An apartment balcony decorated with plants and other colorful items.

How to Create an Apartment Balcony Oasis

Updated April 1, 2024 . AmFam Team

Does your apartment balcony need a little TLC? Personalizing your outdoor balcony doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time — and it can be the perfect place to get creative! Here, you can create a private oasis to enjoy your hobbies, take in the fresh air and invite friends over to hang out and relax in the space with you!

Follow these tips to turn your balcony into the perfect outdoor haven.

Helpful Tips as You Glow up Your Balcony

Choose the right materials. The materials you choose for furniture and décor could mean the difference between a one-season purchase and a long-lasting investment. Choose materials based on your climate. Resin wicker, wrought iron, teak and plastic are great choices.

Consider the cushions. No matter what type of seating you pick, make sure you choose cushion material that can weather whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Look for materials that resist water, mildew and fading. To be extra safe, make sure to bring in cushions for big rainstorms!

Plug into power. Review the area for power sources and make sure you have enough outlets for lighting or other outdoor amenities.

Follow the rules. Check with your building regulations, city codes or Homeowners’ Association guidelines before making any permanent changes to your balcony.

Be courteous. Remember to be considerate of your neighbors, both while you set up your new balcony space and while you’re enjoying it.

5 Balcony Decoration Ideas

Whether you’re in a single-family home in the suburbs or a multi-unit urban apartment, you can turn your balcony into your go-to spot! With a little attention and planning, you can turn this often-overlooked space into a favorite outdoor hangout. From furnishings to plants, here are a few things to keep in mind as you revamp your balcony.

First, ensure you have proper outdoor outlets for external lights. Outdoor spaces should have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, a special type of circuit breaker that can automatically shut off power directly at the outlet when it detects an electrical fault, to reduce the risk of fire and injuries. Many outdoor outlets also include a plastic cover to keep the outlet dry in all kinds of weather.

Regardless of which lighting choice(s) you go with, make sure you’re using items that are rated for outdoor use, especially if they will need to survive wind, rain or snow. Using indoor lighting outdoors poses a fire risk, particularly if they will come in contact with water, and may be banned by your landlord or city.

Battery-powered lights. These simple lights are a great option when you don’t have outdoor outlets nearby.

Lamps. One of the easiest light sources to add to a balcony is a simple floor lamp that can throw a lot of light into your small area. Even a single table lamp can give you a cozy glow at night.

Lanterns. Lanterns are an enchanting way to add a comfortable, inviting warmth to your balcony. A simple row of paper lanterns helps light the way along a railing, while an assortment of metal lanterns are a modern take on a classic lighting choice.

String lights. From delicate white fairy lights to the warm glow of vintage-inspired Edison bulbs, string lights are always a classic choice. Wind them along the railing, drape them from the ceiling, or weave throughout your planters for a glowing look.

Sphere lights. For a modern twist on the string lights, choose spherical pendant lights. They’re generally lightweight and easy to hang from any ceiling, and just one or two can cast a warm light over an entire small space.

Sconces. If floor space is tight, add wall sconces to get the lighting you need to enjoy your balcony without sacrificing more area.

4. Make your balcony private

Privacy can feel hard to come by in a large apartment complex or close-knit community. But everyone needs a quiet space to recharge and rest. With just a few easy steps, your balcony can give you the peace and privacy you need.

Curtains. Installing outdoor curtains is an easy addition that creates privacy while dramatically updating your aesthetic. They’re a great way to switch between a private or more public view with ease. Make sure to choose a style specially made for outdoor use that will resist the elements.

Screens and panels. For a quick and sleek privacy solution, consider bamboo panels or inexpensive lattice. It can also help provide shade if it gets too hot.

Outdoor umbrella. Today’s umbrellas come in a variety of sizes and colors to match any décor. Many tilt or swivel to give you a flexible shade solution that doubles as a privacy screen.

Nature. Planting some strategic greenery can close off your balcony to neighbors and passersby. If your balcony restrictions allow for it, a row of large plants or trees, a line of shrubs or a trellis with climbing vines are great ways to use nature to protect your privacy. You can also plant bamboo and nurture it to full growth for a fast-growing, natural privacy screen. If you live in an apartment, remember to utilize railing planters or large outdoor plants to close off your space.

5. Consider space and storage

On a small balcony, space is precious — so it’s important to pick and choose items wisely. Here are some tips that will help you maximize your seating space and storage options.

Seating with storage. Choose seating with storage underneath for double functionality. Have fun with it! Benches with a lid can conceal a lot of storage space, ottoman cubes can hide a few blankets or comfy pillows, and even a sturdy side table with shelves underneath can offer an extra seat in a pinch.

Storage containers. To really maximize space, choose storage containers that are as functional as they are beautiful. This can include bookcases, plastic storage bins, fabric or woven baskets, and even decorative boxes to match your décor.

Keep it decluttered. The key to a peaceful and functional space is to keep it clear of clutter. Sort out the things you don’t want, organize the things you want to keep and make a plan for keeping it clean and clear so you can enjoy every minute in your new outdoor space.

And there you have it! Remember: Your apartment should make you feel inspired from the outside to the inside. With just a few adjustments and additions, you can create the perfect space to enjoy your space alone or with company.

Protect Your New Balcony Oasis

Once you’ve perfected your balcony, make sure you’re doing all you can to protect it by talking to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab). Whether you rent or own, homeowners insurance or renters insurance can help cover your new favorite space. Get the peace of mind you deserve by building your own homeowners or renters policy, all customized to your unique needs.

Looking for more DIY tips? Head to our Renters and Apartment Resource hub, where you’ll find more ways to create a unique space, plus how you can protect it with renters insurance!

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