Balcony ideas - design experts how to make the most of every inch of outdoor space

These chic and stylish balcony ideas will help you make the most of a small city balcony, and turn it into a space you'll enjoy spending time in.

balcony ideas for privacy
(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Make the most of a small city balcony, and make it a space you'll enjoy spending time.

Add a hanging chair (opens in new tab) or a rocking chair to lure you outside to enjoy your balcony's view. Prefer to have an area for al fresco dining? There are plenty of compact, foldable table and chair options that won't take up too much space but can still have you eating outdoors on sunny days.

With a bit more space you could surround your balcony with potted plants to make it feel like more of a garden, and we've seen terraces with vegetables patches and even ponds. For something ultra chic, built-in planter boxes around the edge can look clean and slick, and you could even make them double up as built-in bench seating too.

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is an experienced homes writer and editor. She has written hundreds of articles helping readers make the best home design choices, and spends her days interviewing interiors industry experts to bring the latest ideas to her readers. For this piece she spoke to the world's best designers who have decorated modern balconies in the most inspiring ways, ideal for compiling this article. 

Planting long grasses is a clever way of making a balcony feel more private, while also adding lush, low-maintenance greenery.

As we become more aware of the food we eat, there’s been a large increase in growing herbs in city gardens, especially on balconies. These carefree plants are easy to look after and they come in handy for cooking. 'Try basil, rosemary, wild strawberry or chives to start a herb garden of your own; the herbs are also visually pleasing, perfect for a stylish space', say experts at Gardena (opens in new tab).

Making the most of the vertical space on your balcony is important, transforming brick walls into a place for growing your own has been a big trend so far. You could even plant herbs and vegetables in a vertical wall planters which can be either wall mounted, or hang from a wall or even stand on the floor.

'Even painting one wall can transform a balcony - a deep green wall, an industrial window mirror & some faux plants set in front can create a wild & lush greenhouse inspired space; a blush pink wall, round mirror and some grey bean bags a calmer and more scandi inspired zen look', offers Dani, Director of Buying at Cox & Cox (opens in new tab). A window mirror can give the illusion of extra space, and hanging Festoon lights can create a New York rooftop party vibe.

Browse chic and stylish balcony ideas below...

Read Also: Chic & Stylish Ideas For Small Gardens (opens in new tab)

1. Colour Block

walls are getting punchy thanks to sophisticated renders. Deep colours can bring drama to outdoor spaces like this Sao Paolo patio garden owned by set designer Michell Lott, which is featured in the book Plant Tribe (£25, Abrams). The plum wall works brilliantly with the burgundies and purples of the plants, which include Euphorbia cotinifolia, dark philodendrons, begonias and coleus.

balcony ideas with burgundy walls and plants

(Image credit: Future)

2. Create an urban oasis

An abundance of potted plants make this city balcony feel more like a garden. Get the look: See more of the designer Pol’s work at Find outdoor and balcony plants at

urban balcony ideas

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

3. Chic & simple

Modern furniture and a simple olive tree keeps this London roof terrace looking chic and simple. 

chic city balcony ideas

Get the look: The outdoor furniture is from John Lewis & Partners.

(Image credit: Rei Moon)

4. Create privacy

Low maintenance potted grasses cocoon this roof terrace, giving privacy and a pop of colour. 

balcony ideas for privacy

Get the look: The bench was brought back from Bali. Try Liberty for a similar garden bench.

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

5. Install a mobile meadow

We all dream of fields full of flowers but Isabelle Palmer, @thebalconygardener and author of Modern Container Gardening (£16, Hardie Grant), has a way to get the look in miniature. She cuts circles of wild flower turf (from to fit compost-filled pots. ‘The turf is easy to establish and these containers will attract bees and butterflies,’ says Isabelle.

rewilding for balcony ideas

(Image credit: Jacqui Melville)

6. Add a vegetable patch

Who said you can't have a vegetable patch in a city dwelling? This New York roof garden has raised beds full of vegetables and extraordinary views out across Manhattan.

balcony ideas with vegetable patch

(Image credit: Future)

7. Create a built-in planter box

Built-in planters against the wall make sure there's still plenty of floor space for lounging on this London balcony. A 19th-century advertisement on a now listed wall provides a historic backdrop. The challenge was to create a calm environment that doesn’t impinge on the presence of the wall. Simple, shady plants are kept to a minimum, so there’s space for all to roam. 

balcony ideas for the city

Get the look: The garden was landscaped by Alexander Armstrong Garden Design. For an updated version of this outdoor chair, see the Ixtapa at CB2.

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

8. No space for a pond? Add a pond in a pot

No garden for a pond? A large urn or pot filled with water can create a fun feature, especially with additions like water lilies and pretty pond plants, live fish or a water feature / fountain. 

balcony ideas with a pond in a bowl

Get the look: The Peacock chair is from Dandy Apple Vintage on Etsy.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

9. Create a games space

Got a long, narrow or wrap around balcony? Make the most of it with a fun games space for entertaining. Design firm Angel O’Donnell created this shuffleboard area on a London city balcony, perfect for outdoor entertaining.

balcony ideas with games spaces

(Image credit: Taran Wilkhu)

10. Add a rocking chair

Simple wooden rocking chairs and a handy side table offer the perfect spot for gazing at the view.

balcony ideas with rocking chairs

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

11. Layer up with pots 

A collection of containers is the new way to garden, but there are tricks to make it work. ‘Sticking to either angular or round pots leads to a coherent finish, as does limiting the materials,’ says Tom Harris, author of Pots for All Seasons (£20, Pimpernel Press). Here, Tom combined spiky cordylines and phormiums with soft Japanese maples for a low-maintenance scheme.

balcony ideas with potted plants

(Image credit: Future)

12. Add reflective surfaces in compact balconies

This Danish property features floor-to-ceiling sliding doors onto the balcony, so the view can be enjoyed from inside too.

narrow balcony ideas

(Image credit: Mark Selen)

13. Brave a bold colour

This space leads out to a tree-level balcony, where chairs inspired by husks of corn add vibrance. 

balcony ideas with pop of colour

Get the look: Marc Thorpe’s Husk chairs are part of Moroso’s M’Afrique collection. The kitchen is by Boffi.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.