Designing a balcony: creative ideas for furniture, plants and more

Ulrich Safferling

The balcony is a real all-rounder in an apartment. It can be everything and doesn’t have to be anything. Its users can let their imagination run wild. It’s a place to cook and exercise, eat and spend time. Here are our tips on what is possible on a balcony.

The view from a large balcony with teak furniture, a glass table and reclining chairs, extends over green trees in the foreground as far a lake in the background.
© Getty Images

In this article

What type of balcony would suit you?

The first thing for every balcony owner to ask themselves is: what should their balcony be able to do? Then they need to establish a few other details: how comfortable should it be, how green can it be and how practical must it be? Whatever the answers to these questions, a balcony is clearly the perfect place for leisure activities, because if offers extra free space that is not available in the apartment. If you like barbecues, exercising in the fresh air, or want to give your green thumb free rein, a balcony is full of unforeseen possibilities.

You should choose the basic equipment and style of the balcony accordingly. The most important point is always the floor design. There is a suitable surface for every type of balcony – clickable elements made of wood and plastic, artificial turf, a ship plank design or terracotta tiles. Skillful installation with sufficient ventilation and a slope will prevent waterlogging.

Once you have decided on a concept, be it a balcony garden or a Mediterranean lounge, you can combine different elements according to your taste. But don’t overdo it: if you mix a football table with flower boxes and wind chimes, you may have everything at once, but not necessarily a feel-good balcony.

A woman is sitting on a balcony full of green plants in the foreground.

Relaxation surrounded by nature: this balcony is a green living room.

Urban gardening

Plants belong on every balcony. Even small amounts of greenery are refreshing. Urban gardening is the name given to modern balcony gardening, which brings nature in its smallest form all the way to the living room. Whether you opt for a utility, ornamental or natural garden, there are virtually no limits to your imagination.

The trend is towards natural mini wildflower meadows, which serve to protect against and keep away insects and ensure that bees will have food all year round. The kitchen herb bed for growing popular herbs such as basil, chives and parsley at any time, is a classic example. The herb bed can even be arranged vertically. An old euro pallet can be very useful for this. You can even grow edible flowers this way.

If you like fresh fruit, you can create a fruit balcony with wild strawberries or blueberries in high planters. Even tomatoes and citrus fruits thrive in sheltered, sunny spots. Automatic irrigation systems can take care of the watering and supply all your balcony plants for weeks on end.

You can add a few ornamental shrubs in the form of bamboo and dwarf tree varieties such as cherry or maple in tubs. These will provide shade, protect your balcony from prying eyes and turn it into a paradise. Nest boxes and a bee or insect hotel also make an important contribution to the environment. And anyone who has ever enjoyed watching birds at a bird bath with their children will appreciate it anew every time.

Lounge furniture with pillows and cushions is arranged on a balcony. A few large gray flowerpots are planted with grasses.

Lounge furniture turns the balcony and terrace into a cozy chill-out zone.

The typical style consists of deep, woven plastic lounge furniture, which is practical and easy to clean. If you like it more individual, build a feel-good corner from stacked pallets, which you can decorate with foam mats and cushions. Rattan or wicker chairs have a very Mediterranean look, and large garden lanterns with candles and cocktail tables go well with them.

The highlight can be a bar counter with stools, offering a view of the whole balcony. If the balcony gets very hot in the summer, blinds or an awning will offer shade. This will also do your plants good, regardless of how much sun they can withstand.

Two chairs and a table are positioned on a balcony with plants next to them. 

Less is more: the plants are visually striking on this clearly designed balcony.

A Mediterranean atmosphere: palm and olive trees

The Mediterranean style can be perfected with palm trees or small olive trees in terracotta pots, cloths in muted colors and wooden accessories. If the plants remain outside all year round, they will require weatherproof plant troughs.

If you enjoy playing: the fun balcony

The concept of a balcony entirely devoted to leisure and fun is simpler. With a dartboard, table football and a few powerful spotlights to illuminate the games. And you can even mark out the center circle and penalty spot on matching artificial turf, just for fun.

If the balcony has a white wall, you can install a video projector to create a mini open-air cinema. Alternatively, you can hang the flat screen from the living room on the balcony wall for a short time. A comfortable, weatherproof couch and beanbags like those from the Fat Boy range are ideal for a cool aperitif. Upside down crates can be used as a side table, an electric cool box provides cool drinks and ice.

Battery or solar-powered table lamps are not only practical, but also versatile on the balcony, depending on where the action needs more light. Easy-care plants such as bamboo and palm trees create an all-round harmonious atmosphere.
Are you planning a Super League football evening instead of a movie? Then don’t forget to decorate the walls with club flags and the latest match schedules.

Cooking out in the open

Why not set up a modern outdoor kitchen on the balcony? The main thing you will need is a barbecue that can do more than just grill. The choice of product is limited only by the size of the balcony. There is no need for a sink, however, as the kitchen is only a few steps away from the balcony. A professional gas or electric barbecue with a work surface is the minimum requirement for the private chef de cuisine. And as the guests can watch the frying process live, the cooking party on the balcony will be a sure-fire success.

If you want a really eye-catching feature on your gourmet balcony, opt for a “Green Egg” – a sort of oversize egg that can be used not only for barbecuing, but also for cooking pizza. But be careful: barbecuing on the balcony is allowed, but to a reasonable extent. This means disturbing the neighbors as little as possible. For this reason, a gas or electric barbecue is recommended in the interests of good neighborliness.

A “kitchen island” as a work surface, which can be rustic or even self-built, is a good idea for your barbecue event. All the equipment can easily be hidden away in the drawers. Guests take a seat at a modern wooden table or on comfortable high-back chairs, which are perfect for a long summer evening.

Electric lantern garlands turn the gourmet treat even more into a garden party. But the barbecue expert needs an extra spotlight to be able to operate safely at the fire. Set a green tone with citrus plants and dwarf trees in your outdoor balcony kitchen.

Several people sit in a comfortable circle and dine at a large wooden table on the balcony. 

Do you like inviting other people to your home? Then create the ideal conditions for a cozy barbecue evening among friends with a  table that is large enough.

Conclusion: you can do almost everything on your balcony.

Be it a cooking studio, city garden or playground, your balcony can have many different faces. Have we inspired you with our tips? Then we wish you a great outdoor season on your balcony. But whether you’re hosting a movie screening, a tournament or a barbecue evening, be considerate and always think of your neighbors. Announce your event well in advance – and invite your neighbors to join you for the occasion.

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