Balcony ideas: 30 ways to make the most of your small outdoor space

Get creative with these inspiring balcony ideas and ensure your compact space gets the attention it deserves

balcony ideas: glazed balcony and living wall
(Image credit: Love The Garden)

The most successful balcony ideas are the ones that can transform a compact, uninspiring area into a welcoming space that makes the most its minimal square footage. As we've all come to learn during the last year, even the smallest of outdoor spaces is worth its weight in gold, offering us a place to escape from the stresses of everyday life. 

From sitting outside in the morning with your cup of coffee or watching the sunset after a day’s work, having this little slice of outside space can work wonders to boost your mental health, which is vitally important right now. 

With your gardening dreams often confined by walls and railings, however, it’s all about getting creative and thinking outside the box. Start by considering how you can really make the most of every surface. The floor, walls, railings and even the ceiling (if your balcony has one above) can be used to hang plants or made into a feature. Team plenty of greenery with carefully chosen multifunctional furniture and storage, along with plenty of color-pop pieces, and you’ll have an inspiring space to while away the hours. 

If your garden balcony is uninspiring, these brilliant balcony ideas will help you create the perfect outdoor retreat. If you want even more ideas for your compact outside space, make sure you check out our small garden ideas too. 

1. Opt for a folding balcony bistro set 

balcony ideas bistro set dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

When buying garden furniture to suit your balcony ideas, it's important to choose space-saving pieces. Not only does this bistro set fold neatly away to maximize floor space after eating, the cheery citrus yellow shade will really make your small space sing. Team with planters in similar citrus tones to bring the entire space to life. 

Head over to our best bistro sets to find a new buy for your space or check out today's best deals below. 

2. Screen your balcony ideas to create a private space 

balcony ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

Does your balcony feel a bit exposed? Don’t fear, there are some clever balcony ideas that you can include in your space to make it feel more private. Try fixing water-resistant fabric panels around your railings like this – it will keep light coming in but help to screen the space from nosy neighbors. 

Hanging planters over railings will help create that relaxed garden feeling, while a parasol will keep things shaded and feeling intimate. For a fun twist why not tile your patio with some statement floor tiles? Because who said feature floors were just for indoors? Find more great modern paving ideas in our gallery.

3. Keep it flexible with freestanding planters

balcony ideas: raised planter

(Image credit: Maisons Du Monde)

A tall freestanding planter is a great way to create a mini high-level garden while freeing up valuable floor space for other balcony ideas. Slimline metal designs are widely available in many materials and different finishes, but this design scores extra points with its built-under shelving and nifty display upstand. 

Find more ways to introduce greenery to your space in our garden planter ideas

4. Add a pop of color with vibrant furniture

balcony ideas: yellow wall and seating area Habitat

(Image credit: Habitat)

A slender garden bar set in an eye-catching shade will lend a chic yet cheery touch to the smallest space. Lightweight and with a compact footprint they can be pushed neatly into a corner when not needed. 

Paint raised plant stands and a feature wall in the same bold shade to create a co-ordinated look that’s packed with designer flair.

5. Create a balcony kitchen area 

balcony ideas: Ikea outdoor kitchen

This kitchen features a combination of Ikea's Kolbjörn shelving unit on the base and Äpplarö outdoor wall panel on top

(Image credit: Ikea)

Outdoor kitchen ideas have become a must-have garden design feature and the trend for alfresco cooking has seen the rise of pizza ovens and built-in outdoor kitchens, but if you're limited on space it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. 

This fun kitchen station was built with inexpensive Ikea units, so why not give it a go for your balcony ideas and enjoy those summer suppers alfresco?

We think this is the perfect setup for combining with the best pizza oven too. 

6. Include a living wall in your balcony ideas

balcony ideas: Living wall pockets starter kit from Waitrose Garden

Simply fixed to the wall with wooden batons, the Wonderwall vertical planting starter kit is from Waitrose Garden

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

If you're short on floor space think vertically and learn how to make a living wall. Vertical planting systems are great for making the most of your balcony if you are a keen gardener with just a small patio and they can be a good way to hide unsightly walls. There are plenty of systems available to buy such as fabric hanging planters consisting of a series of angled individual pouches, to plastic plant pot systems. 

If you are concerned about plastic consumption then Waitrose Garden has a system (pictured) which is made from 100 percent recyclable material. It includes an economical self-watering irrigation system with each pot draining into the one below, while retaining enough for its own reservoir.

