20 ideas for small balconies and designer examples

Joshua Green

There’s nothing quite like reading a good book and people-watching (or bird-watching!) from a balcony over a morning cup of coffee and a cocktail at sunset. And even if your balcony is tiny, there are countless ways to optimize it so you can enjoy the fresh air as much as possible. In fact, we’ve rounded up tons of little balcony ideas and designer examples to help you make your own as cute and cozy as possible, no matter the size. Each is different in style and use case, but all have one thing in common: Proving that size really isn’t everything.

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Camouflage the railing with green

This balcony in a Marguerite Rodgers-designed home feels warm and inviting thanks to the throws and pillows that spice up the patio furniture. Green wraps around the railing to make it feel more connected to nature without spoiling the view.


Spice up flea market finds

When in doubt, visit a local flea market and repurpose some outdoor bistro chairs and a small coffee table. This pair of antique heart shaped chairs on a small balcony, designed by Tamsin Johnson Interiors, is so cute and looks contemporary despite some signs of the weather. with the new outdoor fabric cushions. When choosing vintage pieces like these, you don’t have to be too careful about protecting them from the elements.


Hang planters and wall sculptures

Hanging planters, string lights and wall sculptures make this small balcony designed by Dee Murphy the ideal place to curl up for a nap.

If you don’t have a place to hang strings of lights, weave them through the gaps in a railing, as shown in this Fantastic Frank balcony. An outdoor runner, ottoman and cushions warm the area.

Now it’s time to let your inner plant parents shine. If you don’t have space for a full-blown roof garden, your balcony is a great alternative.


Honor the style of the building

The designer Anna Spiro Design combines the modern elements of a high-rise building with the location by the sea on this balcony. Black oval-back chairs are just elegant enough, and blue-and-white striped cushions bring a beachy, laid-back but preppy personality.

A room divider can create the illusion of privacy when your outdoor space borders that of a neighbor—and create a dramatic backdrop for a cozy seating area. Joshua Greene also added a console table to dress things up and dress up the fence.

To make your balcony feel like a natural extension of your living space, place a planter right in the doorway. Opt for something more elegant and effective than the pots you use for your outdoor plants.

Even if you have to keep generic pavers in a rental apartment or in an urban setting, you can make it look pretty and whimsical with patio furniture, a rug, and lush landscaping, like Celerie Kemble did on this balcony in New York City.


Opt for low-maintenance systems

Add greenery with low-maintenance plants like cacti. Though this deck is small, interior designer Tamsin Johnson added plenty of personality and color with rustic planters and tall plants that utilize the vertical space.


Pull out a rocking chair

You only have space for a few items? A rocking chair is the ultimate outdoor seat—especially when strategically placed under a ceiling fan in warm climates.


Use a different floor covering

Sliding glass doors seamlessly connect the living area with the outdoors in this beach house designed by Anna Spiro. Though subtle, they are visually separated by different floor materials: patterned floor tiles on the balcony and hardwood in the living room.

This balcony by Keesha Franklin of Halden Interiors is bursting with personality, with bold red painted furniture, printed cushions and contemporary white furniture. Since there’s no overhead structure, she also pulled out an umbrella to provide some shade.

Flower boxes will work wonders when there isn’t room for much else. Balcony flowers like this one on a balcony by Gary McBournie brighten up the entire room without blocking the path to the door.


Install security lighting

Though the design is minimalist to reflect the architectural style of the home, designer Joy Cho added a flat daybed for lounging and installed motion-sensing lights over the entry point (great for security too!).

If you have a spacious backyard in addition to a small balcony, let the balcony add architectural personality but keep it clutter-free and use your yard for things like entertaining and lounging. This balcony on a Madeleine Stuart-designed lot is bare save for a bird feeder.

If you don’t have a lot of space on your balcony, fill it with the coziest items you can find without overcrowding. This patio area by Malcolm Simmons features hanging plants, comfy throws, and layered outdoor rugs that make it seem like the ideal place to sit with a cup of coffee and a new book.

An old wagon becomes a garden display on this dreamy balcony overlooking the ocean designed by Kim Dempster and Erin Martin. You can also turn a wheelbarrow into a bar cart.


Install a fabric awning

Large planters and a statement chair are all you need for a modern balcony oasis like this one from Arent & Pyke. A graphic black-and-white striped awning, terrazzo tile floors, and a sleek white wall light that blends into the exterior wall won’t hurt, either.

A small bar cart and daybed are all it takes to set this Gary McBournie designed small balcony ready for lazy summer afternoons.

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