Small Balcony Ideas For Apartment Living

Small Balcony Ideas For Apartment Living

If you live in an apartment or condo, having a small outdoor space to call your own can feel like a distant dream. The best you can hope for is a small patio or balcony overlooking the world below. If you’re lucky, there might even be enough space for a grill, but if not, we’ve got some great apartment patio ideas to inspire your creative side.

No, it is not the same as a backyard full of green grass or lush garden beds. But your apartment terrace can still serve as a personal retreat from your four walls at home. Whether in an urban high-rise or a suburban apartment, we all need a little fresh air from time to time.

To get the most out of your apartment’s patio, you need to treat it with the same love and attention as any other part of your home. Adding some outdoor furniture and decorations will make your patio feel like an extension of your living space – even if it’s only a few square feet.

If you’re ready to transform your balcony into an open-air oasis, read on to find the best apartment patio ideas the world of home design has to offer.

1. Balcony apartment terrace ideas

We often use the terms terrace and balcony interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Terraces are just as often at ground level as they are higher up. On the other hand, balconies are always elevated.

The biggest design challenge for a balcony is the non-negotiable amount of space. No matter how big or small, treat your apartment balcony like an additional room.

Decide on the main purpose of the room and design your balcony around it. Will your balcony serve as a private reading area? Or where to enjoy dinner when the weather permits? Invest in furniture that serves this purpose. If you can build a balcony that serves more than one purpose, even better.

Apartment balconies often lack any significant lighting. If your balcony only requires a single light bulb (or is completely unlit), brighten the outdoor area with string lights or solar-powered lamps. Don’t forget to incorporate functional touches into your setup, like an extension cord for charging electronics or a wall-mounted Bluetooth speaker.

And you don’t have to sacrifice comfort because the room is outside. If you equip your balcony floor with an outdoor carpet or artificial turf, it will look more inviting. If other options are available, you won’t have to deal with a cold concrete floor.

simple balcony apartment terrace
Balcony apartment terrace at night
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Balcony apartment with sunset
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Apartment terrace with fairy lights
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2. Creative garden inspiration

For anyone with a green thumb, an apartment terrace is much more than just an outdoor area. It also represents one of the few ways to grow a garden while living in a tiny apartment or condo.

You can use a large potted plant to fill an unused corner of your patio or frame your patio furniture set. To maximize the potential of your small patio garden, place plants on shelves and in wall-mounted containers. Vining plants can be grown up a wall, trellis or along your balcony railing for more privacy.

If you live in a climate with dramatic seasonal changes (particularly in winter), make sure you can move your balcony plants indoors when necessary.

Before you fill your apartment patio with plants, take the time to learn about the effects of sunlight, rain and wind. Many terraces are in partial or full shade. If one part of your patio receives much more sunlight than the rest, this should be taken into account in your garden design. Place garden containers on your patio walls to protect more delicate plants from strong winds.

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Potted plants on the terrace of the apartment
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Apartment terrace with a view
Apartment terrace with artificial turf

3. Choose the right furniture

If traditional patio furniture isn’t your thing, that’s not a problem. You can find tons of sofas, chairs, tables, and more that are made for outdoor living and still look like they belong in a regular living room.

A table or other piece of furniture that doubles as a table is a must. A folding table and lounge chair are an excellent compromise if you don’t want to fill your small patio space with a lot of furniture. With the right setup, you can easily transform your patio from an outdoor workspace into a private retreat.

If you want comfortable and durable seating, outdoor padding is necessary. Make sure your furniture cushions stay in place with Velcro or tie-down straps – the last thing anyone wants is to lose their outdoor cushions in a gust of wind.

Shelves provide space for displaying decorations while also being functional. Look for a shelf that can be attached to the wall for extra stability in inclement weather. If that’s not an option, ladder-style shelves have a larger footprint and come in all types of materials suitable for outdoor use.

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large couch on the terrace

4. DIY inspiration

If you rent an apartment, your hands are tied when it comes to renovation work. This includes bringing your favorite deck ideas to life. Temporary improvements to your patio’s design can help make the space feel like your own.

Depending on the exterior of your building, hanging decorative items can be a daunting task. Use wood paneling to liven up the space and protect the brick or vinyl underneath. You can drill into this paneling without fear of damaging the outside of your home. A sturdy trellis can serve the same purpose.

If you’re having trouble finding patio cushions that fit your style, don’t worry. Outdoor furniture fabrics aren’t hard to come by (and often no more expensive than regular upholstery fabrics). You can make your own seat covers using your own sewing skills or enlisting the help of a local seamstress.

Hanging string lights over your apartment’s patio is a quick and easy way to make this small space warmer and more inviting. Outdoor string lights provide just enough light for eating and drinking. Play with vertical space by draping lights over your head or hanging them on the wall of your patio. You might even find that your deck railing is the perfect place to attach some string lights.

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Terrace with plants
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Halloween decorated patio
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5. Embrace minimalism

If you’re looking for patio ideas for small apartments, take inspiration from minimalist decor. Minimalist design often goes hand in hand with modern-inspired trends. However, you can also combine minimalism with modern, classic or bohemian decor.

