A landscape describes the visual characteristics of a natural composition. These properties vary from continent to country to region due to weather and climate conditions and shape their respective character. Analogous to the identity-creating properties of landscapes in the real sense, landscaping can create a characteristic space that reflects the aesthetic values, functionality and sustainability of the individual situation. 

Highrise of Homes ©James Wines

People tend to move to the city due to demographic change in combination with constant globalisation. Due to the lack of land, owning a home with a garden in the city is rare, and an increasing number of people live in apartment flats. 

Especially during the pandemic, access to a balcony, loggia or roof terrace became increasingly desirable. These in-between spaces, which do not necessarily belong to the inside area because of the thermal comfort but still offer a private outdoor space, address the client’s wish for the endemic comfort of the domestic house with a garden within the city.

Regardless of size, material or location; ingenious ideas for improving apartment balconies are increasingly in demand. This article offers a list of 50 ideas and tips for this design-oriented improvement of space.

General Design Elements

1. Depending on the flats’ architecture, the associated outdoor areas are designed as balconies, loggias or orioles. In terms of lighting and weather conditions, the apartment balconies’ location and spatial alignment affect the design because of additions like roofing, a barrier against falling, and furniture design. In general, multifunctional, weather-resistant furniture that can be adapted to the seasons through decoration is desirable. 

2. To ensure the safety of the resident, fall protection is obligatory when planning a balcony. These already existing boundaries of the intermediate space can be converted into design-forming elements. By varying the transparency, through different rhythms in the balusters, the attachment of objects, or using coverings, space can be given an aesthetic finish.

Railing Cladding ©Paulina Jamborowicz

3. Contingent on the balcony or loggia location and design, a possible optimisation is the extension of the area by a wall surface. This either flexible or fenced extension establishes both weather and privacy protection. The verticality can also be used to hang decorative or storage elements, explained in more detail later on.  

Sliding Walls ©Gaile Guevara

4. Pet owners might consider closing the outdoor space as a safety precaution. It might seem constrictive to some but choosing the right material can both protect the pet and preserve the view. In some cities, this could be an advantage, as other animals, such as pigeons, can also be unwelcome guests on balconies. 

5. These generated or already existing vertical elements can become storage space or decorative elements by attaching shelves, boards, hooks and extending the limited square metre area. 

Diverse Use of Extended Wall ©Matchness

6. In many southern European countries, the washing machine is located on the balcony. Instead of using the generated wall as a hanging surface, it is also possible to “fill it in”. As a result,  the usable space of the balcony is visually minimised. Still, this shifting of the room boundary generates a hollow space for storage or to hide bulky elements such as the washing machine or air conditioning.  

Sliding Doors for Storage ©Rafael Ochando Fons

7. When selecting materials for the furniture of the covered and uncovered outdoor space, aspects such as wind resistance, water resistance, rust resistance, and cladding must be taken into account, which significantly influences the furniture pieces’ lifespan. Commonly used materials are treated wood and stainless steel. 

8. Based on nature’s composition, another popular method of enhancing the maximum use of an apartment balcony is zoning the floor using different materials. For example, artificial grass elements refer to being in nature and adding a feel-good component to the place. Pebbles are associated with the proximity of water, and wooden floors are reminiscent of verandas. With this technique, minimal space is divided into several areas and used multi functionally. 

Diverse Choice of Flooring ©Martin Stevens

9. When designing the balcony space, a good composition of furniture is essential. Mood boards serve as inspirations for furniture selection, furniture combinations, details and plants. You can either take inspiration from styles such as minimalist, Scandinavian, bohemian or rustic, to name a few or apply a preferred combination. Attention can be paid to generating a visual and compositional connection between the interior and exterior furnishings to link thematically and spatially.

Bohemian Moodboard ©Miranda Dobbe

10. The implementation of specific colours creates a vibrant atmosphere on the balcony. For example, Wes Anderson, an American film producer, is known for the targeted use of colours to generate a particular emotional state. Based on these colour palettes, accents can be set with fabric, decoration, or furniture pieces to achieve the desired mood. 

Colour Palette ©Wes Anderson

MATERIALS

11. The most popular material for both the finishing and decoration of outdoor space is wood. It gives the room a natural character, a sustainable weatherproof material and a warm glow. 

Wood Cladding ©Homify

12. The weatherproof ceramic tiles are ideal for an easy-to-clean surface and can also be used artistically

Ceramic Tiles ©Vivienne

13. Mirrors are a great material to bring light into the room and extend the space visually.

Garden Mirror ©The Frugality

14. Both because of the sustainable reuse of transport products and the rough character that the pallets give, many households currently apply this trend.

Palette Seating Area ©Dougs.digs

15. Applicable to the same train of thought is reusing wine and fruit boxes for storage and decoration reasons. 

Repurpose ©THE ARCHITECT’S DIARY

16. Brick cladding lends the room an industrial feeling and can be applied to the wall, ceiling and floor.

Brick Wall ©LIGHTS4FUN

17. A natural, bohemian look can be achieved by using straw elements… 

Straw Sun Protection ©El Mueble

18. … or rattan furniture.

Rattan Furniture ©El Mueble

FURNITURE 

Suppose you live in your flat for rent and are not allowed to optimise the balcony space’s quality through conversions or extensions. In that case, this can be made up for with the right choice of furniture.

19. A swing bench offers a place to sit while at the same time still exposing a maximum of space. Its hanging character ensures a delicate appearance of and in the room.

20. Combining the same advantages as a swing bench, the Egg Chair can only carry a single person. The comfortable reading spot offers an eye-catcher for every balcony.

Egg Chair ©kodikkaasti

21. A hammock offers the advantage of comfortable lounging, even for two. The rhythmic swinging gives maximum comfort. It can also be easily dismantled and reassembled if wanted, leading to interior design’s flexibility. 

