10 ideas for small garden terraces and balconies

Blessed with a small outdoor space, whether a balcony, terrace, courtyard or shared garden? Be amazed at just how fabulous it could look with these clever design ideas

John Lewis & Partners Cabana 4-Seater Garden Lounging Set
(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners )

Whether you've embraced small space living out of choice or necessity, a terrace, balcony, courtyard or shared garden is always a bonus. But the challenge is to make it usable, good-looking and practical, all at the same time. At the very least, you might want to fit in some multi-tasking indoor-outdoor garden furniture and space-saving garden storage ideas – and that's even before you've considered how to decorate it. Luckily, we've come up with some rather neat design ideas for your terrace or balcony.

Ikea balcony

(Image credit: Ikea)

Whether your balcony or terrace leads off your living room, bedroom or kitchen, styling and decorating and furnishing it to complement the colour scheme and styling indoors will make both spaces feel linked and, as a result, larger. Decorating out of the question? Budget too limited to splash out on furniture? Masses of plants just inside and outside the doors will create that indoor-outdoor blend you're after.

Saltholmen outdoor table and folding chairs and the  Socker Indoor-Outdoor Plant Stand create a contemporary look. 

2. Be practical: choose lightweight rattan furniture

Salsa 2-seater garden sofa in Mint

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Looking for garden furniture? Heavy, bulky pieces are not a good option for balconies and terraces, which is where lightweight, easy-to-shift rattan garden furniture comes into its own. Pick a synthetic rattan for that no-maintenance approach and pick seating that's low-level and light-coloured to make the space feel larger, and to allow maximum light to reach the room indoors.  

The Salsa rattan range from John Lewis ticks all the boxes and is perfect for a smaller balcony or terrace. 

3. Choose foldable furniture for colder months

Islay outdoor bistro table and folding chairs

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Summer does not last forever, alas, and when the weather gets cooler and rainier, you will want to protect your furniture until next year. If you live in a flat or scrape by without a shed, this will be much easier to do if your furniture is foldable. 

The Islay Garden Bistro set from John Lewis boasts a table with a hardy, stone top, with the two chairs folding neatly underneath it. 

4. Go for stackable furniture if you like entertaining

Remy Natural Round Table with 6 Blue Stacking Armchairs

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Summer is a time for entertaining guests, but terrace gardens can present a problem if you are going to be using the same space for both al fresco dining and mingling afterwards. Opt for chairs that are stackable and are easy to clear once the dining part is over, and the transition from one stage of the party to the next will be smooth. 

We like the simple and colourful Remy Stacking Armchair from Bridgman. 

5. Create colourful accents with hanging planters

Corsica planters

(Image credit: Elho)

If your garden terrace or balcony is on the smaller side, you may end up having to choose between fitting in garden furniture or plant pots. If you need to save the space for a table and chairs but still want to accessorise with plants, opt for window boxes or hanging planters. They won’t take up vital floor space, but will cheer up the outdoor area. 

The Elho Corsica hanging planters are very affordable and available from Amazon. 

6. Brighten up your al fresco dining area with lights

Garden lighting and furniture on a balcony

(Image credit: Ikea)

One of the great joys of summer is al fresco dining out on the terrace. Accessorise your terrace dining area with jolly festoon lights that will help create a convivial atmosphere. 

See our best garden lighting buys, but check out our guide to choosing garden lighting before you shop. Lights and furniture above, Ikea.

7. Liven things up with a colourful rug

Santa Cruz Outdoor Rug by Fab Hab

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

The trick to making your terrace or balcony feel like it's part of your indoor space too is to accessorise with complementing soft furnishings. Here, an outdoor rug introduces bold colour and graphic pattern. 

The bold-coloured Santa Cruz Outdoor Rug by Fab Hab is made from durable polypropylene and is easy to clean. Available at Cuckooland. 

8. Save space and tidy up with a storage bench

Ikea storage bench

(Image credit: Ikea)

Terraces and balconies will need small space storage solutions that are clever and compact.  So choose furniture that can double up as storage for cushions, blankets and BBQ accessories. 

This bench from Ikea is great for storing away soft furnishings during rainy weather, and it also works as a very fetching coffee table. 

9. Create a cosy nook with an outdoor sofa

Kungslholm Outdoor 2-seat Sofa from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

If your balcony or terrace is narrow, you may want to just use most of that narrow space for a comfy sofa, rather than trying to fit in lots of chairs, which is likely to make the space awkward to move around. Make sure you choose a sofa that is intended for the outdoors and that the cushions are as inviting as those on your sofa indoors.

The Kungslholm Outdoor 2-seat Sofa from Ikea is made from tough synthetic rattan and aluminium, with removable and washable cushioning. 

10. Design a relaxation area with a rocking chair 

Leia outdoor rocking chair

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Balconies and terraces are perfect spaces for summer lounging. So, create a serene haven on your balcony by installing a hanging seat, hammock, or a rocking chair – in other words, a fabulous garden chair, just right for a little me-time away from a busy household. 

We like the very inviting and stylish Leia Outdoor Rocking Chair from John Lewis. It is practical as well as pretty, crafted from hardy eucalyptus and quick-drying fisherman’s rope.

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