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28 balcony ideas – decorate even small apartment balconies that want privacy too

Balcony ideas: Max out a small balcony with the best decor for style and privacy. Think plants, furniture and more cool design tips.

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

The best balcony ideas will ensure that you make the most of your small city apartment or suburban home's terrace balcony. Whether you want to max out space, add more privacy or perfect your planting scheme in this elevated area, we've all the design and styling ideas you need.

Planting on a balcony is a great way to enhance beauty and privacy, and choosing the right kind of furniture could see you create a cozy, convivial and multi-functioning space to enjoy in all seasons.

How can I make my balcony look nice?

We spoke with Hege Lundh, Marketing Director at Lundhs (opens in new tab) about how to create the best small balcony setup. 'With small balcony or garden spaces it's important to get the balance right to make your area feel inviting and calming whilst still making it look nice and styled. The key to this is choosing your accessories, furniture and plants wisely! Save on floor space by adding more plants in pots and placing them on tables, benches or shelves, and when it comes to choosing your plants, go for options that will provide you with some greenery but won't grow too much or require too much cutting back!'

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.

2. Have yourself a teepee

Balcony Idea with teepee: Deluxe Medium Hanging Outdoor Teepee - TiiPii Bed

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

Teepees aren't just for enormous backyards and gardens, you know. If you have a little more room to play with then this is one of the most stylish and comfortable balcony ideas going. Chilled, chic vibes all around. 

3. Think beach

Convivial balcony setup

(Image credit: Lundhs Real Stone)

Teaming natural materials with beachy furniture and accessories like deck chairs, bamboo decorative features. lanterns and more will add fresh interest and energy to all types of apartment balcony – even if you are hundreds of miles away from the sea and that salty air.

4. Focus on balcony flooring and furniture

Balcony ideas: patterned balcony floor tile

(Image credit: Ikea)

Patterned porcelain exterior tiles are a brilliant option for modern balconies as they are durable and great looking. Garden furniture-wise, avoid heavy, bulky pieces in a small space and choose lightweight or even foldable dining table sets that you can pack away when you're done chilling out. Get these two features right and you're halfway there.

We like rattan or a lightweight wood for that no-maintenance approach and pick seating that's low-level and light-colored to make the space feel larger, and to allow maximum light to reach the room indoors.

5. Choose fluid shapes

Ikea PS Vago easy chair

(Image credit: Ikea)

Balconies are perfect spaces for entertaining guests, so keep yours looking relaxed and inviting by choosing softly shaped garden furniture, window boxes and more. Keeping all your decor features like this will create a cool transition for the ultimate stylish finish.

6. Create colorful 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.

7. Keep a herb garden in sight

Dining area on an urban balcony

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you have a large or small balcony, squeezing in a herb garden is the perfect way to add color and fragrance (and taste) to your space. As your balcony will have a little wind protection and usually some sun, it makes the ideal growing spot even for beginners and it removes all need for buying herbs or more decorative greenery for that matter. Feast your eyes on that basil.

8. Add cover 

John Lewis & Partners Cabana 4-Seater Garden Lounging Set

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners )

There are lots of cool ways to cover your balcony for a little weather and sun protection. We love this fabric canopy loosely draped over the space. It adds a sweet holiday vibe as well as a little privacy.  

9. Focus on the view

Balcony in structural glass for modern finish

(Image credit: SMART Balustrades)

David Hough, managing director of SMART Balustrades (opens in new tab) recommends focusing on maxing out your view to create the best backdrop for any additional decorative features. 'If your outside space is limited, ensure you have the best possible view to enjoy. Many balconies have traditional vertical bar railings, these can be updated to an attractive frameless glass balustrade which will give uninterrupted views.'

10. 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 a balcony space is al fresco wining and dining. Accessorize your terrace dining area with funky festoon lights that will help create a convivial atmosphere. 

11. Liven things up with color

Ikea outdoor rug

(Image credit: Ikea)

The trick to making your terrace or balcony feel like it's part of your indoor space too is to add color and pattern using accessories like rugs and other soft furnishings. Here, an outdoor rug introduces bold color and graphic pattern. We love it.

12. Make it your own viewing deck

3-tiered serving basket

(Image credit: Ikea)

Got no room to move but that doesn't mean it can't be the perfect spot to people/bird/cute dog watch from above. Pick out a cool stool, add a lamp and maybe a tiny tree for evenings spent outdoors and watch the hours while by.

