‘Tis the season for outdoor entertaining and alfresco dining. Take it as your cue to get that patio ready, like, now. Even if you’re working with a teeny, tiny space, there are plenty of options. We’re here with advice from an interior design pro on how to turn it into an oasis you’ll use and love — regardless of the square footage.

Below, Seattle-based interior designer Brianne MacLean gives us some practical ways to approach outdoor decor. Whether you’re dealing with a total lack of privacy (hiii neighbors) or a list of people to wine and dine, her insights will get you over your design dilemma in no time. Scroll below to see why.

DESIGN 1: outdoor dining


This layout comes in handy when visiting guests and warm weather collide (AKA the perfect recipe for outdoor dining). Rather than squishing all of your visitors onto your small balcony with a giant outdoor set, MacLean suggests turning to different types of chairs for more room. “I find that providing a variety of seating by combining chairs and benches allows for flexibility in how it is used. For an intimate dinner, push the table toward the window and use the two chairs side by side. For a small group gathering, push the table out, and the bench provides 2-3 more seats,” she explains.

Then, to loosen the vibe of the space, the interior designer suggests finishing off with some plants. “Most balconies or patios feel very rectangular, so using round potted plants can provide a more organic boundary to your space while also adding interest,” she says.

DESIGN 2: outdoor living room


For the home dweller who splits their time equally between inside and outside, a porch living room setup is best. According to MacLean, the key to being successful with this is to make it feel comfy by using an indoor/outdoor rug, a corner patio sectional, and some cushy pillows and throws. The designer’s go-to places for these decor items? “Crate & Barrel is one of my favorites for pillows, West Elm for rugs, and is easy and affordable for custom cushions with outdoor fabrics,” she says.

Of course, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with a stylish setup, so MacLean has a fool-proof way to conquer this. “One trick I’ve learned in windy places is to add Velcro tabs that can secure cushions and pillows in place if your balcony is ever in a windy spot. And always have blankets on hand!” she says. Noted!

DESIGN 3: Private Space


Then, there are some of us who just feel lucky to have a slice of outside to pass the time (no matter how cramped or crowded it is). In this case, creating privacy is *key*. “So many of us live in tiny apartments, but if we are fortunate enough to obtain a balcony, we can think outside the box on how to use it,” MacLean says.

Her trick? Laying down a mat, layering in some window-covering plants, and letting the minimalism speak for itself. “Personally I am always trying to find more zen in my life, so the concept of creating a private balcony on which I can do yoga, and meditate, and breathe in fresh air really resonates for me,” she notes.

And there you have it, three helpful ways to spruce up your patio for the season ahead. Now go grab your BFFs and make some frosé — it’s time to get outside and celebrate!

Are you looking for additional decorating tips? Follow us on Pinterest. Then, if you have a design dilemma you want solved, tweet us @BritandCo!

(Illustrations via Torii Burnett / Brit + Co)