6 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Balcony — Tips to Make Tiny Spaces Versatile and Beautiful

Have a small balcony and aren't sure how to make the best use of it? Experts suggest several ways to double down on its functionality and design

A small balcony with gloss paint on the walls
(Image credit: frenchCALIFORNIA)

If you're an apartment dweller, even a small balcony can feel like a real luxury. What it lacks in square footage is more than made up for in providing a window to the world and a little outdoor space to enjoy.

In spite of a small balcony's size, there are still ways to utilize it. Whether it's a small seating area, a miniature garden, or even a storage area, plenty of function can be accommodated if you think creatively. Experts share some great balcony ideas and show us how to make the most of them.

1. Build in storage

A small balcony with built-in storage

(Image credit: Lauren Engel. Design: Victoria Holly Interiors)

A well-designed balcony can offer space for accommodating extra storage, which can be especially useful for small apartments. Add smart and stylish storage boxes here, and paint them to add a touch of decor to the outdoors. You can also add built-in seats that hold storage space, like in this clever balcony design.

'For this specific area, the goal was to maximize seating and storage,' says Victoria Holly, principal and founder of Victoria Holly Interiors. 'Wwe created a custom banquette with storage under the seats. So there was deep seating for everyone and lots of storage.'

2. Create privacy

A small balcony with greenery

(Image credit: Amy Bartlam. Design: AAHA Studio)

The one thing about balconies is that they're often less than private. In many instances, any time you use your small outdoor space you'll be overlooked — however you can mitigate this with clever ideas like climbing plants on trellises or buying outdoor privacy screens, as was the solution for this modern timber balcony.

'The wooden trellis is constructed of solid Ipe lumber with a natural oil finish and concealed hardware,' say Harper Halprin & Aaron Leshtz, founders of AAHA Studio. 'The structure is meant to provide respite off of a shared office space and, in concert with thoughtfully planned landscape design, create a warm, inviting, and ultimately private space.'

3. Make the space green

balcony garden with hydrangeas and a blue garden sofa

(Image credit: Kellyann Petry. Design: Urbangreen Gardens NYC)

Filling your balcony with plants is a simple way to make sure you have a connection to nature, even when you're in the middle of a city. Consider the best balcony plants that suit your space's conditions — is it sun or shade? Is it exposed to the elements or sheltered?

4. Make your space feel cozy

A small balcony with furniture and a rug

(Image credit: Jack Gardner. Design: Brad Ramsey Interiors)

Extend your living room into your balcony, and create the most appealing lounging spot with chairs, low-level seaters, and a small console. Choose the best outdoor rugs for this spot and make it cozy, contemplative, and the ideal spot for spending time with family and friends.

'The best rug material for outdoor living is made from polypropylene, which is essentially a color-safe, stain-resistant plastic fiber,' says Brad Ramsey, principal and founder of Brad Ramsey Interiors. 'Polypropylene comes woven in textures that mimic sisal and natural materials as well as cut pile material that is soft and supple like wool rugs. The key to using them correctly is addressing whether a rug will be exposed to rain or not. The more plush materials, though high performance in nature, will retain water due to their thickness and can mildew as a result. So, we always choose a thinner material with no backing for space that gets rained on. That way the water can drain and dry easily.'

5. Keep furniture lightweight

A small balcony with gloss paint and plants

(Image credit: frenchCALIFORIA)

When it comes to filling a small balcony, you want to keep your choices light and easy to move, which means you can switch up how you use the space depending on the occasion. If you've got an exposed balcony, you may also have to store away furniture in winter — another reason to keep things moveable.

It was a big consideration for this wow-factor balcony, decorated with a bronze wall finish. 'We used lightweight furniture that can be easily moved around to accommodate different activities or to create space when needed,' says Guillaume Coutheillas, founder of frenchCALIFORNIA.

6. Landscape it

a balcony with landscaping

(Image credit: Marty Peters. Design: Studio Dwell Architects)

To create an indoor-outdoor feel, consider adding gravel and pebbles on your terrace, with a peppering of a few tall plants. Even a water feature and an outdoor shade would help create a nice, cozy feel.

'Because the lot was so tight, it did not have much space for landscaping on the ground level,' says Mark Peters of Studio Dwell Architects. 'Instead, we decided to spread the landscaping throughout the different floors of the house, including this space.'

3 products for a small balcony

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast).  Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.