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How to give your small balcony a fresh look

Going green on your balcony can enhance the whole house. Photo: The Room Illuminated
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There are some simple tricks for turning a small balcony into a stylish and usable space.

When you’re thinking about how to decorate your balcony, view it in the same way as you would a small living room.

Ikea Australia’s interior designer Tabitha Krygsman says the makeover can include a couple of chairs and a table so you can relax or entertain, a durable shelf to hold items such as potted plants and drinking glasses, and a few decorative items and soft furnishings to add colour and personality.

Create zones

If you’ll be using your balcony for multiple activities, look to create dedicated zones – even if space is tight. You’ll find this actually saves you space and reduces balcony clutter as you’ll only buy pieces with a specific purpose in mind.

For example, if you want to grow a herb garden and also create a space for the kids to play, you could choose space-savvy hanging planters that go on the balcony railings and set up a dedicated (and safe) corner of the balcony for the children’s activities – all without taking up too much floor space.

Slim-line storage creates space. Photo: Ikea

Think vertically

You’ll save oodles of space – and reduce clutter – by choosing storage solutions that go upwards rather than outwards, such as wall-mounted or freestanding shelves. Shelving is also a great way to add character and interest to bland balcony walls.

Consider a mix of both open and closed shelving. Closed storage will give you a place to store all those things you don’t want to display, such as gardening tools and sunblock. Meanwhile, open storage allows you to showcase decorative items and will add to the illusion of space.

Think vertically for other items too – consider wall-mounted plants and a vertical drying rack for clothes that can be tucked up against the wall when not in use.

Choose multi-functional pieces

Flexible furniture is a must in a small space. When thinking about which pieces you need, consider your lifestyle first. Do you like to entertain friends on your balcony? Do you like to garden? Do you want a quiet spot to sit and read? The key is not more stuff, but the right stuff.

If you like to entertain, invest in multi-functional pieces that will give you extra seating when you need it, but can be tucked away when not in use, such as stools and benches.

Stackable and folding tables and chairs are another good investment, as they are easy to move around and can also be tucked away with minimal fuss. An extendable table will allow you to set extra place settings when required.

If you need extra storage, seek out furniture with built-in storage, such as a sofa with shelves or storage under the seat, or a storage ottoman.

Think casual dining

Want to be able to dine outside, but don’t have the room for a separate dining setting? Consider making it a casual affair and inviting guests to eat on the sofa instead.

Think of your balcony as an extra dining space. Photo: Baxter Creative

Use a coffee table or a couple of side tables or stools to pop plates and glasses on. Or, consider cocktail party-style entertaining, where you’ll need little more than a wall-mounted bar table with a couple of stools tucked beneath it.

Choose light colours

Whether you’re decorating indoor or outdoor areas, lighter colours will always give the illusion of more space. Whites and creams will also reflect the natural light, making a small balcony feel brighter and more airy.

If you feel the need to add more colour, introduce blocks of brights or patterns through soft furnishings such as cushions and throws. When you’re mixing colours and plains, just be sure to stick to a fairly limited colour palette so the look appears intentional rather than thrown-together – aim for a maximum of three key colours.

Go green

Surround yourself with greenery – real or faux. It will add personality to your balcony and set a wonderfully calm atmosphere.

Finishing touches

Textiles, accessories and decor items: These aren’t just for your indoor living spaces – they work wonderfully outside too, and will make your balcony feel cosy and inviting. Pop an outdoor rug on the floor, and arrange a medley of cushions and throws on the sofa and chairs.

Make your balcony cosy. Photo: AJD Interiors

Colour palette: Colour-wise, there’s no rule that says you have to connect your indoor palette to your outdoor one. A balcony is a great spot to be playful with textures, colours and patterns, so try something new.

Lighting: This is one of the most crucial elements in an outdoor space, but it’s often overlooked. The right lighting can add atmosphere, functionality and style. Plus it will help keep the party going long after the sun goes down. Fairy lights, lanterns, candles and solar-powered lighting will all add a touch of magic at night.