Zone Classifieds The Zoomer Edit Inside Out: Easy Ways to Beautify Your Balcony, no Matter Its Size

Photos: balcony (in4mal/Getty Images); macramé wall hanging (Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images)
The Zoomer Edit

Inside Out: Easy Ways to Beautify Your Balcony, no Matter Its Size

BY Viia Beaumanis | July 18th, 2023

A relaxing private retreat that doubles as an outdoor home entertaining space, even the smallest balcony can be a well-designed extension of your home. The trick is bringing ‘indoor’ elements outdoors, but it doesn’t mean an expensive overhaul, just good tips and good taste.


The Floor


Most city balconies come with blah industrial floors and this is the first thing you’ll want to improve. Graphic tile instantly elevates a small space and Ikea sells DIY tiles — snap-in with a draining plastic underpad — in a boho Mediterranean pattern and an elegant black and white checkerboard as well as teak squares and faux wood planks. If you own the space, you can go with a permanent tile. Waterproof polypropylene carpets come in every style these days and the options are almost endless: natural looking ‘sisal’ and flat weaves, distressed berber to palm beach lattice. Combine the two by tossing down some tile and adding a rug or runner.


The Lounge


A truly comfortable and functional small city balcony includes furniture that multitasks and even the most petite space can accommodate something long enough to lie down on, where you can read or take a nap, and that also maximizes seating for guests. An L-shape sofa is ideal for the long, narrow space that is most urban balconies. If you own the flat, consider a built-in that adds extra storage, often in short supply in modern condos. Renting? Lounge seating does not have to be expensive: packing crates, simply stacked, work perfectly as a simple DIY. It’s all about the pillows you use — score all that at Winners or HomeSense. They can also be arranged into a lounge-y daybed that offers even more storage. Or, you can use actual storage boxes as seating and create a sofa or banquette by running them side by side. If your place has floor-to-ceiling windows, try positioning bench seating against the railing. That’s nice for home entertaining as guests face into the rest of the space.


Curtains, Blinds & Panels


Too much sun? City density has you looking into a neighbour’s living room? To decrease UV glare and increase privacy, there are plenty of permanent and removable solutions to suit owners and renters. This is a simple, lovely way to hang curtains; using the railing to keep fabric in place, it acts as a rain shield and can be pushed aside depending on the weather. If your balcony offers a ceiling lip on both sides, twist in an extendable shower rod that sits firmly in place. Of course, curtains in a city environment need to be outdoor fabric or washable. For a zero upkeep, go with a privacy wall. Freestanding in wood, bamboo or super durable woven synthetics or DIY with a sheet of lattice from any hardware store. A few slats of wood go a long way; renters can install something like this as a removable panel. Or, this. Not a great view? Consider floating panels like this or this and budget-friendly Venetian blinds come as wide as 96 inches, that’s an easy-to-hang, drop-down wall you can lower as needed or simply use to create a cozy nook.




Easy-to-install, effective and least expensive, roll-on railing screens come in a range of tones — but a stripe is quite jaunty. Window film lets in the light and comes in a removable, non-glue application; perfect for renters. For a more natural look, clad the railing in split bamboo. This comes in rolls and can be attached with zip ties. Go with a tall height and you can create a cosy room effect. This is also another place for lattice; use it in its standard 4 by 8 foot height or have it cut to size.


Lighting & Accessories


Modern buildings often include a convenient electrical outlet on the balcony. Waterproof string lights are an evergreen outdoor living charmer but proper lamps — floor lamps, table lamps or plug-in swap ceiling pendant — really give an outdoor space a finished look. No outlet? Cordless, dimmable table lamps are amazing and string lights can be battery operated.

Invest in large plants you can move indoors and out. Bamboo palms are inexpensive, low maintenance and offer nice shade and shadowing. Bird of paradise palms mature into a lush spray of green.  If you’re hopeless with plants, or out of town too often to keep anything alive, buy a decent fake. Green makes a huge difference to any outdoor space.

Finally, find a full-length mirror and position it on the balcony on the opposite end from the lounge area. This always looks great. It reflects your chic new space and greatly expands the feel of it — while also doubling your lighting.

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