Arranging The Perfect Patio

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Follow these rules when designing your patio setup and save yourself bags of time!

For this time around, we will focus on creating the best sense of place in your patio.  This means working with the space and the arrangement of the furniture within it to create the best dynamic and get the most use out of it for yourself as well as your guests.

If you happen to be looking for something more on the decor side of things, you should take a gander at our article on backyard decor ideas that will really liven things up.

Nevertheless, decor and sense of place always work hand in hand, so reading up on both is not at all a bad idea.


The word “patio” is Spanish for backyard garden and serves to extend the living space. It will contain furniture and flooring – usually tile, stone, or paved – as a middle ground between house and yard.

However, if you have a large lot, you may wish to build your patio away from the noise of the house and street. What do you want your patio to do for you? Will you be cooking out there? Hosting parties? Spending the mornings reading?

Patios can connect to the house, be freestanding, tiered, next to a pool, or on a rooftop. The location of the patio will determine its size.


Center of Attention

Once you’ve decided the purpose and location, draw up a floor plan. Begin by choosing an anchor point, where the eyes will fall as you first enter the room.

It may be a fireplace, a window, or detail in the architecture that you want to show off. All other furniture and embellishments should complement and branch off from here.

The focal point could also be the center of the room: e.g., the table. Slip an outdoor rug beneath the table for extra pizazz. If you are working with a large space, consider more than one focal point.

outdoor patio stone

Furniture Arrangement

First, you must get the dimensions of the patio in order to find suitable furniture. Then you must decide what kind of furniture you want for your patio. Is there a theme? For example, you may want to set up lounge chairs under large trees for a vacation feel.

Individual chairs allow people to choose their own spot, while sofas encourage people to sit together. It’s best to find a balance of chairs and sofa to allow for stretching and relaxation, and to encourage guests to join the focal area. Will the furniture face inward, or toward the sunset?

Remember that all furniture should complement the focal point, without blocking your view of it. Your longest piece of furniture – like a couch – should go along the outside of your arrangement. Keeping furniture along the outside walls will allow for maximized space usage.

You may also want to set up a space that can be transformed from small entertaining to large-scale. Bench seating works best around a firepit so people can maneuver safely.

furniture arrangement backyard

Provide Sufficient Footpath

Make sure you and your guests have enough room to enter and exit the space, without running into objects or other guests. You will be carrying food and equipment around the patio.

Visible footpath is aesthetically pleasing and also makes for a safer space, and helps guide guests around the yard. Two to three feet should be sufficient.

If you have a square space, you may want to set up two sofas across from each other to allow for conversation and traffic flow.

outdoor patio large


While your patio will likely be used for feeding and entertaining, your guests will be lost in the party atmosphere and need to set their drinks, plates, and other things down.

Be sure to provide flat surfaces for this purpose, such as end tables or ottomans along with seating. Some seating, such as Muskoka chairs, have wide armrests, and can be used to hold drinks, but may not be sufficient for other miscellaneous items.

If your patio is circular, then a round table would be best, with all seating facing inward. This will allow guest to converse and use the table simultaneously.


Outdoor Kitchen

If you plan to cook on your patio, then you have a large appliance like a barbecue or a firepit. This outdoor kitchen should be close to the door for convenience, as long as there is ventilation, but separated from the dining and seating area for safety. 

Make sure there is a clear path from the house to the cooking area. You do not want to trip over obstacles or burn your hands on a hot plate that you had to carry. Keep yourself and your guests away from the smoky areas.

Breaking up the patio also creates a dynamic setting. All utensils and cooking needs should be stored next to the barbecue or indoors. Avoiding clutter is just as important on the patio as inside the house.

outdoor kitchen garden patio deck

Finishing Touches

Now that your furniture is set up and everything is figured out, it is time to add some custom touches. The goal is to create the ultimate outdoor living room, and this can be done by adding planters, lighting, and pillows.

Planters can flank the focal point for extra beauty, but should also follow the theme and colour scheme of your patio area. Lighting should come from several points and several sources, such as tabletop candles or outdoor lamps, but your patio should always be cord-free.

Include some extra decorative pillows, too. They will add extra comfort and can even be used as floor cushions, if needed.

exterior design futuristic

Finally, you might want to take a look at some patio furniture sets to put your plans in motion. Our review of the best backyard patio sets will walk you through the details.

By implementing some or all of these ideas, you simply cannot go wrong when it comes to your new outdoor patio.  

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