DIY Guide To Transform Your Tiny Balcony

A balcony is the ultimate amenity for city dwellers. Come, discover balcony ideas with me as I transform my outdoor space—no matter how tiny it is.

A private outdoor space is a dream for most people living in city apartments— and a small balcony is the closest most of us will ever come to having our own gardens. If you have a garden AND a balcony consider yourself lucky. And if you have a balcony, then you owe it to yourself —to make the most of it. This means doing more than putting out a chair and calling it a day. No matter how tiny it is, your balcony has plenty of design potential. Need some ideas and inspo? Read on to find 8 balcony design tips and see how I transformed my balcony top to bottom.

The Before After

For most of us residing in big cities and working from home during lockdown, having a well-designed balcony, away from the four walls, amidst the breeze, greenery and blue skies  could mean literal paradise. There’s nothing more fulfilling than having a balcony in your busy city home or apartment, especially in times like this, where you can answer a few emails or spend evenings lounging with your family. Make your balcony a space to kick back and catch up while the world passes by below. Whether you want to soak up the sun or curl up with a book, read the news or solve a sudoku, a nicely laid out balcony is all you need for a restful retreat. A balcony can be the ultimate place for spending an evening watching the sunset, drinking tea, candlelit dinners, having fun and socialising.

How It All Started

Make an initial sketch of your dream balcony layout after measuring the space, let the balcony design evolve as you go along. Since most outdoor spaces have spatial constraints, you must plan your layout effectively. One of the first things you want to keep in mind while designing a balcony is the layout of placements such as where you would want the plants, seating. Also, you need to make sure that the plants that require maximum sunlight are placed and positioned accordingly. From growing vertical plants on the wall or railing to having wooden tiles on some section of your balcony, there’s no end to how creative you can get. But, nothing is better than happy hour on the balcony. 

Of Dreams and Moodboards
  1. Create A Theme and Style

You could choose from vintage, bohemian, modern and others and then choose a colour palette, materials, elements to go with your chosen theme and style. Create a style board with a collection of balcony images you like so you always know where you are going. I wanted a laid back, private, beautiful, pet-friendly and comfortable space. I wasn’t big on themes or styles but was particular about a minimal earthy colour palette, using natural materials like wood, stone, cotton, burlap, twine, seashells, and metal in place of plastic throughout.

Choosing Materials and Colour Palette

2. Add a Small Table

Most balconies are short on space so use it wisely. All you need to enjoy your morning coffee on your balcony is a café table and a chair. Choose one that folds up easily so you can store it inside if necessary. Or,get one that attaches to the railing and folds down when not in use, like I did. Our table is height adjustable so it doubles up nicely not just as a cafe table but also a study table when required. I also added a small round wrought iron table that holds up some artefacts/votives/incense burners very nicely. 

3. Install Variety Of Seating Options

Maximize your guest comfort with at least three different kinds of seating options – choose from bench seating, folding chairs, a hammock, a swing, an arm chair, colourful floor cushions, a beanbag, bar stools and/or add pattern with an outdoor rug. You may be in the city, but there’s no reason your balcony can’t feel like you’re on vacation. A beachy wicker hammock can create an instant laid-back vibe and amp up the style quotient. One thing to keep in mind when choosing outdoor furniture –  is to be sure to choose ones that will stand up to the elements, or you’ll need to bring them in everyday. 

Not Just A Chair

4. Bring in greenery

There’s no such thing as too many plants. Pack your balcony with planters filled with lush plants to create the feel of that backyard you’ve always wanted. Or add one big statement plant like I did with the fiddle leaf fig. To save space and also create drama at different eye levels, install a shelving unit to display potted plants. I used a macrame hanging shelf that shows off my cute succulents in colourful planters. Since floor space is precious, use your wall space to hang planters to help your balcony feel like an extension of the view outside. I installed two owl wall brackets and hung lush green ferns in maroon ceramic pots. Last but not the least, surround yourself with flowers.

You may not have room for a dining area (or even a chair), but there’s always space for flowers. Embrace space-saving designs such as the balcony rail hanging planters to sweeten your view and add to your home’s curb appeal. I installed five railing planters with colourful geraniums and they’ve been a daily source of endless joy!

Colours With Flowers

5. Use Wall Space For Art And Decor Accents

Hang weather-resistant art to help your balcony feel like an extension of your home. I hung a large vintage, distressed embroidered botanical art piece and a Balinese wooden evil eye face mask. Not just art, I got some music going on too with three different wind chimes – two made of seashells and a third made of a dried leaf and wood. And they sing in the wind and how!

6. Light It Up

Give yourself plenty of light for late-night hangouts by installing an outdoor pendant or sconces. If you’re feeling bohemian, go for string lights or outdoor lanterns. I have a combination of a wall light in distressed white and lanterns, votives, hurricanes, candle stands, incense burners and string lights.

Light Up

7. Give Yourself Some Privacy

If your balcony is right up against your neighbor’s, add tall plants like bamboo to create a natural wall. You can also hang bamboo shades that can be raised and lowered as needed. Billowy outdoor curtains offer a luxurious vibe. I used opaque, white, weather-resistant, outdoor curtains that can be drawn on and off and when not in use they are held back with nautical-style twine rope tassels. Beachy much!

8. Add Some Shade

Enjoy your balcony in any weather with a retractable awning or tilting stand-alone umbrella that will protect you, rain or shine. Go for a classic stripe, or opt for a bold color to make your balcony stand out. Luckily, I didn’t need shade on our east-facing balcony which is shielded from direct sunlight as the sun moves towards the south through the day. 

One Balcony But A Lifetime Of Memories

I’m currently working on our front porch overlooking our garden to make it more hangout friendly and maybe have a cup of tea or two when we want to – a place we currently use only to briefly receive the few friends who visit us or receive daily home deliveries and of course to park our bicycles. Let’s see how that goes – lockdown home improvement 101 it is! 

Let me know if you found these tips useful – or just say hello! Stay safe!