Having outdoor living, playing, and entertainment spaces can be habit-forming. Not only can you effectively extend your home’s available square footage for recreation and relaxation, but you can easily tailor and re-tailor your outdoor spaces to suit your wants and needs to no end. The problem is in knowing how much is too much and what to do if you’ve already overloaded your patio with outdoor furniture.
As a general rule of thumb, you should leave no less than three feet of space to the sides and the front of every piece of sitting furniture and all the way around tables, with the exception of tables that are up against a wall. The reason for this is that you must have easy freedom of movement for a recreation or relaxation space to serve its purpose. To put it simply, space equals freedom. So you want to incorporate enough furniture to serve the intended purpose of the space. This gives you enough freedom by not violating the three-foot perimeter rule.
Is it to become a cooking area, an eating area, an entertainment area, or some combination of these or more? You should endeavor to provide for the intended function of the space without overloading it.
Think about the number of people who are likely to use the space at one time. Try to accommodate that number if you can, but don’t push it so far that you over-encumber the space.
Know the square footage of your patio. Create a diagram, if possible, and plan for the furniture you would like to use. If a given piece can’t be incorporated without violating the three-foot rule, consider something smaller or some other revision of your furniture collection.
Now, here are some helpful tips to help you make more space if you have already used up too much.
If a piece of furniture is causing you to violate the three-foot rule, consider dismantling it and transforming it into something new. You could make a small retaining wall for a new planter, stepping stones, shelving, or some other decorative feature. This way, it won't go to waste.
If your patio is overloaded, consider making a small conversation nook, a tea setting, or a children’s play area. Make it tucked away, cozy, maybe even a little private. This will enable you to get away with using only a small amount of furniture for the new area, and your patio will be able to breathe again.
A low, broad wall is good to retain planting features. But it’s also a great way to add seating room without adding actual furniture to a space. This will give you more elbow room and help you resist the urge to pack a patio with new items.