balcony with plants

How To Transform Your Balcony Into A Small Slice Of Paradise

Published 24th June 2021
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Thanks to Britain’s often unpredictable weather, we don’t tend to think about our balconies too much when buying home furnishings and décor. But if you live in a flat, your balcony may be the only private outdoor space you own, so why not make the most of it? With a little planning and effort, you can transform it into a beautiful, tranquil space for enjoying fresh air. 

Despite their small size, balconies can be surprisingly flexible. They give you the opportunity to get truly creative with their look and feel, carving out your own slice of open-air paradise - whatever that means to you! 

A fine idea in theory, but if you lack confidence picking out furniture, creating a new look for your balcony from scratch can be quite intimidating. If that sounds like you, don’t fret: carry on reading this blog, and you’ll soon feel ready to crack on with your design! We’ll be giving you style tips and practical advice in equal measure here, with suggestions and ideas to utterly overhaul your balcony.

Start off with the basics

woman and dog on balcony

Before you can personalise your balcony with decorations, outdoor potted plants and more, it's worth getting some essential furniture first. You’ll get to enjoy your balcony immediately, and you can add extras without worrying about them taking up too much space.

We recommend beginning with a small outdoor coffee table and some outdoor seating. Garden coffee tables and folding chairs are the perfect starting point for your balcony. They can be both quite small, which is good when space is at a premium. If you’re not quite sure how you want your balcony to look or you often like to change your setup on the fly, choose a set that’s light enough to be rearranged around your existing furniture. Stackable chairs can be fantastic, particularly if you want to use your balcony for activities besides sitting like yoga, for example (you’ll want to add a yoga mat to your list of balcony essentials in that case). 

Alternatively, you can try outdoor floor cushions or waterproof bean bags for a cosier alternative to wood, plastic, or metal furniture. These irresistibly plush pews are easily moved, comfortable, and available in all kinds of funky colours and patterns - perfect for creating a casual, easy-going feel on your balcony.

Outdoor floor cushions are great if you want a balcony with a homely feel but aren’t quite as ideal if you want a chic and sophisticated space. If you’d like to keep things classy, you should consider two or three small, metal bistro chairs instead. Often boasting ornate designs, these fabulous pieces of furniture practically ooze opulence. Pair them with a complementary side table, and you’ve got yourself the perfect hangout spot for happy hour whenever you’d like! Bottomless brunch in your pyjamas? You got it! Romantic dinner for two at sunset? Sure! Even the smallest of spaces are bursting with endless opportunities for entertaining guests or enjoying some much-needed alone time - and all it takes is the right furniture to get you started.

Turn your balcony into an overhanging garden

lady laying on floor with plants

If you want to create a truly relaxing space on your balcony, filling it with greenery is a brilliant idea. There’s a lot of evidence that green spaces can contribute to our mental wellbeing and physical health, so unless you live adjacent to a park, there’s no excuse for not splurging on some foliage! The easiest way to do this is by buying some outdoor potted plants. Cacti and succulents that are used to the open air can thrive on a balcony, but if you want something more colourful, try a dwarf variety of Japanese Maple. Cultivated as bonsai trees, these small yet hardy trees are sure to enhance the look of your space.

Looking for something with a little more pizazz? Dedicated balcony planters and hanging baskets are a great way to maximise your space, and can be used to introduce a wider and even more vibrant variety of foliage to your balcony. Hanging baskets are a particularly good option if you want to add pops of colour to your area, as vivid plants like petunias, regal pelargonium, and lobelia flourish in them, while suitable balcony planters (including planter boxes and repurposed window planters) can be used to hold fruit, herbs, and vegetables. Check out our extensive selection of flower seeds to find a wealth of ideas for your next awe-inspiring floral arrangement.

Before buying balcony planters or outdoor potted plants, you’ll need to think about how shady your space is. A balcony that faces south will get much more sunlight over the course of a day than one facing to the north. Direct, intense sunlight can be beneficial to the health of some plants but a hindrance for other varieties, so be sure to take that into account when choosing which ones to add to your haven of herbage. Alternatively, if you’re a serial plant killer (we’ve all been there!), artificial plants and flowers can be just as effective as the real deal - we won’t tell if you don’t!

Make your paradise private

flower pots covering balcony

For a lot of people, privacy is a vital part of creating their own slice of paradise. You might not worry so much if your balcony overlooks your garden, but a busy highstreet may be a different matter entirely. If you find it hard to relax when anyone could be eyeballing you, a balcony privacy screen could be your best friend.

Easily installed along the edges of your balcony, these simple fabric screens block the view of your balcony from people across from or below you. There are dozens of available designs available, from pure black to wood and brick-effect prints, and screens are made in a variety of sizes to suit a wealth of spaces. 

