When you live in a big-city apartment with minimal square footage, there are certain al fresco activities that just aren’t an option—like poolside women’s circles or naked earthing. But with a few choice decor elements, you can still take advantage of what little space you do have to create a fresh-air oasis for summer fun.
I tapped Los Angeles-based interior designer Alison Koch, founder of Outfit Home, for a ideas on how to jazz up any nature-facing patch of real estate, whether it’s a fire escape, balcony, tiny backyard, or even just a windowsill.
Implement just one of her suggestions (or more!), and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to take your meditation practice, post-work spritzes, and crystal-crown crafting sessions into the great not-so-wide open.
I mean, anything for a little extra vitamin D, right?
Here are 6 ways to decorate your tiny outdoor space this summer.
1. Herb garden
Koch says that if you’re going to add just one element to your outdoor haven (yes, even a windowsill counts), this should be it. “Herbs look great, they’re easy to care for, and they smell wonderful,” she says. “Plus, incorporating the [plants] you grew into your summer dinner or cocktail menu is such a rewarding, personal touch.” Not to mention that they make some seriously sublime-smelling DIY cleaning products for after the revelry’s over.
2. Outdoor rug
Fact: Color has a major impact on your mood. So it’s not surprising that Koch recommends throwing down an outdoor rug if you’ve got room for one. “It can offer a soft space to sit—and can be hosed off if it gets dirty,” she says. (Bonus: It will make your fire escape way more comfortable to lounge on.) Her top tip for choosing the right style? “Keep the color scheme consistent with the connecting interior to expand your living space.”
String lights may be trending on Instagram right now, but if you want to make your sunset cocktail hours even dreamier, just add candles. “Lanterns are a wonderful source of ambient light,” Koch says. And they’re not just good looking—if you’re playing with actual fire, they also keep flames contained for an added layer of safety.
4. Stool or bench
Tiny-space design is all about finding items that can perform double duty. This is especially true for seating, which will likely be the largest thing in your decor scheme. “Small benches or stools can double as a plant stand when you aren’t hanging outdoors,” Koch suggests. She recommends looking for something in teak wood, which “weathers into a nice grey color when left to the elements.”
5. Bar cart
If your space is too petite for a dining table, Koch recommends putting your patio refreshments on wheels. “An outdoor bar cart is easy to bring out from the kitchen, and it can also double as a buffet and a bar,” she says. Load it up with cauli-crust pizza and sugar-free brownies, and hit the floor for an at-home picnic.
6. Gravity-defying greenery
Got some extra space to play with? Go beyond the herb garden by cultivating a few larger botanical friends. “Plants are such a nice contrast to busy city living,” says Koch. She recommends getting creative with their placement. “Hanging plants provide a little privacy from your nosey neighbors or skew a bad view,” the designer points out. “Alternatively, a living plant wall is a great way to bring texture and color to a dreary, high-rise patio.” You grow, girl.
Alison Koch's small space outdoor design picks
Now that your outdoor space’s on point, here’s how to raise the vibe indoors with crystals and house plants. Have a black thumb? Try growing your garden in the shower—yes, really.