While being able to enjoy fresh air and natural light is essential for our health, not everyone has the luxury of a private garden or large outdoor space. When all you have to work with is a limited balcony, what can you do to make the place more enjoyable?
The answer is: a lot! No matter how you intend to use the space, there are tons of things you could do to decorate your balcony and make it as comfortable and functional as possible.
From folding furniture to flooring, and fairy lights to foliage, here are 8 top tips for decorating a balcony that will help you to spruce up your outside space in no time.
1) Choose your theme carefully
The first step in creating the perfect balcony space is choosing a theme that suits you and your home. Many balconies stick with more serene colour schemes, such as off-whites, greys and blues, or warmer neutrals.
The palette and décor style you choose should reflect the purpose of the space. Do you want a sleek and minimalist balcony for soothing relaxation? A chic and modern balcony for a change of scenery when working from home? Or something eclectic and colourful that expresses your personality?
An easier way to decorate a balcony cohesively is to treat it like an extension of its surroundings. Take inspiration from your interiors, bringing the aesthetic outside as well, or try to stay in keeping with the architectural style of the building.
You can also be inspired by the style of the balcony itself. For example, a modern balcony with glass balustrades will look its best with complementary furniture in glass and metal. You can add comfortable touches with soft furnishings like cushions and rugs.
2) Create a couple of different zones
Dividing your balcony into different zones can be difficult when space is limited, but it’s not impossible, even with a small balcony. For example, you could double its functionality by at the very least using one part for seating and another for gardening or storage.
A small table with two chairs is all you need to create an alfresco dining area or temporary desk when working outdoors with a view. If you truly want to relax on your balcony when you’re not sitting at the table, you could turn the other side into a lounging area with more comfortable chair options, like a bean bag or floor cushions.
If you have the space for an armchair or hammock, this could be the perfect opportunity to have an open-air reading nook. Just remember that if you add shelving, anything you store on your balcony can’t be too heavy and will have to endure the elements.
Dining and lounging areas are the most common zones for smaller balconies, but most also incorporate a ‘green’ area. Whether this involves flower boxes, hanging plants, a herb garden, or trellis-style trailing foliage, it can help to define zones or form a zone of its own.
3) Use multi-functional furniture
The key to decorating a balcony in a way that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing is to invest in multi-purpose furniture. Big and bulky furniture will make the space feel constricted and smaller than it really is, whereas versatile pieces can keep things clutter-free on the surface.
A small sofa or bench with built-in storage under the seat is a great example for a balcony lounge area, as is folding furniture for your dining area. A set of fold-away chairs and table are ideal for when you want to be able to switch things up without lots of stressful manoeuvring.
If you would prefer to have something more solid and semi-permanent for a table, again, you could multiply its uses by making sure to buy a table with some storage – such as a coffee table with drawers that can hold magazines or blankets. Other ideas include:
- Stackable wooden stools that can be used as seats or side tables
- A wheeled cart or detachable ‘bar’ ledge for drinks or plants
- Hollow footstools/pouffes that can store cushions or blankets
- Vertical shelving that forms a privacy screen between neighbouring balconies
- Futon chairs that can fold out like ‘sofa beds’ for full-length lounging or bench seating
If you want to make the most of your outdoor space, every piece of balcony furniture you choose should be twice as practical as it is decorative. Just remember to stick to lightweight materials that are robust enough to stay outside.
4) Bring the greenery for a balcony garden
One of the easiest ways to add colour and life to your balcony is to decorate the space with plants and flowers. Whether you create a designated mini-garden area or spread them throughout to anchor the entire space, plants will help to make the balcony feel homely and cheerful.
Rather than ground-level planters of flowers, many people add window box-style hanging planters from their balcony railings, or add individual potted plants like succulents in artful planters on tables and shelves. If you’re able to hang planters of flowers or trailing plants from the wall, even better!
Another option is to invest in tall statement plants that create a bold look, introducing swathes of foliage that not only make the space colourful, but also provide some shade and privacy. Think monstera ‘Swiss cheese’ plants, fiddle leaf fig trees, snake plants, or bamboo palms. Just remember that these often need specific conditions to thrive – so you can’t be leaving plants like lemon trees outside in cold temperatures.