You can achieve a similar effect with some large balcony planters. If you choose the right trough and flora combination, you can create a natural view blocker that looks simply stunning from all angles. Try planting flowering foliage with lots of leaves, like a peace lily. Another stellar privacy-protecting plant is the humble bamboo shoot. Because bamboo grows straight and quickly, you can establish a homegrown privacy screen in very little time!

Perhaps your balustrade is made out of glass and you don’t want to prevent natural light from shining through? If that’s the case, try installing window film instead of a screen. Typically boasting a frosted or one-way design, these nifty additions can give you all the privacy you desire without blocking out the sunlight. Plus, they’re just as easy to remove as they are to install, so you can change up the design as frequently as you’d like - bonus! 

Let there be light!

balcony with lights

If you want to host an open-air dinner party on your balcony or enjoy some late night reading in the peace and quiet of your new den of zen, outdoor lighting is a necessity! As balconies tend not to offer much in terms of floor real estate, your best bet is to opt for outdoor wall lights. Providing a generous amount of light without ever encroaching on your space, they’re ideal for smaller areas where space is limited. Outdoor lanterns and outdoor hanging lights are another great option if you lack room for freestanding alternatives, and can add a charming, rustic aesthetic to your space. 

For those of you who live in rented accommodation and can’t make any permanent changes to your home, you don’t have to miss out on the inviting glow of outdoor illuminations! Fairy lights and rope lights can be just as - if not more - atmospheric as wall lights, and can help to create that elusive ‘rooftop bar in the city’ vibe. To help you save on costly electricity bills, we recommend choosing battery- or solar-powered varieties. Use a brace of zip ties to secure your outdoor fairy lights to the edge of your balcony (or wherever you can drape them from), and you’ll instantly transform your space for the better.

Add some finishing touches

hammock on balcony

Once you’ve picked out your key balcony furniture, lighting, and outdoor foliage for your rectangular utopia, it’s time to personalise it with a few finishing touches to make it truly your own. One easy way to imbue your balcony with personal charm is with an outdoor rug. Because they’re so diverse, rugs can be used for many purposes. 

A vibrant flat rug can look extremely impressive (and incredibly eye-catching) when placed in a neutral or monochromatic space. If you prefer a more industrial look and tend to opt for metal furniture, look for jewel tones like emerald and amethyst. Pair this with corresponding furniture cushions to tie the whole look together, and you’ll instantly add a touch of opulence to your balcony. Alternatively, if beach vibes are your bag, a straw or hemp alternative can help to foster a laid-back, almost tropical atmosphere. Textures and colours are key here, so figure out your desired theme and find the best fitting rug from there. 

Another possibility is adding lattice-work trellises on top of your balcony’s railings. These provide both privacy and shade from the sun, and can look rather snazzy in a Bohemian kind of way if you choose the right one. Be warned though, they’re a pretty permanent feature, so bear this in mind if you live in a rented property. 

If your balcony is wide enough, you can string up a hammock from either end to add to a laid-back, Carribean aesthetic. Make sure your balcony’s posts are strong enough to support your body weight for long periods of time. If they aren’t, you can compromise with a hammock stand or a self-standing hanging chair. Finish off the whole look with a charming wind chime or two, and sink into relaxation in the stress-relieving ambience. 

Because of their positioning, balconies are the perfect place to catch a gorgeous tan. For the ultimate poolside experience (minus the pool… unless, perhaps, it’s the paddling variety!), grab yourself a sun lounger! To maximise your space, we recommend choosing a folding model that can be tucked away when not in use. Once you’ve finished soaking up the rays, take shelter and cool off under a small garden parasol. Practical and pretty, these handy additions can help to create an oasis of shade to unwind in. If you have total control over the design of your balcony, you can add a retractable awning to save space.

Paradise found

bright colours on balcony

Follow those hints and ideas, and you’ll be left with a brilliant balcony in no time! Of course, that’s just one part of your house you’ve styled, but what about the rest? If you’re planning a more thorough interior design revamp, you can find all the info and inspo you need in our blogs and buyer’s guides resources. 

Do you long for a home that’s fit for a social media maven? Read our blog on how to get the Insta look in your home to discover our top tips. Looking to get stuck into an environmentally-friendly DIY project? Take a crack at revivifying a worn-down chest of drawers with our guide on how to upcycle old bedroom furniture. For those of you who are searching for more specific shopping inspiration, our buyer’s guides have got you covered! Yes, from garden furniture to sofa beds, wardrobes to radiator covers, you name it, we’ve got it! For the hottest décor tips, you can rely on OnBuy!

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