Outdoor Living

12 Ideas to Deck Out Your Small Balcony—Without Sacrificing Space

With room for a bistro table, lounge chair, plants, and more.

August  2, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

Ah, a balcony. The city-living dream. We can give up in-unit laundry, a parking space, and a second bedroom, so long as there’s a teeny bit of outdoor space to bask in. It’s simply one of those things that make living in a city apartment all worth it, because you’ve got your own slice of outside without having to actually leave.

That said, in most areas, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a balcony that’s bigger than 20 square feet, which means space is at a premium, and smart solutions for fitting all the things you want out there are essential. While sometimes you’ll need to make the tough decisions between bistro table or vegetable garden, bar or outdoor sectional, sometimes it’s just a matter of employing smart ways to use the small space.

Read on for our favorite small balcony ideas you’ll want to replicate in your own outdoor oasis.

1. Cover Up Sterile Concrete

By and large, balcony floors are made of concrete, and while it’s durable, it’s usually not very attractive and definitely not comfortable underfoot. To combat this, you can lay down interlocking wood deck tiles, which warm up the space, cover up the concrete, and allow drainage underneath when it rains or when you need to water your plants.

2. Hang Privacy Potted Plants

If you’re low on space and short on privacy (say, your balcony overlooks a courtyard or parking lot) this genius way to add florals and greenery does double duty. Not only does it take advantage of the underutilized vertical space, as the plants grow they’ll create a makeshift privacy screen that still lets the sun dapple in.

3. Turn the Railing Into Bar Seating

For balconies with a view (and not much walking-around room), consider turning the railing itself into a bar table. Here, the balcony owner made a simple bar with 2x4s and hung it from the railing with rope, no drilling or damage needed.

4. Hang Herbs from the Bar

Take advantage of a rail-mounted bar even further by dangling a few potted herbs, which will love the sunlight that comes in for them.

5. Install a Bamboo Screen

For immediate tropical vacation vibes (and protection from neighbors’ prying eyes), roll out a classic bamboo screen onto your railing.

6. Hang a Chair from the Ceiling

Who needs to take up precious real estate on the floor when a chair can hover over it? This particularly small balcony forgoes a traditional chair or chaise, and instead has a delightful swing chair as seating.

7. Add a Fold-Up Bar

Sure, a permanent bar on the balcony is lovely, but what happens when you want space for a morning yoga session, and you can’t get around the assortment of clattering bottles? A bar that folds up into the wall (with hidden booze and supplies storage) is the perfect solution.

8. While You’re At It, Add a Folding Table, Too

If you’re someone who prefers to lounge on a bench or chair over dining alfresco on your balcony, then why take up permanent space with a full table and chairs? A folding table mounted to the wall comes down when you need it, and goes up when you don’t.

9. Consider Curtains for Shade & Privacy

Yep, balconies can have curtains, too. While soaking up the sun on a relaxing Saturday afternoon is ideal, working directly in the sun on a Wednesday might get too hot, and you’ll be thankful for some shade. Plus, adding flowing drapes to your space makes it feel immediately cabana-like.

10. Hide Extra Seating with Nesting Chairs

This idea seems plucked right out of a tiny home, and works double time. You can store garden supplies and extra pillows under the bench, hidden by the stools, and pull them out when you have multiple guests to accommodate.

11. Go for a Wall-to-Wall Lounger

If you know you’re most likely to be napping and sunbathing on your balcony, skip multiple chairs or a dining set and go wall-to-wall with a cushiony lounge.

12. Build In Seating

Work with your balcony, not against it. In this case, two bistro chairs might have been great, but they take up more space than one chair combined with a built-in bench in the corner. The fluffy plant wall and cozy throw pillows don’t hurt either.

Do you have any tricks for maximizing space on a small balcony? Tell us your secrets below!

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.