Small deck ideas: 14 stylish ways to optimize less-than-large decking

Whether you have timber or composite decking outdoors, our small deck ideas are full of tips for styling, privacy and more

small deck ideas from Ikea with corner sofa and parasol
(Image credit: Ikea)

If you want to update your outdoor living space this season, then these small deck ideas are sure to come in handy. After all, not everyone has acres to play with to curate the perfect summer setting, but less space certainly doesn't have to equal less style.

As it turns out, even the smallest patch of decking can be transformed into a relaxing area for enjoying the good weather, having drinks with friends, or even dining alfresco. Many of the more elaborate decking ideas can be downsized to fit into less-than-large spaces – all it takes is a bit of styling know-how and some practical tips.

To give you a helping hand, we're rounded up some of our top small deck ideas below. From ways to make them feel more private and color scheme suggestions to stylish accessories and furniture, you'll be feeling inspired in no time.

1. Pair vibrant colors with white for a decked porch

white porch with brightly colored accessories

Decorate all-white decking with vivid accessories

(Image credit: David Brittain/Future)

Front porch ideas are a great example of how decking can be used in small spaces. But, to keep the look welcoming, try going for a backdrop color of bright white – for both the walls and the decking itself. This will help to bounce light around the space and make it seem larger.

Then, bring the scene to life with lots of bold accessories. Layer patterned cushions over foldable furniture, try an outdoor rug or two, and bring a vase of freshly-cut blooms outdoors for the warmer months. A bench also makes a versatile addition, especially if it has a shelf beneath for extra storage.

2. Suspend a hanging chair over the scene

hanging chair over small decking

A hanging chair is an on-trend addition for your small deck ideas

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson/Future)

Who doesn't love a hanging chair? The perfect balance between luxurious and laid-back, it's been top of our wish list this season, and is an ideal feature for any outdoor living space.

If there's a sturdy veranda or pergola overhead, then a hanging chair is also a wonderful addition for small deck ideas. Opt for neutral tones that will complement the wooden flooring beneath for a sense of harmony, or go for something bright and bold if you're looking to make a stronger statement. It'll be your new favorite spot before you know it.

If you're looking for more outdoor seating ideas, our gallery has plenty more designs.

3. Create a cozy vibe with soft textiles and a shade sail

shade sail over modern decking with sofa

Up the comfy factor for your small deck ideas

(Image credit: David Brittain/Future)

Covered deck ideas have a multitude of benefits. Not only do they keep your outdoor furniture and the decking itself more protected from temperamental weather, but they also enable the space to be enjoyed longer into the year. 

What's more, the likes of parasols, awnings, and even shade sails can create a more private and cozy atmosphere that's perfect for entertaining or relaxing. Of course, they'll shelter you from the shade, or from bouts of rain, too.

So why not bring them into your small deck ideas? You can even create a temporary shade sail with a length of patterned fabric suspended from fences or trees. Finish the scene with plenty of soft textiles in a soothing color palette – we love the accents of blue used in the set-up above.

4. Go for modular designs

small deck ideas with cushions and corner sofa from Ikea

A cozy and colorful scene from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

We're head-over-heels for this colorful scene; it perfectly demonstrates how stylish outdoor living can be achieved even in a smaller area. 

Modular furniture designs are useful if you're looking for versatility. That way, you can mix up the structure of the space whenever you please. And, by opting for a parasol that's supported from the side, you can stay comfortably shaded without a bulky pole blocking your view. You can also string fairy or festoon lights from it for an extra dose of evening ambience.

Bright cushions and a cozy rug underfoot make stunning finishing touches and ramp up the comfy-factor further.

5. Opt for stackable furniture

small deck ideas for balacony with Vitra furniture

These uber-trendy Tip Ton chairs by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby from Vitra are a modern choice for small spaces

(Image credit: Vitra)

Sturdy and stylish decking is a brilliant choice for roof terraces. But if you're an urban dweller, then chances are the space will be limited. 

Enter stacking furniture – the epitome of versatility and an ideal addition for any small deck ideas. You can tuck it neatly out of the way when you need more floor space. And if you're worried about style, don't be. Nowadays, there are tons of trendy looks to choose from. We're a big fan of these sculptural chairs above, which are made from recycled plastic and are designed to improve posture.

Of course, any decking up high will also need some gorgeous decking railing ideas – our gallery is full of inspiration.

6. Add festoons for after-dark ambience

small deck with festoon lights table and benches from Next

Give your small deck ideas a chilled-out touch with festoons – like in this scene from Next

(Image credit: Next)

Even the smallest of spaces needs decent lighting to enable summer evenings to stretch out for longer. Festoon light ideas are perfect for a laid-back, rooftop-bar vibe and work beautifully around the walls or fences of a small deck, as they don't take up any floor space.

Then, all you need is a sturdy bench and table set, ready to entertain your guests. Add a potted ornamental grass or two around the edge to cocoon the scene and add a dose of privacy.

7. Try circular shapes

pacific lifestyle furniture on round deck

The Antigua set from Pacific Lifestyle is the perfect match for circular small deck ideas

(Image credit: Pacific Lifestyle)

Circular shapes aren't always a go-to choice for landscaping ideas, but they can look utterly lovely when used for decking. It's a pleasing feature that's great if you want to avoid too many harsh lines in your yard.

Take a cue from the scene above and use to create a zone specifically for your dining area – this set-up fits the space perfectly. Try mirroring the curved form with rounded topiary nearby for a sense of cohesion.

