​Take your balcony to new heights

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Tatiana Doria, Diseño de interiores Patios
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Who doesn't dream of having a great outdoor patio leading from their back door to the garden? A gigantic space, with a modern stone floor, that is ideal for socialising with friends, boasting some impressive garden features, or just sitting comfortably while getting lost in a good book or daydreaming…

Being an apartment dweller, however, can limit your access to a grand outdoor patio, leaving a small balcony as the nearest outdoor place where you can enjoy some outdoor air and sunlight. But here’s the good news: with a few clever tricks, you can significantly improve the visual style and possibilities of your balcony and its limited legroom, and transform it into not only an exterior of your apartment, but an outdoor area that you can enjoy and show off to friends. 

And if you have a spacious balcony attached to your house, you have even more room to be creative! Either way, you won’t find an excuse not to do something exceptional with your additional outdoor space. 

Take a look at some bright yet practical ideas we’ve gathered, and start planning…

1. Have a seat

With the right chairs, your balcony (small or spacious) can become a stylish seating area. But you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune on new balcony furniture. Why not breathe some new life into an old sofa/chair by turning it into an outdoor seat? 

Should you consider the option of purchasing new outdoor furniture, you are spoiled for choice. Some furniture pieces are quite handy, lightweight, and cost-effective – like folding chairs. Metal chairs can complement your metal balcony railing in a stunning way and transform it into a modern and harmonious little space.

Use smaller scale furniture if your balcony is a bit limited for space – don’t clutter it. And if you have adequate space, why not use it to make an outdoor living area – complete with couch(es)? 

Tip: Consider a privacy screen, or a trendy parasol for a touch of privacy (and style) on your outdoor veranda.

2. Turn the tables

If you have the extra space, a table is a must to go with your balcony seating. Whether you go for plastic, wood, or metal, a table can provide the adequate setting for dinner with friends out on the terrace, space for a board game with the city lights (or your grand garden) as backdrop, or a prime spot to enjoy your morning coffee.

Or else you can opt for a compact portable (or wall-mounted) table for your outdoor dining/working zone. And then go wild with a bright table cloth to inject some colour into your outdoor space! 

If you’re truly limited for space, just settle on a small side table. What more do you need to hold a vase of flowers – or a glass of wine? 

Tip: There is power in simplicity. Having a table on your small balcony does not force you to clutter it with trinkets. Leaving it clean and open (with one or two small decor items) will make your balcony seem bigger and more spacious.

3. Illuminate your space

Lighting options probably isn’t the first thing on your list when considering your balcony options. Well, it should be, as night-time can be the perfect backdrop for your next outdoor event. But just as you would consider your indoor lighting, make sure your outdoor choices also efficiently illuminate the designated area(s).

What do you want to use your balcony for? A small, intimate dinner for two? A social get together with some friends? Or a quiet, relaxing evening with your cat and a bestseller?  

String lights are always a strong contender, either for small or large balconies, and so are hanging lanterns (candle or electric). Just be sure that these won’t be radiating tons of bright light into your neighbour’s space. 

Tip: Consider wall lights to save on floor space. Add some hanging lights or candle lanterns to your balcony, or space out some tea-light candles on the floor. 

Shed some light on lighting professionals In-Es.Artdesign for some outdoor lighting inspiration.

4. Go green

Love gardening, but living on the 6th floor of an apartment complex? No problem – use your balcony! Green plants, flowers and plant pots can transform any balcony (however small) into a pleasant little oasis. The greenery will make your balcony seem softer, cosier, and add an element of depth and natural beauty to the space – not to mention the health benefits of being surrounded by flowers and plants. 

And here is your prime opportunity to add more colour to your balcony. The choices are up to you, but using florals with a warm palette (reds, oranges, yellows) will make your balcony come alive with colour, and add an element of brightness among your greenery. 

And if you are truly struggling with balcony space, use the wall (or railing) and try your hand at a vertical garden. You still get the lovely sight and smell of plants and flowers, but with minimum floor usage! 

Tip: Why not start an herb garden? You don’t need a lot of space at all, and tending to herbs is a lot easier than, for example, prize-winning roses.

5. A dash of colour

Whether or not you decide to go all urban garden on your balcony space is completely up to you. But should you not be the green-fingered type, why not opt for other decorations then? 

Such as: 

• Scatter cushions in the corner for a vivid injection of colour (anyone up for stargazing on the patio?)  

• Bright table cloths to enhance your outdoor seating/dining experience 

• Colourful vases and plant pots (input plastic foliage, decorating rocks, or just leave them empty) 

• A hammock (add some sea shells, a blue/green colour palette, and you have your very own beach balcony) 

• Foreign décor to bring some bohemian flavour to your balcony (such as an Asian theme, complete with lanterns, statues and colour scheme) 

• And how about throwing a nicely-patterned rug on your balcony to add an extra effect of colour? It’s your space, so make it unique!   

Take a look at Romantic Home Balcony Ideas for some fresh inspiration.

6. Add an exterior room

If your balcony has a covered roof, why not consider making it the extra room you don’t have space for in your apartment/house – like a reading room? Put a chair, small table, small bookcase or magazine rack, and adequate lighting on your balcony. Add a cup of tea (or glass of wine), plus yourself, and there you go! 

Or just make it your sun room – put a chair or lounger outside, add some cushions for colour and effect, perhaps add a table or pot plants (or both) to brighten up the space. Now add some new age / classical music (or heavy rock, your choice!) in the background, and use your new space to escape your urban surroundings, or work on your tan…  

Tip: Your balcony is also a great space for storage. Just be sure to effectively “hide” the items you’re storing to save it from looking like an exterior attic! For example, add some shelves, a cabinet with closing doors, or a trunk which can double as a small table (covered with a nice table cloth and potted flowers, of course).

What other suggestions do you have to transform a balcony into something spectacular? Tell us about it...

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