13. DIY a balcony container garden

DIY balcony plant display

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mix up your planting scheme with florals, veggies and tropical plants by getting a little inventive with your plant pot displays. Think height and happy vibes all around by placing your green picks in crates, around crates, up the wall and more, because container gardening is super easy to do, even on a balcony. 

14. Mimic your home's exterior

Modern garden with wooden balcony

(Image credit: Future + Centaur Archive)

For endless modern appeal that makes a bold statement too, building your balcony to match your home's cladding is the way to go. We love this timber-framed balcony which is spacious and stylish outside (and in no doubt). Plus, it makes a good staring point when you're sat in the backyard.

15. 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 (opens in new tab) is great for storing away soft furnishings during rainy weather, and it also works as a very fetching coffee table. 

16. Make it sing with a simple cooking space

Balcony ideas with outdoor kitchen for convivial atmosphere

(Image credit: Lundhs Real Stone)

Add a DIY outdoor kitchen or a modular unit and turn your balcony into the place to be over the warm months. You can keep it simple with little maintenance needed too if you're short on space, and Lundh notes that 'Natural stone accessories in the form of serving trays, bowls or vases are the perfect addition to a small outdoor space. They'll be both practical and beautiful and if you opt for 100% natural stone you don't have to worry about them getting wet or fading in the sunlight as the material will be completely resistant to the elements.'

17. Create a cozy 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.

18. Design a relaxation area with a rocking chair 

Leia outdoor rocking chair

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Balconies and terraces are perfect spaces for 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. 

19. Go retro with blinds for display

Balcony with wooden blinds for boho look

(Image credit: Getty Images)

These wooden exterior blinds finish off this tiny balcony perfectly. Adding another natural element helps bring out all that greenery and small bursts of color. It's a look and it's elevated. 

20. Be strategic for more privacy

Balcony ideas for privacy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Using plants as a natural screen for privacy is a brilliant way to make even a tiny balcony feel more secluded, cozy and personal. Combine tall plants with climbers and smaller potted varieties for added interest whether you're sat on the balcony, or staring at it from inside.

21. Add a fire pit to your balcony or terrace

Henley Fire Pit is from Ivyline

(Image credit: Ivyline)
(opens in new tab)

Even a small terrace can accommodate a fire pit or chimenea – a great way to get some outdoor cooking done, and to add a rustic charm to your decorating scheme. 

22. Accessorize the railing

Ferm Living Bau Pot

(Image credit: Nest)

Plants are the easiest, and one of the most affordable, ways to make a small balcony railing look good. It really doesn't matter how small your space is – all you need is a couple of stylish containers and some trailing plants. Voilà, your balcony is Insta-worthy.

23. Paint exterior walls a warm colour

Ikea Garden furniture

(Image credit: Ikea)

Painting the walls a warm colour will make the balcony look more inviting, even if the sun's not out. Love the traditional, romantic design of the Lacko set (opens in new tab), we reckon it could transform a dreary patio into some Parisian style balcony – pots of lavender dotted around, French press and croissants on the table – yer, okay it might take a bit of imagination but still, nice idea. 

24. Use multi functional furniture to save space

Ikea garden furniture

(Image credit: Ikea)

Look how much gorgeous Ikea garden furniture fits on to this tiny balcony! With any small space, indoor or out, furniture has to work hard and opting for multifunctional furniture is always going to help you save space. This lovely rattan effect two seater sofa (opens in new tab) has handy storage within the seat, so you won't need another piece of furniture to hide away cushions, throws, gardening paraphernalia. 

25. Think vertical vertical vertical

Ikea garden furniture on small balcony

(Image credit: Ikea)

If we've said it once, and we will say it again, vertical gardening is your friend if you're looking to make the most of a small space. Style your vessel with plenty of plants to ensure you maximize the potential of your terrace space.

26. Add black accents for definition

Ikea Garden furniture

(Image credit: Ikea)

For a sophisticated finish even on a small rented apartment balcony, adding small black accents will make for a more refined finish. Think black balcony floor tiles or even a painted shelving unit and you've upped the elegance, instantly. 

27. Nod to grey for an urban finish

Argos garden furniture

(Image credit: Argos)

Go grey for an apartment balcony and you'll have created an urban paradise. From your bistro set for an al fresco breakfast setup to your balcony flooring and all the other decorative features, the continuation of this favorite neutral will expand space and up the level of design savoir faire too.

28. Keep it minimal

Simple contemporary balcony space with neutral decking

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Large balconies welcome pared back looks. Keep your sofa modern, your coffee table uncluttered and your space will be a dream.

Now go enjoy a coffee on your perfect balcony setup.

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.