How to decorate your balcony for summer

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make your concrete outdoor space look like paradise.

There are as many different ways to decorate your balcony as there are ways to decorate your interior. It doesn’t matter how tiny your balcony is — and let’s face it, they seem to be getting smaller and smaller every year — you absolutely can make it look beautiful and inviting. From bright and cheery to chic and relaxing, the tips below will help you achieve that warm, summertime vibe.


Decide how you want to use the space

The most important consideration is how you want to use your space. Is your balcony tiny, with only enough room for a chair and yourself? Or is it big enough to entertain friends or family? Are you only going to use it in the morning for a relaxing cup of coffee, or to curl up for hours with a good book to watch the sunset?

Deciding how you plan to use your space will be the difference between you heading out there for that particular purpose, or avoiding — and wasting — the space entirely. Don’t make do with a folding stool and a cardboard box. You won’t enjoy yourself.

Once you’ve pinpointed how you want to use the space, you can start to furnish it.


Invest in some outdoor furniture

If you only plan on dining out there, get yourself a metal or wicker bistro set for two. You can find inexpensive versions of these everywhere. If you plan on having guests for dinner and you have a larger space, get something larger. Or buy extra folding tables and chairs that you can stow away in a corner when you don’t need them.

If you want to lounge, you can buy large or small outdoor chairs or even sectionals for that purpose. You can even create a bed using wooden pallets stacked up in two or three layers and placing a large futon mattress or cushion over it. This is ideal if you only have enough room to open your door, with a small square space left on one side. But a small bistro table and chair will fit in this type of space, too.

Or, and this is my favourite, get yourself a large rattan egg chair. Or better yet, one that’s suspended from a metal stand like a swing. There’s nothing more relaxing than that gentle rocking motion while the breeze wafts over you.


Pick your favourite style and colour

A colour scheme makes your balcony look chic. It can match the style of your interior, but it doesn’t have to. If you have very neutral decor inside your home, you may want to decorate your balcony in a way that indulges your wild side, or that reminds you of your favourite vacation destination.

The easiest place to start is to pick your favourite colour and then run with it. Do you love the nautical flair of navy blue and pristine white? Do the saturated brights of Mexican beaches help you relax? Or do you prefer the bright lemon yellows of Mediterranean seaside resorts? What about the crisp contrast of black and white? Maybe you prefer a more natural Bohemian style.

Whatever colours you choose, the point is that your balcony should be an oasis that refreshes you. A place where you can escape to after a hectic day.


Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize

This is the fun part. It’s also the most important. Accessories are what add a comfortable and homey feel to the space. To make it easy, try to reflect your decor style in the accessories. If you chose a nautical colour scheme, look for seaside-inspired items like a pail of sand dotted with shells. If Paris was your inspiration, choose a striped umbrella or curtains. Going full Boho? Buy as many oversized pillows and rugs as you can fit in the space, and don’t forget the brass accents.

Most balconies are plain grey concrete, so rugs are a must. Weather-resistant plastic rugs that look like their woven counterparts are ideal, but if your balcony is protected from the worst of a driving rainstorm, you can opt for more natural materials like sisal. You can even buy rugs in fun patterns mimicking fancy tile that will enhance the Mediterranean or Boho vibe you’re trying to create. Another option is interlocking wood tiles to lay down over the concrete to create a deck effect if you want a beachy feel.


Green it up

To fill in the corners, buy plants. If you don’t have a treetop view, or require more privacy, plants are ideal. You can place a potted palm in an awkward corner, or hang planters bursting with a screen of flowers from the balcony railing. It’s possible to purchase slotted wooden wall grids that you can hang pots from if floor space is an issue. This helps relieve the sterile walls that often frame balconies. If you have one of those balconies that stick out from the side of the building and is encased with glass panels, folding screens covered in artificial leaves or flowers easily create a more private retreat.

To really create a natural ambiance, plug in a small fountain and enjoy the sound of trickling water instead of nearby traffic noises.


Get your glow on

Lighting is extremely important. This is the final touch. While you won’t notice this during the day — unless your balcony is very shaded — at night you’ll feel like you’re in a private and luxurious world where
everything glows. Romantic lighting can soften even the most inhospitable-looking balcony.

Lighting can go anywhere you can find space for it. A few strings can be hung along the balcony or suspended overhead. A group of candles in silver holders can be arranged on the table. Tall LED candles can be placed on the floor, alone or in groups, or inside lanterns. And because they’re battery-operated, they’re safe around all your textiles.

Solar-powered lighting is perfect if you don’t have an electrical outlet on your balcony, and the variety of this type of illumination seems to grow every year. It’s also extremely affordable.

It’s very easy to create your own private getaway on any size balcony. With some furniture, accessories, plants and lighting, you can quickly turn a cold concrete bunker into an inviting oasis.

— DG