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We all know outdoor spaces come at a premium in the city. Author Samantha Shapin shares pics of her own small outdoor space and tips on how she transformed the tiny area into a city oasis. (Image: Samantha Shapin)

5 tips to turn your tiny outdoor space into a true city oasis

City living comes with plenty of perks -- endless events and activities, fantastic dining options, easy access to public transportation and the teeny, tiniest yard to call your own. Wait ... no ... not that.

Whether it's a small balcony, a coveted front porch or the ever-elusive "backyard," our private outdoor spaces are treasured, and fueled by the dreams of what they could be. But all it takes is a little planning and creativity to transform your miniature terrace into a true city oasis. Follow our five steps for maximizing your small outdoor space:

  1. Understand your limitations: Not to bum you out, but these little spaces usually come with an extra long list of regulations and limitations, from your HOA or landlord etc. Write down the rules, take measurements so you know the exact amount of space you have and make notes on how much sun and water you get, and where your get it. This is your guide moving forward.

  2. Give your space a purpose: Decide how you want to use your outdoor space first, and anything that doesn't further that purpose has to go. This space cannot serve as your everything area. Whether you're looking to dine al fresco, maximize comfy seating for wine and gossip or create your own urban garden, find a single purpose and let it inspire you.

  3. Pick a theme: In a small space, every detail counts; you have to stay focused and committed to your theme to achieve the greatest impact. When searching for d├ęcor, don't limit yourself to the "outdoor" section, as there are plenty of traditional home decor pieces that can transition outside if you are willing to bring them in at the end of the day. To complete the look, consider adding a fresh coat of paint in an accent color, covering ugly flooring with a rug or deck tiles and find furniture that fits the space.

  4. Plants are not optional: Plants provide color, texture, privacy and a living vibrancy that you just can't get from anything else. Talk to the staff at your local garden center to help you find something that works for your environment, desired look and the amount of time you're able to dedicate to maintenance.

  5. Solar lights for the win: By limiting the need for extra cords or a power source, solar lights simplify the design and provide automatic glow the minute the sun goes down. Plus, they are environmentally-friendly and come in just about every style imaginable. My favorites are LED bistro lights, but you can also find rope lights, path lights, lanterns and more.

Share pics of your #SoDCRefined outdoor spaces on social and don't forget to tag us. Happy decorating!