7. Hang a succulent wall panel 

balcony ideas: Leigh Clapp succulent panel

Add interest to a blank wall with a succulent wall panel

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

If you don't want an entire living wall, try a mini panel. Ideal for a sunny spot, succulent panels are an easy DIY project, but there are some kits you can buy online – try the Succulent Planter from The Urban Botanist. Succulents are very low-maintenance – simply mist the board from time to time. If you want to give it a try and make these miniature works of art yourself, you can do it with timber, chicken wire and a waterproof backing. Your green living picture will change as it grows, can be redesigned easily by adding different plants, and is often portable.  

Alternatively, if you have no time to care for the plants, get the look with this artificial succulent panel from Maisons du Monde. 

Our guide on how to grow succulents is packed with expert tips on growing them indoors and out. 

8. Create a mini garden

balcony ideas: balcony with garden sofa and plants used to create privacy

(Image credit: Chaplins)

Treat your balcony like a mini garden and invest in different shaped pots and planters to create variety and interest whatever the time of year. Adding plenty of greenery can be a great way to screen your balcony from passers-by too, creating a more private outdoor space for you to enjoy. 

Pots and containers don't just have to be reserved for plants either – why not use them for growing veg such as tomatoes or even turn them into a mini herb garden? Head over to our guide to growing vegetables in pots for practical hints and tips on how to grow your own in compact spaces. 

9. Make your balcony garden into an outdoor living room 

balcony ideas: Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Make your balcony feel like an extension of your living area by kitting it out with a sofa, armchair, coffee table, rug and even a standing lamp. We love this mix of an on-trend cane armchair and a sleek metal sofa in a vibrant red.  Ramp up the comfort factor with plenty of textiles and accessories and you'll soon be curling up outdoors. 

Now all you need is the best outdoor projector and you’re ready for a great night in… or should we say out?

10. Jazz up your flooring...

balcony ideas: covered balcony space with patterned floor tiles

(Image credit: Stone & Ceramic Warehouse)

Jazz up your balcony space in an instant by investing in some decorative tiles to add pattern and color underfoot. A bold approach can look fabulous, but in a small space like this it's a good idea to keep the rest of the scheme plain so the tiles become the focal point. Choose accessories in similar tones to tie the whole look together. You'll find more brilliant paving ideas in our gallery. 

11. ...or keep it chic in black and white

balcony ideas: monochrome paving and hammock

(Image credit: Topp Tiles)

Simple garden color schemes can work wonders in a small space, and you can’t beat classic black and white for a timeless look. Team monochrome flooring with matching accessories for a chic space that will always look on trend. 

Porcelain floor tiles are brilliant choice for sprucing up your outside space. Durable, non-slip and easy to maintain they can inject a burst of color or pattern in a jiffy. Choose a design that suits your style. Vintage floral designs add movement and touch of traditional elegance while mono geometrics strike a bolder, city-smart note that works perfectly alongside lush foliage and cool metallics. 

12. Fill your balcony garden with plants

balcony ideas: balcony planting

Ferm Living flower boxes, available from Amazon

(Image credit: Ferm Living)

Just because you don’t have borders it doesn’t mean your balcony can’t be a green and verdant plant haven. To maximize floor space, opt for hanging planters and plant pot holders which can be fitted over the railings.

There's more inspiration for adding scent and color to compact spaces in our window box ideas feature. 

13. Maximize the view from a balcony with a glass railing

balcony ideas: living wall and glass balustrade

A glazed balcony will help to enhance the feeling of space

(Image credit: Love The Garden)

If you're lucky enough to have a beautiful view, ensure you get to enjoy it in all in its glory by opting for a glass safety balustrade to complete your balcony ideas in style. It means the trees and planting beyond your balcony will be drawn into your space, creating a true indoor/outdoor feel. 

This living wall is bang on trend and makes a dramatic outdoor feature. The aim is to create a close-knit tapestry with the best foliage plants, so consider including tactile and shade-tolerant varieties such as Maidenhair Fern, Sedge grass, Heuchera and Tiarella. Add even more depth to the look by nestling a few large planters up close to the wall, to blur floor and wall together.

We also love the way in which these oversized floor cushions and low-level table give this balcony a relaxed vibe that would work well with our other small Japanese garden ideas

14. Choose slim but colorful outdoor seating 

balcony ideas: colourful garden furniture balcony

(Image credit: Maisons du Monde)

When you’re limited on floorspace, consider what style of furniture you choose. Opting for lightweight furniture with slim profile tubular metal legs will help make the space feel airy and spacious and won’t obscure the view. These string designs create a contemporary look and add a cheery splash of color to the space. 

Find more outdoor seating ideas in our edit of the latest looks. 

