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As courtyard patios are often on the small side, it pays to approach them as you would a room in your home, looking at flooring, paint colors and seating to create an attractive alfresco area. Take a look at these ideas for maximizing space and light.

How to Make the Most of an Enclosed Patio

1. Lighten Everything Up

A sunken courtyard can sometimes be a little dark. To brighten yours, paint surfaces in a pale color and stick to a palette of green and white for the plants. Consider choosing a pale-colored paving material too, which will recede and allow furniture and plants to pop. Tidy furniture can also help to keep the space feeling light. In this courtyard by Karen Rogers at KR Garden Design, the built-in floating bench allows you to view the space underneath, helping to make the area feel as roomy as possible.

How to Make the Most of an Enclosed Patio

2. Make It Cozy

The sheltered nature of a courtyard garden offers the possibility of extending the time you spend outside. Take advantage of this by incorporating a cozy seating area, and add even more warmth with a fire pit. In this patio by Bestall & Co. Landscape Design, the seating area is bordered by evergreen plants, which helps to make the space feel secluded all year round.

How to Make the Most of an Enclosed Patio

3. Design Around the Perimeter

Free up the center of your small courtyard to give it an airy feel by constructing seating around the perimeter. Built-in benches can also double as valuable storage to maximize space. Consider tiered planters behind the seating, as they will allow you to grow a variety of plants, including climbers, for added height and a lush feel.

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