8. Pair with a patterned feature wall

decking with patterned painted wall

This wall certainly adds an extra dose of pizzazz to the scene

(Image credit: Polly Wreford/Future)

Want to pep up your small deck ideas but not quite sure how to do so? Getting creative with nearby garden wall ideas is a simple trick that takes up no additional room. If you're feeling artsy, grab a paintbrush and a tin of exterior paint and create your own feature or mural – it's a fabulous way to put your stamp on your space. 

Extend the theme to your decor too. For instance, these containers of ferns have been elevated with the playful addition of metallic windmills. The planters themselves have also been painted to match the color theme.

Of course, you don't have to stick to monochrome looks – why not go for an azure blue, or a calming sage green to set the tone?

9. Combine with paving for different zones

decking and paving in modern garden

Use small deck ideas alongside paving to create distinct zones

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny/Future)

When installed alongside areas of paving, small pockets of decking can be used as part of your garden divider ideas. The difference in materials is a perfect way to zone smaller spaces, when fences or screens might feel overwhelming or too bulky.

Recessed lighting is another space-saving solution and offers a smart finish as well as illuminating the way. 

Don't forget to keep on top of maintenance to keep the scene looking well-polished – our guide on how to clean decking has step-by-step advice.

10. Slot in a corner sofa

corner sofa on decking

Corner sofas are a practical choice for small deck ideas

(Image credit: Robert Sanderson/Future)

Want to create a space that everyone can enjoy, but stuck with a small deck? No problem. A corner sofa is a great way to provide enough seating for all the family, or your best group of girlfriends. Just make sure you measure the space before you buy, to ensure it'll slot in neatly. 

Position a small coffee table centrally as a spot to place glasses and a pretty posy of blooms, and don't forget to add plenty of comfy cushions as a final flourish. Bright, patterned designs like these are a lovely choice if you like our bohemian garden ideas.

11. Shelter an outdoor bar

black parasol over outdoor bar on decking

An understated scene with a tropical touch

(Image credit: Paul Raeside/Future)

A slimline garden table can easily double up for outdoor bar ideas, whether it's for whipping up cocktails or freshly-squeezed OJ. For a grown-up vibe, you can't go wrong with sleek lines and charcoal tones paired with metallic chairs.

A parasol overhead can be a design feature in itself without taking up too much extra room on your deck. Plus, it'll give your space extra privacy and shelter. This design above complements the sumptuous surroundings and adds a tropical touch.

Want to try something different? Our best garden parasols buying guide has plenty more designs.

12. Try a neat seating set-up, complete with fire pit

corner sofa with fire pit on decking from moda furnishings

This corner sofa from Moda Furnishings' Birkin Collection is ideal for small deck ideas

(Image credit: Moda Furnishings)

Is your corner sofa still not quite big enough for your summer soirées? Add a handful of stools in a complementary color to up the seating capacity of your small deck ideas. Extra points if they stack, or double up as storage.

Other nifty furniture solutions include tables with built-in fire pits. They'll keep everyone toasty well into the evening, look super stylish, and they offer enough space for everyone to keep their drinks and dishes off of their laps.

If you love the look, our fire pit ideas gallery has more inspiration.

13. Layer up the textures

styling on decking with outdoor rug and chair

Mix and match styles in pared-back tones for a sense of luxury

(Image credit: Dominic Blackmore/Future)

By layering up different tactile finishes, even the smallest of decks can feel sumptuous and sophisticated. Try mixing rattan with woven outdoor rugs, embroidered cushions, and galvanized planters filled with foliage.

Sticking to a neutral palette lets the textures do the talking and will add a refined vibe to the zone. However, an inky emerald or deep navy backdrop won't go amiss for an extra dose of opulence.

14. Use small deck ideas for a stylish walkway

decking pathway

Try using small deck ideas to get from A to B

(Image credit: Brent Darby/Future)

It might not be your go-to for garden path ideas, but narrow lengths of decking are actually a very attractive and practical choice. Positioned alongside ponds or pockets of greenery, it can form a structured walkway that feels more organic than sleek paving slabs.

Sure, it might not be large enough to support a sofa or even a BBQ, but if you've got space for those elsewhere, then why not give this idea a try?

How can I make my small deck look nice?

Next furniture on small deck ideas

Nesting tables and compact-yet-striking furniture are ideal for small deck ideas – this collection is from Next

(Image credit: Next)

Hopefully by now you'll be full of ideas for transforming your small deck into a gorgeous retreat. However, for even more inspiration, Jonny Brierley, CEO of Moda Furnishings shares his top tips:

  1. For small spaces, think soft and comfy – from your furnitures' finishes to including plenty of cushions and blankets. This will make the area feel larger and will be more enjoyable to spend time in.
  2. Stackable outdoor furniture sets are incredibly useful in small spaces. For example, a two-seater bistro set could be stacked and turned into a 'poser' table – which is a beer-garden-style standing table – for a more casual feel.
  3. Set the mood with lighting to create a warm and inviting space. Some string fairy lights never go amiss if you want to add a casual, fun feel to your small deck ideas. We have plenty of styling tips in our outdoor lighting ideas feature.

Matthew Fagg from Barlow Tyrie also shares his advice for small deck ideas. 'Opting for stylish and comfortable – yet compact – dining sets will help to maximize your outdoor space, setting the scene for a lazy brunch, or cocktail and canapé hour at home.' 

If your decking space catches the sun, even better. 'A pedestal table with taller legs will create elegant long shadows as time passes, and the high vantage point will dramatically enhance your view of the garden and beyond,' he adds.

Our outdoor dining ideas feature is full of gorgeous designs if you're on the lookout for more inspiration.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.