of furniture. But how do you choose furniture for a “room” that has just one wall, and where do you put it?

3 Questions Show You How to Choose and Place Furniture on Your Patio

1. What do you want your outdoor patio space to accomplish?

The answer to this question is going to guide the rest of your process. Your outdoor patio space can be multi-functional or dedicated to just one or two important priorities. The list of potential uses for a patio is longer than you might realize; with function including:

When you factor in how much you want to accomplish with your patio space compared to the size of your current outdoor space you can see where the challenge lies. Given that a builder’s typical deck is about 10’ x 10’ and you need 12 square feet to accommodate a round dining table, you might need to get creative with your space to ensure it can meet your needs.

For instance, rather than incorporating planters and grow boxes on your patio, you might choose to build them around the perimeter.  This also opens up all sorts of possibilities in adding planting boxes as well as bench space and step downs into your yard. It could immediately turn a small builder’s standard patio into a much larger outdoor space. Instead of putting a barbecue or building an outdoor oven on your patio, you might choose to create a step down, lay a walking path with pavers and purchase an outdoor canopy to shelter a BBQ or pizza oven.

2. How much patio space do you have to work with?

Though as we have demonstrated above you are not necessarily going to be constrained to the patio space that you have, you will still need to get these measurements if you are going to choose furniture that will fit and accomplish the function you desire in your outdoor living space.

One great way to go about measuring and outfitting your patio with furniture is to use grid paper. This will enable you to draw a small-scale outline of your patio and block off squares equivalent to the size of the patio furniture you are considering so that you can be sure the outdoor furniture will fit and adequately accommodate space for walking around and through the space. Draw in any boundaries (such as the exterior wall of a house, shed, fencing, etc.) that abuts the space. These could create natural placement niches for larger pieces of furniture and help you determine which way to orient your patio furniture to get the best outdoor views.

3. What’s your style?

Once you have answered the question of function and space constraints, it’s time to choose furniture for your patio. Though it might seem counterintuitive, one effective way to personalize outdoor patio space is by first choosing basic furniture that fits the space, and then dressing it up with cushions and pillows that speak to your design choices. Likewise adding outdoor lighting, chandeliers, suncatchers, serving trays, fans and other accessories can communicate your style – without breaking the bank. This type of approach also makes it easy and inexpensive a few years down the road when you are ready for a change or to replace items that succumb to wear and tear.

Here in the Pacific Northwest the landscape is dominated by craftsman style homes, but you are also likely to find bungalows, cabins, log homes, mid-century modern, colonial and tudor revivals and even houseboats. In many cases our outdoor patio spaces give us the means to enjoy stunning water, mountain and forest views; they are a true extension of our homes and can often be enjoyed year-round with the help of a gas fire pit or outdoor heaters.

Your home’s style need not determine the type of furniture you choose for in or outside of your home! The style and decorating taste you incorporate into your outdoor patio space can be totally unique or mirrored to the choices you made in indoor décor. It can be limited to your patio furnishings and accessories or extended throughout your whole yard space. It’s up to you!