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When you want to spend time and relax in the sun, no space is too small to appreciate. Even the tiniest of balconies can be an excellent place to hang out on a lazy summer morning, and the right balcony ideas and decor can help you live way beyond its petite footprint. It's all about using smart balcony decorating ideas to help you max out your space and your style.
Few balconies are as large—or as intrinsically functional—as a patio or deck, so they shouldn't be treated like one. Instead of trying to make your small space into something it's not, get honest about how you want it to function and what's most important to you before putting in the work that will help you make the most of your outdoor chill zone. You may not be able to squeeze in a reading nook, dining area, and herb garden, but you can definitely do one of those things really, really well.
Not sure where to start? Well, you're in luck. We've pulled a ton of inspiration for you, with the express purpose of helping you achieve a major balcony upgrade with very little time and money this summer. From strategic furniture layouts and unique privacy screens to the ideal party-ready accessory for your alfresco escape (hint: it starts with bar and ends with cart), these balcony decorating ideas will help you transform your outdoor space into a resort-worthy hangout zone you'll be proud to share with friends and family.
Add Window Boxes
Window boxes are your friends! Window-box blooms—like these on a balcony by Gary McBournie—will instantly upgrade your entire exterior. They can be even more stunning than potted plants since they're at eye level where you can really appreciate them.
Upgrade the Railing
If you're renovating your home's balcony, it's the perfect time to upgrade some of the builder-grade features, like basic trim, to something custom or special. Here, design duo Ben and Erin Napier added an intricate gingerbread-style railing to their porch. It's a period detail with a lot of charm.
Furnish It Like a Living Room
The sitting area you have outside should be just as inviting as the one inside—even if it's smaller. Decorate your balcony with creature comforts like pillows, throws, and candles. This space by Marguerite Rodgers incorporates balcony decorating ideas that emphasize coziness and conversation, like an upholstered couch, soft blankets, and mood lighting.
Use Plants for Privacy
Lending your balcony space a sense of calm and seclusion doesn't have to be expensive (or permanent). Instead of installing a screen or hanging curtains, opt to dangle oversize hanging planters in any opening, as designer Dee Murphy did here. Not only will they add some much-needed greenery to your space, but they'll effectively block any prying eyes from peeking in.
Break It Into Zones
If your balcony has enough space, carve out two separate areas to double its functionality. This roomy L-shaped balcony designed by Keesha Franklin of Halden Interiors features a separate lounge and eating area, so it has an outdoor living room and a dining room that overlooks the cityscape.
Repeat the Same Materials
Have several smaller balcony spaces you want to unite? Create synergy among them all by repeating a few "signature" finishes or materials in each one. Here, designer Tamsin Johnson relied on stone tiles in a classic checkerboard pattern (plus metal frame furniture) to tie together the three levels.
Opt for Glass Doors
When it comes to making the most of indoor-outdoor living, architectural upgrades that ease the transition between the two spaces are key. Here, designer Kathleen McCormick chose grand floor-to-ceiling steel-and-glass doors for her home office, which leads to a minimalist balcony and makes it feel like she's working outside even when she's at her desk.
Equip It for Parties
If you want your balcony to be a bonus space where you can have fun, add a bar cart to make it party ready. This waterfront balcony by Gary McBournie has just enough room for a slim rattan one. It's perfect for pouring a Dark and Stormy and watching the tide roll in.
Choose Paint Wisely
The right shade of paint can help your balcony blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. On this classic balcony, decorator Amanda Lindroth chose this sneaky shade of green paint, a pretty pastel that's so soft your eye may just skip over it and focus on the beautiful view instead.
Try Wood Slatting
This deck area by Malcolm Simmons relies on rustic wood slatting to lend a bit of privacy and hang planters. It's tricky to decorate small spaces like this so they feel comfortable but not crowded. He aces the formula with a cozy throw, layered outdoor rugs, and two impactful pillows.
Repurpose Gardening Tools
An old wagon becomes a gardening display on this dreamy balcony overlooking the ocean designed by Kim Dempster and Erin Martin. You could also turn a wheelbarrow into a bar cart or use a trellis to support bistro lights.
Look for Vintage Furniture
For something affordable and stylish, set up a seating area with antique chairs, like these on a balcony designed by Tamsin Johnson Interiors. Vintage patio furniture is great because all you need is a new cushion to make it look fresh again, and you don't have to be too precious about protecting it from the elements. After all, the aged look is what makes it so charming.
Create a Sense of Privacy
Don't let a shared space deter you from enjoying the fresh air. A simple room divider can give you instant privacy if your outdoor area abuts a neighbor's, plus it's a nice backdrop for furnishings. The gray fence designer Joshua Greene used here blends in and lets the many real and faux plants stand out.
Make It a Focal Point
Take advantage of a postcard-worthy view by arranging the primary furniture in your room to face the balcony. If your terrace is narrow or it's just a Juliette balcony, don't load it up with furniture and décor that'll block the view, and keep your window treatments minimal. A bare bedroom balcony looks more romantic, as evidenced by this Romanek Studio–designed space.
Install a Swing
Swing benches aren't just for porches! If your balcony has an overhang, secure a swing so you can really relax and take in the view. Just make sure to check with your building's ordinances first if you live in an apartment or condo.
Take Advantage of the View
If your balcony is big enough, turn it into an outdoor dining room. Here, instead of a sitting area, there's a casual dining area for alfresco meals. Facing the sea and decorated only with tropical plants, this pared-down balcony keeps the focus on nature.
Add a Sun Cover
The more functionality you can bring to your balcony space, the more you'll be able to use it. To give yourself relief on especially hot days, cover your balcony to create shade and protection from the elements. You don't have to build a permanent overhead structure—instead, secure outdoor fabric or a tarp to corner pillars for a resort-worthy look.
Choose Multipurpose Furniture
Small spaces push you to get creative with your decor, often with ingenious results. Instead of a coffee table, Anna Spiro Design opted for a pair of ottomans that can double as footrests. This way, the homeowners can kick back or push them together and set a tray on top to hold drinks or snacks.
Use Space-Saving Furniture
You don't need to have an expansive balcony to put it to good use. Opt for space-saving furniture, like this rugged wood bench, then make it cozy and inviting with a sheepskin throw. The perfect finishing touch? A fiddle-leaf fig tree in the corner.
Hang a Bold Pendant Light
An eye-catching pendant light is a great way to jazz up your balcony without shelling out money on a major change. To ensure it blends into the rest of your space, look for fixtures that incorporate nature-inspired materials such as wood, ceramic, rattan, or metallics, as seen in this space by Commune Design.
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