Here’s my promise to you: this in-depth guide will help you in creating a beautiful oasis to relax and entertain. No matter how tiny your outdoor space is. Does it sound good?
The lockdown experience we lived through taught us a very important lesson: the kind of spaces we live in and how they are arranged are both aspects that have a direct impact on our well being. Interior design is much more than choosing furniture. It’s about creating spaces we feel just right for us and that support our activities.
Since it’s outdoor season, today we talk about how to make the most of your balcony. I will refer to both small and medium-sized balconies. I’ll leave out large terraces and patios for which there are different design possibilities and on which it would be ideal to write a separate guide. And let’s be honest: large terraces are mostly for the movies!
– Start with the floor
– Let’s talk about privacy (shields)
– How to choose furniture
– And there was light!
– It’s decor time
Tips & tricks to make the most of your balcony. Start with the floor
Your balcony floor is with high probability is grey, boring concrete. Practical, yes, but what if it could remind you of a green field or a trip to Portugal? Luckily, there are plenty of affordable and easy to install solutions. Read on.
TIP: Before choosing the floor covering, keep in mind what kind of balcony do you have. Is it open or covered? Does it have metal or concrete railings?
A very popular solution is weather-resistant clip-together tiles that are super easy to lay down. They don’t need glue to grip on a pre-existing floor and can be cut to perfectly fit the corners and edges of your balcony. They are also very easy to clean, and that never hurts.
The most known are the Runnen tiles from IKEA: depending on the style you want to achieve, you can choose from wood-looking, stone garden, feldspar porcelain, or faux grass tiles. From a decor point of view, what I really like in these tiles is that you can mix and match them (they are all 30×30 cm) creating beautiful patterns that let you forget that boring concrete floor.
PEEL & STICK TILES
Costing a bit more than IKEA, these tiles are usable only for covered balconies or verandas because they fall off after long exposure to sun and rain. They work best with even, cement floors or ceramic tile floors.
TIP: avoid installing peel & stick tiles on cracked or damp surfaces!
I fell in love with the «Mare» collection from Tileskin that reminds me of my hometown by the sea. Etsy or Amazon are a treasure trove of stylish options for you to get inspired. Regardless the brand, when looking for peel & stick tiles make sure that they are “no-slip” (safety first) and that they are thick enough. Otherwise, they won’t last as long as other kinds of floor coverings.
If you already have a basic floor you like but want to improve the overall look, you can definitely go for outdoor carpets. They give a cozy ‘living-room-allure’ to the outdoor space. You can use a single carpet or layer some of them mixing and matching different shapes and colors.
Always check the practical aspects before the aesthetics. For outdoor carpets, you want a durable, easy to clean surface and polypropylene, for instance, is a highly weather-resistant, technical material that allows for function without giving up on form. Here below some inspiration to steal.
Tips & tricks to make the most of your balcony. Let’s talk about privacy (shields)
My balcony overlooks an internal courtyard and I have a vertical sunblind that works as a protective screen if necessary. So I didn’t feel the need to put any extra protection on the railing. But if you don’t have built-in solutions, then you can opt for some of the followings:
- Rope tension screens for railings or reed fence panels. They are very easy to install since you just need to use a cord for the former or some ties, staples, or screws for the latter. They are both practical but the former give a very modern look, while the latter a very Mediterranean.
- Build your own privacy screen or get a foldable one that can be closed when you have guests and need more space.
- Go for scenographic triangle sun shades. Still easy to install even though it needs three anchor points. You’ll be surprised to find out that this is not a solution for large terraces only.
- Buy a patio umbrella (or a half patio umbrella if your balcony is very small). They protect from the sun and the prying eyes while providing the right dose of flexibility to how you enjoy your outdoor space. Last, but not least, they also play a decorative role: who doesn’t instantly think about the days at the beach?
- Turn your balcony into a little jungle. Plants are a great and beautiful option, especially for city balconies, but need constant care and you need to consider the wind shear if you live in a tall building.
If you are asking yourself where to stock up on plants, read my tips on 5 plant shops that deliver to your doorstep. They sell both indoor and outdoor plants (and lots of garden accessories).
Tips & tricks to make the most of your balcony: how to choose furniture?
The first question you have to ask yourself before buying outdoor furniture is: what kind of activities you want to carry out on your balcony?
If your answer is to relax and unwind then the must-have piece could be a hammock or a comfy outdoor sofa. If you want to create a dining area, a table plus chairs cannot be missing. If instead, you are planning to receive friends you might want to opt for cushions, poufs, or beanbags. Either way, keep it uncluttered: go for few but good-quality pieces of furniture. Let’s have a look at some furniture pieces!
Furniture to relax and unwind
Furniture to create a beautiful dining area
TIPS: for small balconies “foldable” is a magic word. Choose space-saving pieces such as foldable hanging tables. Fermob created the Bistro table that sits 2 people and that collapses when you are done using it.
Furniture to receive guests
When on the hunt for furniture, have a look at these 5 online shops for furniture lovers.
Tips & tricks to make the most of your balcony: and there was light!
Although Summer days are long, choosing the right lighting for your balcony it’s a very important step. Avoid direct, strong lighting and opt for a more subtle one. Lanterns or dimmable ceiling/floor lamps work just perfect to create a relaxed atmosphere (and attract less insects).
I love the lighting options available at Fatboy, in particular the Bolleke hanging lamp (which is also rechargeable) and Thierry le swinger that can also turn into a standing lamp using its own beach wood stand. They also have wireless, water-resistant lamps that are just perfect for both covered and open balconies.
TIP: Use LEDs. They are maintenance-free and use far less energy than halogen lamps or incadescent bulbs.
Fatboy has a very modern and playful style but if you are looking for something more romantic you could hang up some LED lighting chains or use lanterns (especially beautiful if you arrange them in groups). Another alternative could also be foldable solar lamps with LED lights. They are very easy to hang and also a good solution when you are on the go.
Tips and tricks to make the most of your balcony: it’s decor time!
Now that you have designed the environment, it’s time to think about the decor! Vases, cushions, plants, textiles, ceramics… the only limit is your imagination! There are countless options depending on the style you love: boho chic, modern, Scandinavian, minimal, Mediterranean, and many more. I thought to complete this in-depth guide to how to make the most of your balcony with a selection of photographs that show you beautiful decor objects and their possible arrangements.