Decorating balconies and small patios
If you’re able to get your hands on a spot with a balcony, chances are you want to make the most of it. A balcony is an extension of your living space, but it’s an area that’s easy to overlook when it comes to decorating, especially if it’s itty bitty and you live in a place where there’s only really warm sunny weather a few months of the year. But, that’s what makes it so worth it. Small spaces are an affordable way to have fun and take some risks, and that extra TLC can turn it into one of your favourite places to enjoy your favourite summer days and favourite summer nights.
Here are some tips to make your outdoor area (whether teeny or sprawling) feel more exciting, pulled together, and add character to boot.
Think about scale and intention
Before you start, think about the size of space you’re working with and how you want to enjoy it. If you have a really large area to work with, a two-person bistro set with nothing else isn’t going to give you the warm fuzzies but you can make that more functional and still cozy with zoning for different activities (dining, lounging, etc.), or opt for larger pieces that are are in-scale with your outdoor area. If you have a really tiny zone, scale down your furniture or go intentionally off the beaten track. And don't feel like you need to get a dining set just because you have a balcony - think about how you want to use your space and what your lifestyle is like - and build on that. You'll see a number of shots below showing how laidback, super comfy balconies (think outdoor living rooms) can really rival a more traditional setup.
Colour palettes are also worth noting. Think of this space as another room — it should coordinate with your home’s interior in just the same way.
If you’re lucky to have walls on the side of your balcony, use them to your advantage. Incorporating shelving units, trellises, and rails add flexibility that can be used to display greenery, store seasonal items like BBQ tools, and even hang folding chairs or spare cushions. Simple open shelves and wall hooks can go a long way to make a relaxed, but polished utilitarian statement to stow and display almost anything, while wire trellises offer a clean, minimal way to display plants and string lights, or a wall of wooden slats allows you to easily move around shelving.
Finding pieces that are multifunctional gives you the chance to save space and entertain more guests. Modular seating that can be easily moved around offers different arrangements for guests, small folding chairs can be collapsed in a second, and tables with drop leaves mean you can have more space when you're not feeding a crowd. Topping crates with a cushion is also a super affordable way to add some casual seating while also making room for storage, and the seating doubles as a lounger to soak up the sun or a bench to casually seat a party of two (or three or four, if you're best buds and don’t mind getting cozy)! Small folding chairs are also a great way to add seating and take up minimal room. If possible, you could even free up some floor space and hang them from the wall. Or, if you’re working with a really small footprint and want to take a softer approach, fill your space with a cushion for a super relaxed free-spirit kind of vibe!
Another way to save both some money and space is to consider how you can combine pieces you already own. Add a top to a basket to create a table where you can keep extra blankets or candles handy for chilly nights, and small stools that stack can also be used as a table topped with a tray, and can be taken apart for casual seating when entertaining guests. If you have existing pieces that work well but don't feel so exciting or jive with your existing colour scheme, give new life to your furniture with a fresh coat of colourful paint.
curl up in a coocoon
This one is pretty straightforward, but does anything say summer quite like a hammock? Bonus points for added pillows!
Cover up a drab floor (AND RAILINGS)
Balcony floors have a tendency to err on the colder (unpleasant) side. Sometimes the industrial vibe works, but most of the time it could use some help. Don't be afraid to have fun with flooring! Incorporate artificial grass or decking, and layer a rug. You can snag this super easy click flooring from IKEA, or consider giving a fresh coat of paint to existing floor tiles, like in the quick and dirty DIY below by Tiffany Pratt for HGTV. Another fun option is laying down some astro turf (also available at IKEA or many hardware stores) to create your own mini lawn in the sky, then top either option with your favourite outdoor rug.
Make it your tropical hideaway! If you're working with a railing that's cramping your style, try adding bamboo siding to create the ultimate escape. Reed fencing adds a private, tiki vibe for relaxed summer days and festive summer nights.
Light it up
There’s something special about being on a balcony surrounded by city lights, but you can up the ante with a healthy dose of your own for an ethereal vibe. Varying heights with strings of industrial or paper lanterns gives the perfect ambient lighting, and scattering candle lit lanterns at different levels really sets the mood.
Go wild with greenery
It feels almost impossible to go overboard with this one. Layer heights and types of plants: from potted plants on the floor and side tables, longer boxes along the rail, and ones scaling the wall. There’s something so romantic, whimsical, and calming about incorporating nature in this way, plus it can also help give you and your guests some privacy. My opinion on greenery is the more wild, the better.
Dare I go on? Enjoy your little urban oasis in the sky! ☁️