If you want something hardier that’s also useful, why not start a mini herb garden to add a bit of extra flavour to your cooking? Or, if you don’t want to be responsible for actual living plants, you can simply buy low-maintenance faux alternatives.
5) Make the most of vertical space
When floor space is tight, it’s even more important to utilise your vertical space. Whether you paint it to add colour or hang things from it, whatever wall space you may have, there are multiple ways you can use it to improve your balcony décor.
You could decorate your wall with a mosaic to introduce some texture to the balcony’s backdrop, put up (weather-resistant) art pieces to bring your living room style to your outside space, add wall sconces, or even hang a mirror to reflect light and make a small balcony feel more spacious.
A popular way to make the most of this space is to install a vertical garden, fulfilling the goal of adding greenery at the same time. You can do this using ladder-style shelving fixed to the wall, or train climbing plants to grow up a trellis or lattice.
If you have an inset balcony with a structural ceiling, you might even be able to install a hanging chair or hammock (just be sure to check weight limits carefully – and ask permission if you’re renting!). Alternatively, if you have a projecting balcony, you can create some cover by adding a retractable awning, sail shade, or other fabric canopy above.
6) Install atmospheric outdoor lighting
Most people will want to enjoy their balcony in the evenings after work, which requires ambient lighting to make the space usable and invoke a welcoming atmosphere. The most popular option is undeniably softly twinkling string lights, which are often wound around railings or planters.
If classic fairy lights feel a little boring, you can opt for warm-toned globe lights instead, or even add personality to the space at the same time with some novelty string lights shaped like anything from hearts or flowers to animals or food items. For the ultimate modern vibe, you could install colour-changing LED strip lights around the edges of your balcony.
Enclosed balconies with wall or ceiling space may be able to take advantage of this to install sconces or hanging pendant lights, which can also serve as decorative statement pieces while providing illumination. Alternatively, a few well-placed lanterns can make your balcony look beautiful and feel cosy with just the right ambiance for relaxing outside.
Lanterns also offer a safer way to use candles for that natural glow. If you’re still worried about safety, it’s possible to buy fake LED candle lanterns that can achieve the same effect with no fire involved. Similarly, if you’re concerned about electrical wiring and having to plug in your lights, it may be better to opt for solar-powered lighting.
7) Don’t forget about the flooring
Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook what’s right under your feet. When decorating your balcony, be sure to think about the floor as well as the furnishings that will sit on it. Many balconies come with a bland cement floor that’s neither comfortable nor visually appealing, but a simple floor covering can immediately transform the atmosphere of the entire balcony.
There are plenty of options for durable, non-slip flooring that you can install outside. If cost is a concern, you won’t be covering as much square footage as an interior room to begin with, but there are also cheaper options like tile-effect or wood-effect vinyl flooring.
If you don’t want to lay any new flooring – or maybe you have wooden decking that you’re already happy with – you can still dress the existing floor up with outdoor rugs. Just as they do indoors, rugs can help to delineate spaces when you’re creating different zones on your balcony. A patterned outdoor rug is ideal for adding warmth and visual interest to a lounge area.
Whichever route you go down for your balcony flooring, make sure that it doesn’t just look stylish, but is also designed specifically for outdoor use. As with outdoor furniture, the materials need to be resistant to water and heat to make sure they last through potentially harsh weather conditions.
8) Add colour and texture with accessories
The final touch when styling your balcony will be to add soft furnishings that both increase the comfort level and add extra decoration. From improving hard furniture with plush fabrics to adorning a glass balustrade with vinyl decals, there are countless small things you can do to customise your outdoor space.
If the design of your balcony furniture is more of a timeless style that offers a blank canvas to work with, you can dress things up and introduce more colours, patterns, and textures by draping blankets, scattering throw pillows, and laying outdoor rugs.
When choosing accessories like cushions, plant pots, and lights, it’s best to stick with the theme you chose at the start. Whether this means matching rattan furniture with woven baskets or keeping things monochrome for a clean glass-and-steel feel is up to you.
Just remember that anything you leave outside needs to be sufficiently weatherproof – otherwise, you’ll either have to bring items indoors when you’re not using them, or be able to store them securely inside your multi-purpose balcony furniture.