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 this 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 colour-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 outside space, make sure you check out our garden design ideas gallery too.
1. Opt for a folding balcony bistro set
When buying garden furniture for a balcony it's important to choose space-saving pieces. Not only does this Freya bistro set from Dobbies fold neatly away to maximise 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.
2. Screen your balcony to create a private space
Does your balcony feel a bit exposed? Don’t fear, there are things you can do 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 neighbours! 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 paving ideas in our gallery.
3. Create a balcony kitchen area
An outdoor kitchen area has become a must-have garden design feature and the trend for alfresco cooking has seen the rise of pizza ovens and even 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 a combination of Ikea's Kolbjörn shelving unit on the base and Äpplarö outdoor wall panel – why not give it a go and enjoy those summer suppers alfresco?
4. Include a living wall
If you're short on floor space think vertically and create 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. Simply fixed to the wall with wooden batons, the Wonderwall vertical planting starter kit includes an economical self-watering irrigation system with each pot draining into the one below, while retaining enough for its own reservoir.
5. Hang a succulent wall panel
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 to how to grow succulents is packed with expert tips on growing them indoors and out.
6. Create a mini garden
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.
7. Make your balcony into an outdoor living room
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 Ikea's on-trend cane Mastholmen armchair and sleek metal Brusen sofa which are both lightweight and easily moved. Now all you need is that outdoor projector and you’re ready for a great night in… or should we say out?
8. Jazz up your flooring
Jazz up your balcony space in an instant by investing in some decorative tiles to add pattern and colour 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.
9. Fill your balcony with plants
Just because you don’t have borders it doesn’t mean your balcony can’t be a green and verdant plant haven. To maximise floor space, opt for hanging planters and plant pot holders such as these Ferm Living flower boxes which can be fitted over the railings.
10. Choose slim but colourful outdoor seating
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. Try these Bogota string designs from Maisons du Monde which add a cheery splash of colour.
11. Paint your walls
In a small space you need to consider 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 coloured 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? Dulux’s Weathershield all weather masonry paint in Concrete Grey is a good neutral shade that will provide you with a blank canvas for the rest of your scheme.
12. Opt for clever foldaway furniture
Outdoor 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 this fantastic find. Maisons du Monde's foldaway metal balcony table can be easily folded down to a vertical position maximising space when it’s not in use.
13. Go big on pattern and colour
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.
14. Add a rug or two
Outdoor rugs are a must for any cosy outdoor balcony space. 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.
15. Create the illusion of space with a mirror
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 these traditional Gothic style mirrors from National Trust shop.
16. Create a balcony kitchen garden with a veg planter
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 available including the popular Veg Trug which has an easy working height and comes with a purpose-built, fitted membrane to give seedlings a great start. Want to know more about growing your own? Our small vegetable garden ideas is a great place to start your growing journey.
17. Add a rocking chair to create an idyllic reading nook
If you only have a small balcony, chances are a full five-piece garden furniture set is off limits, 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. For a similar design try Ikea's Gubbön indoor/outdoor rocking chair.
18. Create a traditional balcony with ornate furniture
If a more traditional look is what you’re after, then a metal bistro set with intricate vintage-inspired detailing is the perfect choice. If you’re after authentic pieces try places like Lassco or Lorfords, alternatively Wayfair have plenty of new garden furniture sets inspired by antique designs such as this Wayne 4-seater garden set.
19. Create a botanical display with a wire memo board
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.
20. Embrace vertical planting with a clever hack
Step aside hanging baskets, 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. And all for under a fiver. Genius!
21. Make your balcony an exotic escape
Looking to create a relaxing balcony space with a holiday feel? Take inspiration from the rooftop terraces of North Africa for your garden lighting ideas. While you may not have the white painted walls, adding low level benches covered in cushions and sheepskin rugs from The White Company, plus plenty of tropical plants will help recreate the look, not forgetting plenty of lanterns and tea-lights to guarantee a magical holiday atmosphere.
22. Create a luxurious balcony with a simple curtain
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.
23. Create a festival feel with hanging lanterns
Make the most of the surfaces you have. 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. These Solvinden white LED solar-powered globe lanterns from Ikea can be dotted about at different heights to make a real feature overhead.
24. Choose space-saving furniture
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 a balcony too – it takes up minimal space, provides plenty of shade from the sun in summer and adds a cosier atmosphere to autumn evenings alfresco. Find more easy ways to create shade in your garden with our guide.