Hammock ©Julia Borioni

22. Instead of placing the hanging furniture at the edge of the balcony as seating, the Swinging Bench offers the advantage of staging an elegant light surface in the middle of the room. 

23. This exemplary hanging side table follows the same principle as the Swinging Bench. Still, it is reduced to size and a less pretentious position in the room.

Hanging Furniture ©Bridget Pizzo

24. If you have little space on your balcony and want to use it mainly for group gatherings, consider the conventional seating area. It is best to have it made to measure for the apartment balcony to not lose any space.

Generous Seating Area ©Felipe Pereira

25. Suppose the previously mentioned seating area is also equipped with furniture that serves as storage space. In that case, the limited space is maximised in terms of efficiency. 

Furniture used as Storage ©lakaskultura

26. In times of the home office, the possibility of flexibly arranging one’s workplace in other rooms is worth its weight in gold. These railing ad-ons ensure that the office can easily be moved outside in good weather.  

Table To Go ©BalKonzept

27. On the other hand, a somewhat different permanent table could take the form of a bar table. This is particularly suitable for balconies whose balustrades are elevated. 

Balcony Bar ©Etsy

28. Another approach to making the most of your space is to create a flexible furniture landscape that can adapt to a variety of needs and situations through movability.

Table on Wheels ©Deck.Selbermachendeko

29. If moving the furniture is undesirable but free space is still occasionally needed, you can resort to foldable elements. 

Table on Wheels ©Deck.Selbermachendeko

30. A balcony is a perfect place for those who intend to use this space to grow vegetables and fruits because of the light and ventilation possibilities. To ensure that the plants are exposed to the perfect climate, one could set up a tiny greenhouse. 

Foldable Furniture ©Marie Claire France

31. Here is an example of a configuration based on predefined functions after many flexibly changing furniture variations. This built-in cupboard contains a barbecue that also serves as a worktop and even has containers for plants.

City Greenhouse ©Juliana Gewächshauszentrum

Some balconies are either exposed to the sky or south-facing. To ensure a pleasant climate and a shaded space, there are a variety of ways to provide shelter. 

32. With the right design, parasols can shade a specific part of the balcony. They are particularly suitable for somewhat larger balconies with several defined zones to stay in.

Barbecue ©Martín Gurfein

33. Curtains have the same function as sunshade but a different effect and function. They are more likely to be used as flexible privacy screens and give the space a home feeling. 

Umbrella ©PLANETE DECO

34. Fabric installations follow the same line of thought. The possibility of generating an exciting play of light can be achieved by stretching fabric nets…

Fitting Curtain ©Lesh

35. … as well as implementing wood lamellas.

Fabric Roof ©MICASA

DECORATION

Not only the right furniture but above all, a loving eye for detail is what ultimately makes an ample living space.

36. For those who have limited talent with plants but want to have a natural calming effect on their balcony, it is possible to create a green decorative wall with the help of easy-to-hold rampant plants. 

Wood Lamellas ©Ainsley Kimber

37. Once the furniture has been chosen, the finishing touches can be added with cushions,

38. rugs,   

Green Wall ©Très Arquitetura

39. fabric,  

40. and lots of dimming lights. 

41. Limited Space does not necessarily mean sacrifice. Even a water pond is conceivable on a balcony. 

Fabric Play ©Eugeni Bach
Pond ©Container Water Gardens

42. Another attractive way to establish a flexible, changeable decoration is the use of stickers. These can be useful for those who are not allowed to make changes to their balcony.

Floor Stickers ©El Mueble

Creating Diverse Situations

Since a balcony is an intermediate zone that is not assigned a specific function, there are many possibilities for occupying it. The following listing of moods is intended to serve as inspiration. 

43.With pillows and blankets, planar seating on the floor in the way of rugs or seat cushions, and through the use of lights, the balcony can become a restful oasis.

44. A romantic pavilion can be built on the balcony with a little craftsmanship, bringing the trip to the park home to you. 

Park Ambiente ©Ambiance Design Studio

45. Especially in times of the pandemic and the associated home office, it is not unthinkable to move the workplace to untypical locations. It has also been proven that fresh air and vitamin D promote concentration and motivation. 

Home Office ©Anna Fedyukina

46. For those who have a green thumb and who enjoy gardening, the balcony in the city can become the garden’s equivalent in the country. It is crucial to consider which direction the balcony faces since apartment balconies in the north are unsuitable for plants as they do not receive direct sunlight.

Little Garden ©Prosto_Gost

47. The previously mentioned possibility of using vertical elements to shape the space is examined in more detail in this situation. The installation of the decorative elements serves both as sun protection in the case of the balcony’s orientation towards the south and as the framing of the inhabitant’s view.

Framing the View ©Olivia Clarke

48.Particularly small Juliet balconies offer the opportunity to render the space between inside and outside tangible and allow for boundaries to disappear. 

Threshold ©Noemi

49. The use of artificial lighting enables the time limitation caused by the sunset to be discharged. With the help of lamps, fairy lights or candles, the cosy ambience can be enjoyed as long as desired. 

Light Ceiling ©girlandtheword

50. Particularly families with children should feel the need to extend their children’s playroom to the exterior. With little materials and a lot of creativity, playing outside is made possible even during this pandemic. 

Children’s playground ©Martelka

This compilation provides various ideas and tips for designing a balcony. Now, nothing stands in the way of a great holiday on the apartment balcony.

References

Author

Architecture is a people-oriented service in whose life cycle there is potential for improvement. That is why Philomena Vida, both during her studies at the Technical University in Munich and as a practising junior architect, engages in self-research, especially in sustainability, anthropology and sociology in architecture.

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