15. Paint your walls...

balcony ideas: white painted garden wall with plants hanging on the wall

Wall painted in Dulux’s Weathershield all weather masonry paint in Concrete Grey

(Image credit: Dulux)

The best balcony ideas mean considering every surface, so don't forget about giving your walls a makeover to improve the overall look of the space. If you've got a brick wall as your backdrop, it's easy to paint over the dark bricks in a colored masonry paint of your choice to lighten the feel of your scheme. What's more, masonry paint will protect the bricks from the winter weather too – it's a win win right? 

Opting for a good neutral shade will provide you with a blank canvas for the rest of your scheme. 

16. ...or add a fun paint effect

balcony ideas: paint effect on wall

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Make the most of limited walls by treating them to a dash of color. While a plain color wall can reflect light or create a particular mood, a simple design in your favorite shades will instantly personalize your balcony ideas. 

Here, three vertical bands of vibrant color inject energy into a tiny space and strike a contemporary note against the smart steel bistro set.

Head over to our best bistro sets to find a new buy for your space or check out today's best deals below. 

17. Opt for clever foldaway furniture 

balcony ideas: balcony furniture ideas

(Image credit: Maisons du Monde)

Even the best garden furniture can take up a lot of valuable floor space which can be a problem for balconies where space is at a premium, but that needn't mean you can’t pull up a perch and have breakfast alfresco thanks to a clever space-saving buy. This brilliant design can be be easily folded down to a vertical position, maximizing space when it’s not in use.

18. Go big on pattern and color

balcony ideas: colourful balcony garden

Create a holiday vibe with vibrant furniture and accessories

(Image credit: Maisons du Monde)

If you’re too busy to tend to flower pots then a patterned or colourful rug and vibrant furniture will add instant personality. Choose bold geometric patterns in monochrome shades as the backdrop to your scheme as these will work well with a wide range of colours, then add a punch of personality with holiday-inspired seating in tropical hues that are guaranteed to lift your mood every time you step out on your balcony. 

19. Add a rug or two to your balcony

balcony ideas: balcony with yellow chair and outdoor rug

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

The best outdoor rugs are a must for any cosy balcony ideas. They help to replicate the feel of an indoor living space outdoors, and modern designs are just as luxurious underfoot as their indoor counterparts. 

Look out for hardwearing products made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles to up your eco points too. If you want to add more interest to your space, consider choosing two or three patterned and plain designs and layering them up for a decorative effect. 

20. Create the illusion of space with a mirror

balcony ideas: outdoor mirrors

(Image credit: National Trust)

Ok, so we can't magic more space on our balconies or patios, so why not try the next best thing – making them appear bigger than they are with the power of reflection! There are plenty of mirrors on the market suitable for hanging on an outdoor wall in an array of different styles, from contemporary through to traditional. 

Find more ways to display your outdoor mirrors in our garden mirror ideas feature. 

21. Create a balcony kitchen garden with a veg planter

balcony ideas: veg trug in garden

This Veg Trug (available from Amazon) comes with a purpose-built, fitted membrane to give seedlings a great start

(Image credit: Veg Trug)

While you may not have a big allotment or walled garden, you can still grow plenty of homegrown produce from just a small patch on a patio or balcony thanks to a raised planter. Perfect for salad, strawberries or herbs, there are a variety of raised planters which will ensure you have an easy working height. 

Want to know more about growing your own? Our small vegetable garden ideas are a great place to start your growing journey. 

22. Add a rocking chair to create an idyllic reading nook

balcony ideas: Ikea

Choose one piece of statement furniture as the focal point of your space

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you only have a small outdoor area, chances are a full five-piece garden furniture set is off limits for your balcony ideas, but why not treat yourself to a really comfy statement chair? A rocking chair would make the perfect soothing spot to while away the afternoon with a good book. 

23. Got for a traditional balcony with ornate furniture

balcony ideas: balcony garden furniture

Add a decorative touch with classic metal furniture

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

If a more traditional look is what you’re after, then a metal bistro set with intricate vintage-inspired detailing is the perfect choice. We think it gives this space an instant injection of Parisian chic. If you’re after authentic pieces try places like Lassco or Lorfords

24. Create a botanical display with a wire memo board

balcony ideas: Ikea

Get creative with your balcony ideas to add interest to your design

(Image credit: Ikea)

Why not brighten up plain walls and extend your gardening space by mounting wire trellis or memo board and using it to hang bud vases for propagating cuttings or growing bulbs. Test tube vases are very cheap to buy online – simply attach some wire around the lip and hang from the grid using a S hook.

These clever solutions would work just as well for your indoor garden ideas too. 