Throw away unnecessary furniture. In most cases, all you need for a functional apartment patio is a few simple seats and a table-like surface. Speaking of patio surfaces, resist the urge to add lots of decorative items—one or two items per surface is enough.

You may even want to invest in some patio storage solutions to maintain the minimalist aesthetic. Look for a patio table with built-in storage. Or replace your regular table with a weatherproof chest.

Keep the color palette of your patio decoration clean and simple. Natural elements such as wood or stone add structure to a small room without creating visual clutter. Additionally, these materials complement the greenery nearby, whether in the form of landscaping or potted plants.

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Ideas for minimalist apartment terraces good.vibes.16
Ideas for minimalist apartment terraces i_k_i_gai
Ideas for a minimalist apartment terrace mylifeunstyled
Ideas for a minimalist apartment terrace sarah.lyons.90

6. Privacy on the terrace

When it comes to making your small patio ideas a reality, privacy is a finite resource. It doesn’t matter whether you rent it or own it. You are constantly reminded that your neighbors are just a few meters (or centimeters) away. Installing a privacy screen is one of the best ways to transform your apartment’s patio back into a comfortable outdoor living space.

If you are concerned about the appearance of a traditional privacy screen, a grille may be the best option. A well-placed trellis and densely planted vine can be just as effective as a regular privacy screen. For those who don’t have a green thumb or live in a cold climate, artificial leaves work just as well.

You can use wooden boards to secure your balcony railing and ensure sufficient privacy from prying eyes. Bamboo umbrellas are another simple solution that can be set up and taken down in no time.

Your privacy screen can serve more than one purpose, so consider your options carefully. If your patio is exposed to direct sunlight most of the day, invest in a privacy screen that will protect you and your loved ones from heat and UV rays.

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small terrace
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Wooden patio furniture
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7. Inspirational design tips

You may be hesitant to implement many decorating ideas on your patio, especially if the space is quite small. However, if you want your apartment patio to feel like an extension of your home, a few personal touches are just the thing.

Potted plants are the obvious choice and for good reason. Green foliage goes with everything and you don’t have to worry about most plants being exposed to the sun or rain. Fill a planter with succulents if your balcony gets a lot of direct light. Tall plants can even provide shade and a bit of privacy.

Functional decor will always prevail in a small space like a balcony. Swap out boring lights for ones that add a touch of personality to your patio design. Choose garden furniture that is as stylish as it is practical.

Of course, you should only put decor on your patio that can withstand the elements. Lightweight items can easily be blown away, so it never hurts to nail, tape, or velcro these items in place. But you should still keep an eye on the weather forecast and bring patio decorations indoors before a storm!

Outside terrace of the apartment
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Outside terrace of the apartment
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Patio plants
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Terrace with hanging plants
Garden and terrace

8. Explore the beauty of wood

You don’t need an elaborate balcony idea to give your apartment terrace a new look. Design your patio with classic elements like natural wood for a simple, elegant aesthetic.

Wood generally goes well with patio furniture. Wicker and rattan furniture are very popular in outdoor design. Combine natural wood furniture for a relaxed, bohemian aesthetic that looks at home on a small balcony.

Wood paneling is a great way to cover unsightly porch facades or an open railing. If you can’t install permanent wood cladding on your home’s patio, look for lightweight vinyl panels that mimic the look of real wood.

It is extremely important to ensure that your wood decor is suitable for outdoor use before placing it on your patio. When exposed to rain or extreme temperatures, wooden furniture that is not treated properly will be permanently damaged.

Rustic patio design
Wooden patio furniture
Bamboo patio furniture
Wicker patio furniture
River view

Frequently asked questions about the apartment terrace

Can you put indoor furniture on a patio?

You may be tempted to use indoor furniture when designing your apartment patio, especially if the space is covered. However, we strongly recommend sticking with outdoor furniture that can withstand the natural elements.

Garden furniture is not just designed to withstand moisture. Most indoor-only furniture will fade in direct sunlight – within a few months the upholstery may be completely faded. If you place indoor furniture on your patio, make sure you can replace it sooner rather than later.

How do you keep bugs off a patio?

Pesky insects like mosquitoes have been known to fly up to 25 feet above the ground in search of food. The higher your home’s patio is, the less likely you are to have to worry about pesky insects ruining your outdoor living space.

Simple solutions like citronella oil diffusers, insect repellent candles, and even a pedestal fan can effectively deter unwanted insects from visiting your home’s patio.

Can you hang things on a balcony railing?

It is entirely possible to safely and securely hang items from a balcony railing. However, it is also extremely important to think about what is under the deck of your home in case something falls.

Many landlords prohibit hanging items on the balcony railings of their property for safety reasons. If you rent, it’s a good idea to check your rental agreement before putting up a hanging basket or other patio decoration.

How do you design a pet-friendly patio?

If you have a dog, cat or other four-legged friend living in your home, the patio is a great place to give them some fresh air. Install privacy screens or panels to close any gaps in your patio railing and prevent your pet from climbing over them. Always accompany your pet on your patio, no matter how “pet-safe” you think the space is.