25. Embrace vertical planting with a clever hack 

balcony ideas: Ikea

Furniture and accessories from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Step aside hanging basket ideas, there’s a new way to display your plants and it costs next to nothing; introducing the Ikea vertical planter hack using nothing other than a waste bin and carrier bag holder! Yes that’s right, simply mount the Variera wastebinand Variera plastic bag dispenser on the wall and you can use it to grow succulents and bulbs. Genius! 

26. Make your balcony garden an exotic escape

balcony ideas: moroccan balcony idea

(Image credit: The White Company)

Looking to create a relaxing space with a holiday feel? Take inspiration from the rooftop terraces of North Africa for your balcony ideas. While you may not have the white painted walls, adding low level benches covered in cushions and sheepskin rugs, plus plenty of tropical plants will help recreate the look. Don't forget to add plenty of lanterns and tea-lights to guarantee a magical holiday atmosphere. 

Head over to our garden lighting ideas for more ways to add a dose of foreign getaways. 

27. Create a luxurious balcony with a simple curtain 

balcony ideas: covered balcony

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Oh to be on a Tuscan terrance like this right now! To capture the feeling of this dreamy space why not hang a voile curtain which will bring an air of luxury but will also help shade your balcony from the scorching midday sun.

It's also a perfect way to boost your garden privacy ideas and screen your balcony from neighbors. 

28. Try a festival feel with hanging lanterns 

balcony ideas: balcony garden with lanterns

(Image credit: Ikea)

The best balcony ideas make the most of all the available surfaces. If you have a balcony above yours, hanging lanterns from the ceiling is a cheap and easy way to create a party atmosphere casting a magical glow after the sun goes down. Solar pendant lights are a practical choice and can be dotted about at different heights to make a real feature overhead. 

29. Choose space-saving furniture

balcony ideas: dining area on a balcony covered by a sail shade

Paris Volcano garden table and stackable chairs from Bridgman

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Foldable or stackable furniture is the key to balcony happiness! You need a design that looks great when you’re using it every day during the summer months, but one that can be neatly stored away to one side of the space when the seasons change. 

A sail shade is also a great addition to your balcony ideas too – it takes up minimal space, provides plenty of shade from the sun in summer and adds a cozier atmosphere to autumn evenings alfresco. You can find more easy ways to create shade in your garden with our guide. 

30. Use a simple bench for seating

balcony ideas: bench and festoon lights

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Adding seating to your balcony space doesn't have to mean blowing your budget. An inexpensive bench can be all that's needed to create a comfy spot to sit and read outdoors. Bring a couple of cushions outside to add a touch of comfort and you're good to go. 

Contemporary aluminium benches are the best choice for low-maintenance balcony ideas as they can withstand all weather and don't require any upkeep. If you want to really keep the costs down, why not have a go at making a DIY bench? Our guide on how to build a pallet bench is a great place to start. 

What vegetables can be grown on a balcony?

balcony ideas: raised garden planter

Planter from Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Provided they get enough food and water, practically any vegetable can be grown on a balcony. Where space is tight, stick to climbing or tumbling varieties for your balcony ideas. Most beans, squash, cucumbers and peas can all be trained up trellis or obelisks while strawberries, cherry tomatoes, chillies and peppers will thrive in hanging baskets. If you fancy growing root crops, then look for large scale planters or narrow but tall raised beds. 

Fill with good quality compost and keep well fed and watered and they should reward you over the warmer months. The most prolific and speediest veg to grow has to be lettuce or a mix of salad leaves. Look for a cut-and-come-again seed mix and sow every six weeks for a continual supply from late spring to fall.

What plants are good for a balcony?

balcony ideas: Dobbies bistro set in courtyard

Garden furniture and planters from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Besides fast-growing crops such as salad leaves and nasturtiums, look for foliage plants that are happy growing in pots and will provide color and greenery all year. 

Bamboo is great for adding height, filling out a corner and rustles delightfully in a breeze. Phormiums and cordylines have striking, strappy leaves in a wide range of bold colours and need little care and attention. 

With its glossy and distinctive foliage, Fatsia japonica makes an eye-catching statement in the smallest of spaces, it can cope with sun or full shade and adds a tropical touch.

Our container gardening ideas has plenty more suggestions for creating striking plant displays in a small space. 

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is Style Editor for Period Living magazine and spends many a weekend exploring the Cotswolds for decorating shoot ideas. When she's not writing about homes and gardens for Period Living and Homes & Gardens, you'll probably find her pottering on her Gloucestershire allotment, called Pippa's Plot, where she has cultivated a stunning cutting garden so she can grow flowers for styling her own home and interiors shoots.